Emergencies in Off-Campus Programs (Domestic or International) Appendix E

This Appendix provides general guidance for addressing emergency situations that occur away from campus. Specifically, this Appendix is designed to address emergency situations that may arise during off-campus trips and/or programs involving W&L students, faculty and/or staff (whether academic, athletic, cultural, or otherwise). Such emergency situations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A crime committed by or against a student, faculty, or staff member
  • A serious illness, accident, or injury
  • A weather-related emergency or other natural disaster
  • A participant's kidnapping, unlawful detention, or disappearance
  • A participant's death
  • A political crisis or military coup
  • A terrorist attack

This Appendix is addressed to faculty and staff coordinators of W&L domestic and international off-campus programs (from single day field trips or athletic events to extended international trips), who will have primary responsibility for addressing such off-campus emergencies and who will be the critical point of contact for W&L officials on campus. To the extent relevant, faculty/staff coordinators should also refer to the threat specific instructions and guidance provided in Appendix A of this Plan in particular emergency situations.

Advance Planning and Participant Orientation

Traveling and studying away from campus carries certain inherent risks and W&L faculty and staff cannot ensure the safety of students and other participants in off-campus trips. Nevertheless, recognizing these inherent risks, faculty and staff coordinating trips away from campus should take reasonable steps to prepare themselves to deal with any situation that may arise. As part of this preparation, the coordinating faculty and staff should do the following in advance of travel:

  • Take reasonable precautions in advance planning, as appropriate for the location and planned activities of the trip, including direct arrangements or contracts with vetted third parties to handle logistics and transportation, housing, and other program elements.
  • Orient all participants on trip and location details, reasonable precautions, and trip/program expectations, including cultural norms to expect and respect at the destination(s).
  • Have in place appropriate insurance, agreements of responsible travel, and emergency contact information for all participants. For overseas travel, this should include registering, and having participants register, for University-provided global medical and evacuation insurance.
  • Provide the appropriate University officials with a detailed itinerary and contact information so that the University officials know the whereabouts of the participants and may reach the coordinating faculty and staff and/or other participants in the group throughout the trip/program, as necessary.
  • For international travel, register with the appropriate U.S. embassy abroad and with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program of the U.S. State Department.
  • Before departing for the trip/program, or upon arrival at the destination, locate the nearest hospital and police or other law enforcement station and familiarize yourself with how to contact local first responders. Provide this information to all participants.
  • To assist in accounting for all participants in the event of an emergency, have a communication plan to stay in touch with all program participants if one or more of the coordinating faculty and staff have to leave the group to care for one or more participants, or when one or more participants are separated from the group for any reason.

NOTE: Faculty leading Spring Term Abroad trips should follow the specific guidelines for such programs.

General Instructions to Follow in Any Emergency

Each emergency situation will require a unique response specific to the event at hand, which will depend upon an immediate assessment of the situation and the appropriate actions that should be taken under the circumstances. However, there are several key steps that help in assessing any situation, establishing an appropriate course of action, and accounting for all participants.

  • Take any immediate actions necessary to protect the safety and/or welfare of all program participants.
  • Seek appropriate medical care for any affected participants, as appropriate. In seeking medical assistance on international trips, the 24-hour emergency number provided by W&L's global medical insurance company may be helpful if local resources are not sufficient or readily available. In seeking medical assistance, be prepared to provide health care personnel with the affected participant's medical and insurance information.
  • If the situation involves a crime of violence or other potential crimes, contact law enforcement. For international trips, also notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in cases of assault or other crimes of violence.
  • Depending on the nature of an emergency, seek assistance as needed from representatives of affiliated or sponsoring programs or institutions, local law enforcement, or other local resources to help manage the situation.
  • For international trips, depending on the nature of the emergency, assistance should be sought through the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate so that local resources and/or assistance from the U.S. government can be obtained, as necessary and appropriate.
  • Obtain as much information as possible about the exact nature and circumstances of the situation so that you can assess appropriate next steps and/or consult with on site or W&L campus resources about how to move forward.
  • As soon as practicable, notify and stay in touch with W&L officials. Your first point of contact in any emergency should be to call the University Emergency Number (540) 458-8999, which is the 24/7/365 Public Safety dispatch line. Dispatch will then notify appropriate University administrators and the most appropriate W&L official(s) will get back to you.  Follow directions from such officials.
  • Account for all participants using your communication plan.
  • For international trips where medical, political, or natural disaster evacuation may be required or advisable, collaborate with W&L officials and the University's global insurance provider (contact information provided on insurance card), as appropriate.

NOTE: If a crime occurs in housing or classroom space leased by the University, report details on the incident to W&L's Department of Public Safety as soon as practicable following the incident or upon return to campus, so that the incident can be accounted for in Campus Security Act compliance statistical reporting.

Additional Procedures in the Event of Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence, or Sex-Based Stalking

  • Respond promptly, compassionately, and supportively.  Keep the information private and only share with those that need to know.
  • Seek immediate medical and/or counseling care for the affected individual, as appropriate. Offer to make arrangements for such medical and/or counseling care and/or to accompany the individual to and/or from the treating facilities. If you are unable to accompany the individual, arrange for another participant to do so if the individual agrees. W&L counselors are also available to assist students.
  • In cases of sexual assault, encourage the individual to follow basic sexual assault procedures, including not to shower, eat or drink, smoke, douche, change clothes, or anything else that might destroy important physical evidence in the event of a prosecution, and to take precautions to treat sexually transmitted diseases or to prevent pregnancy.
  • Clarify with the individual the degree to which the individual wishes to involve law enforcement and/or other authorities.
  • On international trips, inform the individual that the laws and procedures for dealing with sexual assault, relationship violence, or sex-based stalking in the host country may differ from those in the United States and obtain and communicate to the individual as much information as possible about the specific laws that may apply so that the individual evaluate how to proceed. The U.S. embassy or consulate should be able to clarify the laws of the host country for you.
  • Assist the individual in reporting the incident to local law enforcement if the individual wishes to do so.
  • With the individual's knowledge, contact the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students or the Title IX Coordinator to report the details of the incident as soon as practicable following the incident.

NOTE: Faculty and staff accompanying students on trips away from campus are designated as mandatory reporters, and as such, have a duty to report sexual assaults, relationship violence, and sex-based stalking. Reports can be made to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students or the Title IX Coordinator.

Additional Procedures in the Event of a Death on an International Trip

  • If possible, the faculty program director should make a positive identification of the body, unless the participant's family is available to do so.
  • Immediately contact the University Emergency Number 540-458-8999, the U.S. embassy at the location, and the University's global insurance provider to arrange for repatriation of any remains and communication of relevant information with the decedent's family.
  • Refrain from communicating to others and on social media, until the family and the campus community can be notified through appropriate University personnel on campus.

Faculty Program Director Accident or Medical Emergency

If the faculty or staff coordinating the trip/program becomes ill, has an accident, or otherwise becomes unable or unavailable to carry out his/her duties, another faculty or staff member on the trip, or one of the students or other participants, should immediately contact the University Emergency Number 540-458-8999.

Special Measures if Terrorist or Anti-American Threats or Acts Occur on International Trips

  • Call the U.S. embassy or consulate at your location for advice on any special precautions that are necessary under the circumstances.
  • Provide the consulate with a list of participants' names and addresses and with emergency contact information for you and other faculty/staff.
  • Meet with the participants and ask them to take any recommended precautions.
  • Contact and stay in touch with the Center for International Education at W&L.
  • Stay in touch with the nearest embassy or consulate and monitor local conditions to assess whether further precautions become necessary, up to and including evacuation.

Contacting the University to Confirm Your Group is Unaffected by an Emergency in Your City/Country

If a major incident has occurred within the country/city you are visiting (act of terrorism, natural disaster, etc.), but has not affected your group, please contact the University Emergency Number 540-458-8999 to confirm that all participants are safe so that the University will be able to give family members or others who contact the University current information on the safety of the participants.

Campus Response to Emergencies during Off-Campus Trips

  • The University will convene an appropriate emergency response team on campus to assess and respond to the situation at hand. To the extent practicable and applicable, this emergency response team will reference the applicable processes and procedures set forth in this Plan and/or other University policies and procedures in developing their response to the specific emergency situation.
  • For international trips, the Center for International Education or other University personnel may contact the U.S. Department of State, overseas embassies, medical personnel, travel organizations that specialize in emergency situations, security staff, and/or international aid agencies, as appropriate.
  • The University's emergency response team will develop and assist faculty/staff program personnel and participants in implementing an appropriate course of action based on the information provided and on the assistance needed.

Criteria/Factors to Consider for Suspending/Cancelling a Program

The University will consider various factors, which may include some or all of the following, in deciding whether to suspend or cancel an international (or domestic) program:

  • Partner institution, trip provider, or program director's recommendation of suspension or cancellation;
  • Travel warning and/or specific directive by the U.S. Department of State and/or U.S. Embassy/Consulate;
  • Travel warning and/or specific directive by the World Health Organization and/or the U.S. Center for Disease Control;
  • Outbreak of hostilities between the U.S. and the host country;
  • Terrorist activities and/or a declaration of martial law in the host city or country;
  • Civil unrest or violence that poses a significant threat to participant safety and security;
  • Declaration of war by a third country against the host country;
  • Protracted or indefinite closure of participating academic institutions, trip providers, lodging sites, or other vital program resources;
  • Inability of the program director to carry out the program at the host location or an alternative location; or
  • Prolonged disruption of public utilities and/or other services at the host institution, site, or country.


In some cases (such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster in the immediate vicinity of the program site), it may be necessary to consider evacuating participants from the program site or host country. As a situation unfolds, in order to develop an action plan, the program director and trip provider or host institution representative, together with the University's Office of International Education for international trips, appropriate officials from the Emergency Management Executive Team, and other appropriate University officials will assess the nature and extent of the situation, and evaluate the risks to safety and security of participants, including:

  • The incident's proximity to the program site, its impact on the availability of housing, food, water, and medical supplies, the protection of law and order, the intensity of military presence in the program area, and (if political) the target of the unrest;
  • Consultations with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate personnel for international trips on feasibility of continuing program activities and the ability of participants and faculty/staff to relocate the program to a different site in the host country;
  • Consultations for international trips with the U.S. State Department's Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (+1-202-501-4444 from overseas and 1-888-407-4747 from U.S. and Canada) and with the Overseas Security Advisory Council (202-309-5056; osacemergency@state.gov) and local experts in the country about crisis or security concerns in the area and any measures that the U.S. is taking to evacuate its citizens from the host country;
  • Consultations for international trips with the University's global medical and evacuation insurance provider and broker/risk consultant regarding the necessity of evacuation and options for emergency evacuation routes and action plans.