Skip to main content

Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

8. Contingency Planning

8. Contingency Planning

Any expedition visiting remote locations on community development projects should make detailed contingency plans before departure. This is intended as general guidance and does not attempt to examine areas of concern in particular countries. Further guidance can be obtained from the International Office.

Generally there are 3 areas of concern:

1. Injury/illness of team members

2. International crisis

3. Civil unrest

 These notes and the following checklists provide general advice, but each crisis, problem or accident will have its own unique features. It will be important to have made proper preparations, including where appropriate, risk assessments, to access all available information at the time and then to take the most appropriate action.

High Commissions/Embassies

All expeditions should notify the British Embassy/ British High Commission of their intentions at an early stage. Past experience has shown our overseas missions to be most supportive. Upon arrival, make personal contact with the Embassy/High Commission as this enables leaders to gain up to the minute knowledge of the current situation regarding security and medical facilities. Personal contacts are particularly valuable as telephone conversations may be guarded in diplomatic terms.

Foreign Embassies in the UK are also helpful though they may have to consult with their home ministries and delays frequently occur. It should also be remembered that Embassies exist to promote national interest and image.

The Media

Great care should be taken when making interviews with the press. In the highly charged political environment that exists in many developing countries, simple comment may be regarded as direct criticism of government.

Medical Emergencies

Initial arrangements

  • All participants should be fully insured - the policy must include an
    emergency repatriation service.
  • Obtain current advice regarding medical risks and local hospitals
    e.g. through MASTA (Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad).
  • Check whether a flying doctor service is available
  • Obtain details of allergies and blood groups of party members.
  • Before departure, all party members should have a dental check up.
  • All members should have appropriate immunizations and where necessary take anti-malarial pills.
  • All members should receive first aid training.
  • Expeditions should carry a SAFA bag (this contains transfusion fluids &
    apparatus, needles, syringes, and basic medication).
  • Carry medication to deal with common illnesses.
  • Prior to departure all members should be advised of medical precautions. This message should be reinforced whilst overseas.
  • Mosquito nets should be used where appropriate.
  • Whilst engaged in hazardous activities or engaged in building works, proper safety precautions should be taken - ensure full training before departure.
  • Purchase of food and food preparation should be supervised.

Injury/illness of team members

The safety of members of the party must be the prime concern of all expedition leaders. In view of the remote location of many projects and the lack of acceptable medical facilities in many developing countries all party members must receive training to help them cope with medical emergencies.

When a patient is suffering from a severe condition, immediate evacuation should be arranged to a major hospital. Always err on the side of caution as travel times may be long and the patient's condition may worsen en route.
Notification of major incidents/illnesses should be made to:

  • The British High Commission/Embassy
  • Your "get you home" service
  • Your UK Home Contact

It's important that the rest of the party is regularly updated about the condition of the patient.

It's important that up to the minute advice is obtained on medical precautions. For example the malaria parasite is becoming increasingly tolerant to medication and therefore expert advice as to local conditions is vital.

Although the extent of HIV and Aids in the Third World is unclear, problems do exist in many countries. Normally the only risk comes from sexual activity but in cases of medical emergency great care must be taken over blood transfusions and the medical equipment used. Ensure that all blood products have been properly Aids-tested and that sterile equipment is used. Groups should take with them sterile medical and dental equipment (including syringes, swabs and transfusion equipment) for use in emergencies.

  • Assess the injury - can you really cope? If in doubt EVACUATE
  • Treat the patient and ensure they are supervised
  • Rest casualty and ensure wounds are regularly inspected and dressed. In view of climatic conditions great care should be taken to avoid infection.
  • Stabilise patient and move to a place of safety.
  • Evacuate patient to a MAJOR HOSPITAL as soon as possible.
  • A leader should accompany the patient at all times.
  • If bleeding is involved, consider transferring matching blood from party members.
  • A chain of communication should be established between the hospital and the expedition.
  • Advise the British Embassy, your repatriation service, and your Home Contact as soon as possible and establish communication links.
  • Ensure the leader with the patient has sufficient funds.

International Crisis

It's important that before embarking on an expedition proper advice is sought on questions such as political and economic stability. Advice can be obtained from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, specialist agencies already working in the country and the International Office.

Most international problems are likely to occur around national borders. If you are planning to work in border areas, check relationships with neighbouring countries. In some countries problems may arise from border incursions or from gangs of poachers/robbers who use the border for protection. If you have to cross national borders during the course of your visit, check the possibility of closure of crossings and the "normal' delays for clearances.

If international problems arise during your visit, immediately contact the UK High Commission/Embassy for advice.

  • Monitor radio broadcasts on BBC World Service and local radio.
  • If troubles are close to you, contact the UK Embassy/High Commission.
  • Consider evacuation. You may well be safer remaining with the local community rather than travelling through troubled areas.
  • If possible, advise your home contact of your whereabouts (in times of crisis, Telephone links are likely to be difficult - particularly from rural areas).
  • Consider basing a leader at the capital to obtain expert advice and to act as a communications link.

Civil disturbances

Civil disorder is possible in all countries and, once again, up-to-date advice should be sought regarding the country you are to visit. Such problems are most likely to occur in the centres of population. In the event of such problems avoid troubled areas.

  • Contact UK Embassy/High Commission for advice.
  • Avoid travelling to or near troubled areas.
  • Monitor radio broadcasts on BBC World Service and local radio.
  • Remain on site unless advised to move by UK Embassy/High Commission.
  • Consider basing a leader in the capital as a communications link.
  • If possible, advise your home contact of your position.
  • Do not engage in any conversations with locals regarding the political situation.