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Crisis Management System

(Adapted from the Crisis Management Handbook: A Guide for Overseas Staff, Peace Corps Volunteer Safety Council)

Guidelines and Procedures

So far, we have looked at what you can do personally to prepare for and deal with a crisis, whether it is personal or national in scope. Now let's shift our discussion to the system that has been developed to help you should a crisis develop past the preliminary phase of waiting and preparing to act. Specifically, we'll look at the guidelines and procedures for managing an evacuation. To help explain our Evacuation Plan, the Program Director may want to invite a representative from the American Embassy to participate and answer questions. Prior to the discussion, complete the following exercise.


With a partner, develop a list of the questions you have about a country evacuation. The goal is to have as many of your questions answered as possible by the end of our discussion.

  1. _______________________________________
  2. _______________________________________
  3. _______________________________________
  4. _______________________________________
  5. _______________________________________
  6. _______________________________________
  7. _______________________________________
  8. _______________________________________
  9. _______________________________________
  10. _______________________________________

The Crisis Management System - Notes to the Study Abroad Director

Guidelines and Procedures

As the students report on their list of questions, write their responses on the flip chart and check them off as they are answered in the course of the discussion. The questions that the students develop will likely be easily answered during the course of your presentation and the Q & A with your guest speaker. If possible, the presence of a representative from the American Embassy, such as the Regional Security Officer, will give the students the opportunity to hear from another source about the importance of being prepared and following directions. Hearing from an "outside" party also reinforces the message that the plan was not conceived in a vacuum but is part of a larger system of people and organizations that will be working to manage the crisis.

After you have listed the questions on a flip chart, present your Evacuation Plan. If you are not the Program Director, ask him or her to present the Plan to lend credibility and importance to the issue.

In presenting the Plan, be sure to cover basic information. Be specific, but try not to get bogged down in lots of details, as people tend to forget even basic information in a time of crisis. Focus on "the big picture," as well as on helping the students understand why they must follow these procedures.

During the discussion, be sure to include the following:


The stages that comprise your plan, along with criteria for progression to the next stage. For example:

Stage I

Stand fast (remaining at school and preparing to act)

Stage II

Consolidation (proceeding to predetermined assembly points)

Stage III

Evacuation (proceeding to, or waiting for, transport to the evacuation point)


How students will be notified of what stage is in effect and when it changes. Use names of places, persons, and events.


What they must do (and not do) at each stage. Emphasize that individual actions affect the safety of the entire group.


Review concrete actions to be taken by students (e.g., pack a bag, know communication networks).


Review alternative plans for communication, travel, and safe lodging if the current system fails.


Discuss possible outcomes of an evacuation:

  • Consolidation abroad
  • Evacuation to another country or US
  • Return to the country after evacuation
  • Suspension of your studies

Reassure students that, in the event of an actual emergency, specific, written information will be given to them regarding emergency assembly points, collection routes, lines of communication, etc.

NOTE: You may want to show a sample document to the students so they know what to expect.

(Adapted from the Crisis Management Handbook: A Guide for Overseas Staff, Peace Corps Volunteer Safety Council)