Our Safety PhilosophyThe safety of all of our students is a constant priority for The School for Field Studies (SFS), and proactive, detailed risk management is an integral part of all of our programs. While no one can guarantee safety anywhere, we have very robust safety systems in place, and SFS is known in the industry for our diligent approach to risk management.
Structured Risk Management Program
We have a structured risk management program that takes care to manage the itineraries and logistics of students’ daily activities in order to protect and enhance the student experience. Our small number of programs enables us to provide detailed attention to each one. We tailor our risk management system to the specific needs of each of our field stations, enabling us to adapt to the dynamic changes of the natural and political world to both prevent and respond to risk quickly and soundly.
SFS focuses on hiring outstanding staff members for all of our programs, and we provide extensive health and safety training as part of our hiring practices. We operate in small, rural areas in which we have operated for decades and have become an integral part of the community. Most of our staff members are in-country nationals. We employ locals who not only provide a rich abroad experience, but understand and manage the local programs from a native perspective. This helps us to better understand politics, natural disaster, community unrest, and other local threats in a timely manner.
Outstanding Staffing Resources
Extensive International ResourcesSFS works with a variety of external resources and continually monitors world news sources, including briefs from the U.S State Department and the Overseas Security Advisory Council.
Comprehensive Student Resources
SFS provides adventurous programs that interact with extraordinary and unfamiliar cultural and natural environments to encourage personal growth and learning. Traveling and studying abroad in these new environments offers transformative rewards through associated challenge and, to some extent, risk. To the best of our abilities, we manage these risks in order to balance the need to achieve program and educational goals while preventing injury and illness.We provide diligent medical screening, clear expectations regarding living and health preparations, and education about environmental and cultural awareness, personal responsibility, and conduct. We give students the right tools to facilitate the opportunity for success.
Student Affairs Manager (SAM)Each field station has a SAM whose job it is to oversee safety on site.They run the on-site orientation and help the students acclimate to their new, day-to-day routine and environment. They educate the students on local hazards, present the rules, and manage compliance. Each SAM is required to hold certification as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), a 72-hour first aid training course. They assist students when they become ill or injured and are there if students just need someone to talk to. They coordinate the accident and incident reporting system and communicate regularly with the Safety Department at SFS headquarters.
First Aid TrainingIn addition to the SAM holding WFR certification, many of our field faculty and staff members have completed a 36-hour training in Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA).
The staff at each field station is equipped with communications equipment including mobile phones, landline phones, Web access, fax, and a satellite phone. SFS headquarters maintains a 24-hour emergency contact system and is in close contact with the staff at each of its field stations.
Contingency PlansContingency plans, including hurricane preparedness plans and emergency evacuation plans, are reviewed and updated regularly.
Risk Management Plans (RMP)Prior to field excursions the SAM files an RMP, specific to that trip, which identifies foreseeable risks and describes mitigating interventions and other trip particulars.
Field Preparation GuideCustomized for each field station, this document is sent out to each student upon acceptance. The Field Preparation Guide serves to orient students to SFS and each field station's local environment, including health and safety recommendations, hazards, and policies. Students are required to sign a Terms and Conditions Statement that states they understand and agree to comply with all SFS policies.
Systematic safety reviews and site visits are conducted regularly at all SFS field stations.