Is your field-based education program time and resource limited? If so, you might find that risk management planning keeps slipping to the bottom of your to do list. I recently surveyed university faculty in ecology, geology, and geography about risk management training and protocols at their institution and 60% thought these systems were inadequate to manage the risks they face when teaching in the field. I also spoke to several directors of not-for-profit field-based education programs and about half of them had concerns with their own risk management systems. Both faculty and program directors cited a lack of time and money for risk management planning. Given time and resource limitations, it might make sense to streamline your risk management system and start by collecting the low-hanging fruit.
The concept of risk management is simple: avoid incidents in the field by managing course activities well. If there happens to be a minor incident in the field, instructors should be prepared to handle it – and have the option to call for outside resources if they can’t. If the worst happens and there is a major incident, such as a threat to life or limb, systems should be in place that allow field staff to readily evacuate the injured person.
In order to accomplish these three simple goals, you need an emergency response system and well-trained field staff. Emergency response planning can be a daunting task, but these five elements provide an important foundation for your program.
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