Traveling for business or tourism can be stressful. Worse, if there is an emergency, getting home can be difficult. Natural disasters, war, political instability or medical emergencies outside of the United States can be hard to overcome unless you do some preplanning.
Events that could cause an emergency evacuation seemingly happen at the most inopportune times. You may be out shopping, sightseeing, at the zoo or asleep in the middle of the night. Transportation may all of a sudden be limited or not available. If you are with a group or your family, you may be split up doing different things when the emergency occurs. Communication may be impossible due to weather, deliberate interference by government, war, or simply being out of touch in an isolated location.
Preplanning helps. For example, if you are traveling with a group or with family members, choose an assembly point, and a backup one, immediately upon arrival. Your hotel lobby or your hotel room is probably the best and easiest to remember. Choose an alternate location somewhere close to your hotel or where you will be spending much of your time. The alternate should be something easy to find and a place where citizens of that country likely could direct you. It should also not be too close to your primary location as in some emergencies it may be impossible to access. Select a section of a park, a street corner by a national monument, or a coffee shop across from your country’s Embassy. Make sure all members of your group know the locations.
Emergency evacuation scenarios can never mirror exactly real life. However, if you remember four simple things, you can leverage your chances of emerging from the emergency unscathed:
- Communication: Communication is probably the most critical thing to remember in emergency planning. Figure out how you are going to communicate and do so. Keep the group, your family, police, Embassy, emergency workers, whomever, informed. Today’s world of social media, cell phones, the internet, etc. spreads rumors and false information almost instantaneously in many cases. Remember this and communicate accordingly.
- Early Decision Making: This point can be a life saver. Too many times people hesitate, or think things will get better and put off making a decision to leave the country or go to a hospital until it is too late.
- Don’t Panic: This is probably the most important thing to remember. Panicking kills more people needlessly than the actual event. Remain calm, think and act quickly, and do not allow the situation to overwhelm you.
- Use Common Sense: Hard to teach, nevertheless if you remain calm, assess the situation and act according to your training, planning or just what “feels” right when you’re in a calm state of mind, you will have a better chance of getting yourself and those for whom you are responsible through the emergency evacuation event safely.
By just keeping in mind these four simple tips, your chances of surviving an emergency while traveling are good.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.
As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.
Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.
Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.