Student Travel Crisis Management Plan

When traveling with students on college sponsored or organized trips, Madison College employees legally and morally take on the responsibility of ensuring that the health and safety of students and participants is given utmost priority. It is important, parents, family, and other loved ones separated from students traveling,  know that adequate policies and procedures are in place to provide the safest possible environments for student participants. Despite every precaution, however, accidents and catastrophic events can happen anywhere. The guidelines in this plan are designed to provide a solid foundation of safety measures and to provide a standardized protocol for communication and action should emergency situations arise.


Prior to departure the faculty or staff responsible for leading student trips are required to submit a copy of the following forms to the Student Life Office plus take a copy of the forms and Crisis Management Plan on the trip:

  • Code of Conduct
  • Emergency Information
  • Emergency Resource Card
  • Itinerary
  • Participant List
  • Waiver of Liability   

For critical emergency situations, contact the local police, medical, or other assistance needed to protect the health and safety of yourself and program participants first. Once all participants are safe, to the extent possible, then contact Madison College staff as indicated.

Crisis Management Decision Making

  1. Convene all Madison College personnel at the location of the incident. Do not wait until a crisis has escalated and do not try to handle the situation yourself.
  2. Gather information as accurately and timely as possible. Not every detail will be available, but gather enough to determine the magnitude of the issue. Define the boundaries of confidentiality.
  3. Decide whether or not to escalate the issue. Ideally there is a pre-determined threshold for launching into crisis-mode, but if not, there are some triggers that universally require escalating into crisis response. Generally, if the threat has, or could lead to significant harm to the student(s), club or college itself, it is worth escalating.
  4. Engage external partners. If the incident warrants external partners such as the police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Safety Transportation Board or other regulatory agency, reach out to identify a point of contact and open the lines of communication. These Madison College representatives should be contacted: Director of Student Life, Clubs Coordinator, and Public Safety.
  5. Follow appropriate/additional steps based on situation.
  6. Record and learn. Once the situation resumes to normal, be sure to gather the team involved for an after-action discussion. Every incident is an opportunity to practice the response process and identify areas that need improvement.

These steps were adapted from Decision Making in Times of Crisis, Strawser, 2017, and 7 Steps of Crisis Management, 2014.


  • Critical Emergency Situation

    For critical emergency situations, follow these important steps:

    1. Contact the local police, medical, or other assistance needed to protect the health and safety of yourself and program participants first. Once all participants are safe, to the extent possible, then contact Madison College Crisis Staff.
    2. Without centralized communication conflicting or sensationalistic reports to family or media could lead to unnecessarily alarming family or others or open the college to litigation or embarrassment. Students/participants should be cautioned not to speak with the media and to avoid causing unneeded alarm or misrepresenting the situation in any communication home regarding the incident.
    3. Chronological logs should be kept of any crisis situation, documenting what happened, what steps were taken, when  they were taken, who was contacted, and what follow up actions were necessary. Log records should document both the time that events or actions occurred as well as when log notations were entered.
    4. Upon return to Campus, complete a full report of the incident using the BIT Referral form. Send a copy of the report to the Student Life Director.
  • Death of a Student or Participant
    1. The trip leader must verify the identity of the student/participant. Gather as much information as possible about the circumstances surrounding the student/participant’s death as possible.
    2. Follow steps 1 – 4 in Crisis Management Decision Making.
  • Emotional Health Problems
    1. Follow steps 1 – 4 in Crisis Management Decision Making.
    2. Follow instructions from Madison College Crisis Staff, Counseling Service.
    3. Assess the extent of the problem. Who has been affected? What support network exists for the student/participant in question (family, friends, roommates, etc.)? Will the student agree to seek help? What professional counsel is immediately available? Has the student disclosed any information on their Emergency Contact Form regarding preexisting medical or mental health problems that can aid in assessing the situation?
  • Lost or Missing Persons
    1. Gather all of the important information regarding when and where the student/participant was last seen, information regarding their behavior patterns and recent emotional state. Based on this information it may be necessary to assess whether the student/participant is likely to be ignoring curfews or timelines or whether there is a history of substance abuse, depression, or dangerous risk-taking, or unusual behavior that necessitates more immediate action.
    2. Follow steps 1 – 4 in Crisis Management Decision Making.
    3. Contact clinic and hospital admissions, city records, and/or local police officials to see if the missing individual has been admitted or incarcerated.
    4. Maintain contact with roommates, friends, hotels, and other relevant individuals seeking and relying on pertinent information that might help in locating the individual. Ask them to contact you immediately if the student/participant returns.
    5. If the student has not been located in 24 to 48 hours after the first report of disappearance, file a report with the local police.
    6. Once the person has been located, inform appropriate persons at Madison College Crisis Contact. If necessary, activate other protocol for serious accident, injury or death.
  • Serious Injuries
    1. Assist the student/participant in finding appropriate medical care in a hospital or clinic that can provide the best possible care available. Assess the extent or severity of the accident/illness/injury in communication with the physician treating the student/participant.
    2. Follow steps 1 – 4 in Crisis Management Decision Making.
    3. Assess the need for support services, counseling, and information updates to other program participants who may be emotionally affected and implement as needed.
  • Sexual Aggression, Abuse, and Harassment

    In the event of an incident of sexual aggression, abuse or harassment, the trip leader should never ignore or dismiss any complaints. All complaints should be quickly investigated and the following actions taken:

    1. If there is obvious physical injury or the student/participant reports a rape, make sure they are taken to a hospital or clinic that can provide safe and adequate care.
    2. Follow steps 1 – 4 in Crisis Management Decision Making.
    3. Talk to the person reporting the allegation and determine the identity and location of the victim. If necessary, separate the accused individual from the victim. Clarify with the student/participant to what degree he/she wishes to involve police.
    4. Discern any obvious physical injury and/or emotional distress.
    5. Provide regular briefings to the College Crisis Staff. 
    6. If the accused individual is a student or participant of the program, proceed with protocol for behavioral code of conduct violations or, if arrested, protocol for student/participant arrest.
  • Student Arrest
    1. Quickly assess the situation by obtaining as many details as possible. Determine who, what, when, where, how, and why.
    2. Follow steps 1 – 4 in Crisis Management Decision Making.
    3. The trip leader should visit the student/participant wherever they are being held, and to the extent possible, reassure the student, and to the best of their ability explain the legal procedures.
  • Student Code of Conduct Violations
    1. If a Student Code of Conduct violation is reported or observed, meet with the student to inform him or her of the alleged violations and hear the student’s response to the allegations. This constitutes due process.
    • It is advisable, but not required, to have another responsible staff member present and to allow the student to have one person of their choosing who was not directly involved in the incident/situation present for support.
    • If more than one student is involved in the incident/situation, an interview should take place with each student separately.
    1. Interview any other parties who may be witnesses to the code violation(s) and make sure actions are documented thoroughly. This would include those named by the student in question. Use the Behavior Intervention form for this purpose.
    2. Make a determination as to whether or not the student is responsible for the code violation. The standard for this is preponderance of information.
    3. If the student is found not to be responsible, the matter is concluded. The reporting person(s) should be informed.
    4. If the student is found to be responsible, a sanction or consequence should be determined, communicated to the student and reporting parties, and implemented. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, warnings may be adequate. If the violation is repeated, more serious action may need to be taken. If ejectment from the program is necessary, every effort should be made to send the student home, where possible, a Madison College staff/faculty trip leader should escort the student to the airport or other transportation hub. If the student does not have funds to pay for the return ticket, the trip leader should purchase one (using a Madison College Purchasing Card), and notify the student that they will be billed for that cost. If the situation arises where a student refuses to return home, do not attempt to force them to do so. In such situations, the student should be notified that they have been separated from the program, and that their decision to remain is their own. In such cases the college will notify the participant’s emergency contacts with regard to the situation.
    5. Serious code violations: follow steps 1 – 4 in Crisis Management Decision Making.