Schools Should Have Crisis Plans in Place for Field Trips and Study Abroad Programs

Two recent incidents in New Zealand illustrate how quickly emergency situations can arise during student field trips.  While both of these recent incidents involve college students, many situations involving K-12 students have occurred as well.  

In the most recent incident, two American students became lost in a remote wilderness region during a snow storm.  Both survived the nine-day encounter.  Erica Klintworth and Alec Brown were participating in a foreign studies program through the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.  Three university students from Boston were not so fortunate last month when they were killed during a vehicle accident in New Zealand.

In one Georgia case, two elementary students decided to run away from home during a field trip to Zoo Atlanta which is more than 90 miles from where they lived.  The students were finally located safely.   In another case in Alabama, a number of children along with a school bus driver and chaperone were killed in a school bus crash on a Saturday field trip.

As each of these incidents demonstrates, crisis planning concepts for schools and institutions of higher learning should be flexible enough to provide guidance for situations that occur far from school.


About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.