Emergency preparedness is an integral part of the support process. As we approach the upcoming cycle and welcome hosted students, we ask that all teams take this opportunity to assess, discuss, and submit your team’s plan, list of contacts, and general guidance to responding to various areas of crisis which may come up while students are on program. We ask that Area Team leaders collaborate to complete your Crisis Plan and ensure that your team is appropriately prepared to support host families, volunteers and students this cycle. Resources within your team may have changed greatly from past years, so this is a good time to take stock. See this as not only an inventory assessment and a team emergency preparedness response cheat-sheet, but an extremely valuable resource for all volunteers and staff who work with you and your team. We encourage volunteer leaders to also distribute this form, once completed, to all members of your team or as you see fit. We also ask that volunteer leaders ensure this information is kept up-to-date. This plan will be saved in your MyAFS team page for volunteer and staff access.
Is the Crisis Plan mandatory for teams hosting?
Yes, the Area Team Crisis Plan is mandatory for all teams hosting students. This document ensures greater team preparedness and information sharing with regards to the what, whom, and where volunteers and staff can turn in the event of a crisis(es).
How will the Crisis Plan forms be sent to teams?
In mid-July the Support Team, in collaboration with the Support Advisory Group (SAG), will be emailing volunteer team leaders to prompt them to both designate an Area Team Crisis Plan point person and begin working with their teams to collect all relevant information.
What if our team is more organized/operates on the chapter level rather than as a single area team?
Even though there will be one designated contact per area team responsible for submitting this information, the way in which this information is reflected in the Crisis Plan itself is completely up to you and your volunteer team. Each question provides ample space to reflect chapter-specific information should that be more representative of your team’s composition.
When should the Crisis Plan be submitted to AFS?
Each team is expected to have their completed Crisis Plan completed and submitted prior to their students arriving on program, (i.e. First Arrivals).
What content is reflected in the Crisis Plan?
The Area Team Crisis Plan serves as a sort of inventory assessment of a team’s immediate in-house resources while also addressing areas of potential growth/development and assistance. The intention is to cover and review key components which address emergency preparedness and response.
- Emergency Team Resources
- Duty Officer Info
- Emergency communication plan/contacts
- Medical and Mental Health Resources (in-network providers, PCR Testing Centers, preferred medical clinics/facilities, etc.)
Where will the Area Team Crisis Plan be housed?
Each team can locate their team’s crisis plan in their MyAFS Team Page on the top left corner titled as “Click here to view your Area Team’s Crisis Plan”
Who has access to edit/submit the Crisis Plan?
Each Area Team will have a designated volunteer contact (assigned by the volunteer leaders within the team itself) who will be responsible for collecting and entering all pertinent info for submission. The logic behind having one point of contact to submit the Crisis Plan is to ensure streamlined info collection. Note: the designated volunteer contact will also have access to edit the crisis plan throughout the tenure of the year.
Resources and Links:
Mandatory Evacuation Orders info:
We encourage volunteer leaders to be prepared to report and share this information with your host families and liaisons if your geographic area of the country is subject to natural disasters.
In the event of a relocation due to natural disaster we ask you provide the following information:
- Street address and contact information for new location
- Expected duration of stay
Please note: The Department of State mandates that all participants placed in an area where a mandatory evacuation has been ordered, must be evacuated.
Please note: Any relocation in response to a natural disaster which happens outside of normal business hours should be brought to the Duty Officer’s attention. AFS-USA Duty Officer: 1-800-AFS-INFO x9.
Responding to mass shootings and/or instances of violent civil unrest:
The safety and well-being of our host families, volunteers and participants is of the utmost importance. In the event of a mass shooting event and/or situations where civil unrest turns violent, we ask that host families and volunteer proactively check-in with each other and confirm the safety of everyone in the affected area.
In the event that a participant is directly impacted/in the area of a mass shooting or a violent civil unrest incident, we ask that you immediately contact your local volunteer leaders to confirm and share the participant’s safety status and any updates. Please note: any such incident which happens outside of normal business hours should reported to the AFS USA Duty Officer immediately.
As a note, please review AFS’ position on attending/participating in demonstrations: AFS strongly recommends participants avoid large gatherings such as demonstrations and rallies. There is no effective way to ensure that individuals who choose to participate in any large group gathering will be safe. There is also no way to be assured that every event will be properly policed, causing an added degree of uncertainty where, quite simply, anything can happen.