Emergencies Abroad

Serving as a 24/7 Emergency Contact: A Resource for Faculty and Staff

University policies requires all travelers1 participating in University-purpose2 international travel or education abroad opportunies to provide a U.S.-based 24/7 emergency contact in the office, unit or college supporting the travelert's activity abroad. Travelers must provide this information when registering their travel.

As a 24/7 emergency contact for a University traveler abroad, you are agreeing to:

  1. be available to the traveler 24/7 during their education abroad opportunity, and
  2. collaborate with and report all traveler health and safety incidents to the International Health, Safety and Compliance (IHSC) team in the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance (GPS Alliance).

Be Prepared

Note: Print this page for a handy reference and checklist.

This pre-departure checklist will help you ensure you have the tools necessary to serve as the 24-7 contact for the traveler(s) while abroad. Before the traveler departs:

Traveler Communication

☐ provide the traveler with your office phone, personal phone (cell and home), and email;

☐ receive the traveler’s contact information (cell phone, email, hotel/host family phone number, on-site contact phone number and email) and itinerary. If the traveler will not have a cell phone that works abroad, a more detailed itinerary will be helpful should you need to reach the traveler. If the cell phone is to be obtained in country, advise the travler to email you this number after they've arrived;

☐ let the traveler know that you are available to support them while abroad and encourage them to use email/office phone in non-emergency situations and emergencies during normal business hours and your cell phone/home phone in emergency situations that arise outside of normal business hours;

☐ consider arranging an in-person meeting or phone call with the traveler to discuss when, how, and in what instances both parties would contact each other; and

☐ encourage travelers to contact you for help, consultation, and to report incidents.

Your Preparations

☐ verify that both your home/cell phone and office phone can make and receive international phone calls;

☐ review the incident response details below;

☐ contact the Director of International Health, Safety and Compliance (IHSC), Kevin Dostal Dauer, at dauer001@umn.edu or 612-625-5107 to ask any questions you have prior to the traveler’s departure and to report any traveler incidents while abroad.

  • If you are serving as an emergency contact to a student, you will receive 24-7 contact information for the IHSC team in a separate email communication. This information is not to be provided directly to students.

☐ if you are unable to be available to a traveler for any reason during their time abroad, identify a faculty or staff member to serve as a back-up. Email the traveler and Kevin Dostal Dauer (director of International Health, Safety, and Compliance) with the back-up's office phone, personal phone (cell and home), and email.

Incident Response Instructions

☐ Emergency contacts do not need to answer the phone every time in rings. Though you must be available 24-7, you can let phone go to voicemail and then call the traveler back.

☐ Emergency contacts are the first point of support for a traveler but are not expected to be experts in international emergency or crisis management.

☐ When you receive a call from a traveler in need of assistance:

  • Reassure the traveler they have made the correct decision in calling you.
  • Stay calm.
  • Listen to the traveler and ask questions to try to collect as much information as possible that has not already been provided to you:
    • Name of program and names(s) of those involved
    • Phone numbers & emails where appropriate persons can be reached for future correspondence
    • Description of the situation, to include, as relevant:
      • What happened?
      • Is the traveler in immediate danger? Do they feel safe now?
      • Where did it happen?
      • When did it happen?
      • Who was involved?
      • Who are the witnesses?
      • Who (onsite staff, home, officials, etc.) has been contacted?
      • What action, if any, has been suggested by authorities at the site?
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question or what to recommend to the traveler, don’t worry. Simply let the traveler know that you will be following up with them shortly. Then, call the 24/7 IHSC team contact who will advise on next steps.
  • If you have a traveler incident to report that is not an emergency, please send an email to Kevin Dostal Dauer at dauer001@umn.edu and include as much detail as possible.

Incident Reporting and Data

You are required to report all traveler incidents abroad to allow the IHSC team to provide assistance, guidance, and consultation to you on assisting the traveler abroad. In the event of an emergency, the IHSC team is available 24/7 to provide guidance and consultation to you in assisting the traveler. The IHSC team is available to support you and your unit in assisting the traveler in an emergency. However, you will remain the traveler’s direct contact at the University.

The University of Minnesota is required by state and federal regulations to report certain traveler incidents abroad. This requirement extends to all faculty and staff of the University. Reporting is handled centrally by the IHSC team for the entire system. Travelers will not be identified in these reports. For more information on the relevant regulations and the University's general health and safety information, please visit GO Safe. Traveler incident information is strictly protected as private information under FERPA.

In addition to institutional reporting requirements, the IHSC also uses aggregate incident data to track trends to assist in working with the University’s international insurance provider, inform decision-making on education abroad opportunities, and provide health and safety guidance to students, faculty, and staff.


1The term “travelers” includes all students (undergraduate, graduate, professional degree students, residents, and fellows) as well as all faculty or staff members affiliated with the University in any way.
2The term “University purposes” refers to travel that is affiliated with the University in any way.  This includes, but is not limited to, travel funded by the University or where credit is awarded or degree requirements are fulfilled (e.g. work, internships, field study, research, etc. including non-credit degree requirements), volunteering, conference or workshop attendance, athletic events, and Campus Life Program activities abroad. Travel with a Registered Student Organization (RSO), that is not otherwise funded or supported by the University, and personal travel such as a vacation is NOT for University purposes.