CIS Abroad’s Emergency Communication Plan has been developed to protect the safety and well-being of all program participants, protect CIS Abroad and its partners, and to inform all relevant stakeholders – home universities and families of participants.
Even with the complexity of events happening in multiple time zones, we pride ourselves on our ability to communicate accurately and efficiently with all relevant persons. The following outlines our procedure for reporting, responding and evaluating our response to crises that may impact any of our program locations.
Definition of Crisis/Emergency
At CIS Abroad a crisis or emergency is defined as when a participant is in a life-threatening situation or in a situation that may cause serious psychological or emotional trauma. If the issue can wait 24 hours, it is most likely not a crisis. Our Emergency Communication Plan outlines exactly what CIS Abroad will do in the event of:
- Natural Disasters
- Political Emergencies
- Life threatening accidents or illnesses
- Crimes against a student (rape, assault, mugging, etc.)
- Arrest of a student
- Death of a student
- Missing student
Crises in the U.S.
Events in the U.S. that are not physical threats to participants abroad (individual or major crises)
Crisis Response Staff
There are three key CIS Abroad teams that ensure that crises are responded to and that are accurately communicated. These teams include our Onsite Risk Management Team, our US-based Risk Management Team and the US-based Emergency Response Team.
Onsite Staff and Overseas Partners
In every CIS Abroad program location there is a trained CIS Abroad staff member who plays a critical role in the well being of our participants. They are responsible for orienting participants upon arrival and generally looking after them during their time abroad. When a crisis occurs, often our first communication starts with this team of dedicated staff members. Additionally, and also onsite, we have our overseas partners – universities, internship placement partners, and contracted vendors – who also play a significant role in both averting and responding to crises.
CIS Abroad’s Risk Management and Emergency Response Teams
When a crisis occurs, our onsite team communicates directly to our home office. Every single hour of every single day we staff an emergency line with our Emergency Response Team (ERT). These trained and skilled individuals answer the emergency line and are our “first responders” in the US. Most minor incidents are resolved quickly within this team.
Depending upon the severity of the crisis, communication may flow to our Risk Management Team (RMT). This team is comprised of senior staff members who are deeply involved in developing CIS Abroad’s risk management policies and who will be able to make decisions that are best for the health and safety of the participants. In a crisis situation, all members are notified and maintain full communication until the crisis has ended.
The key members of CIS Abroad’s Risk Management Team are:
Joe Debiec, Vice President of Program Operations
Kris Holloway, President of CIS Abroad
Jessica Jones, Vice President of University Relations
Brian Waldron, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management
Jamie Hammond, Assistant Director of Custom Programs
Crisis Reporting and Communication
Central to ensuring the health and safety of our participants is our policy for Crisis Reporting. For any major crisis, CIS Abroad will take into consideration several factors to determine our response including but not limited to: the health and safety of CIS Abroad participant(s) and staff; the proximity of the program to the crisis; the impact of the crisis and the quality of life of our participants; and, intensity of police and/or military presence in the area of the program.
Once a crisis is identified and verified, CIS Abroad staff will reach out to all key stakeholders as soon as possible. Our goal is to communicate with the participants welfare to the emergency contact(s) and home university within 24 hours of an occurrence.
And, finally, after the crisis has been quelled, CIS Abroad makes it a priority to follow up. We begin with each participant to determine his/her physical and mental state and refer out to trained professionals if there are concerns. Additionally, the CIS Abroad Risk Management Team prepares an unbiased report evaluating the performance of all personnel during the crisis. This report will take into account interviews with witnesses to the crisis, students and staff affected, and photographs (if available). This report will be shared with pertinent persons as determined by the Risk Management Team.
Emergency Contact Information
CIS Abroad offers 24-hour emergency assistance to all students and their parents in the US and in-country. Our onsite staff are available, by phone, 24/7 in all of the locations we operate. These on-site individuals have a network of local contacts (police, fire, hospital, embassy) with whom they can be in communication should the need arise. Each CIS Abroad participant is given an Emergency Information Card which they are required to keep with them at all times. This card provides phone numbers for emergency contacts both in country and in the U.S.
US Phone Contact
1 (413) 582-0407
To be used during normal operating hours. 9 am – 5 pm EST, Monday through Friday.
CIS Abroad office, Northampton, MA, USA.
CIS Abroad 24 hour Emergency Contact
NOTE: Please only use the following contact methods in the event of a real emergency or crisis. Like 911, if you are calling with a non-critical matter, it’s possible that someone with a real crisis cannot get through.
To be used after normal operating hours and on weekends.
24-hour Emergency Phone: 1 (413) 210-7091
24-hour Emergency Email: emergency(at)cisabroad.com