In an Emergency


Padnos International Center (PIC)

Emergency Procedures for Incidents Occurring Overseas



24 Hour Contact:

GVSU Campus Police (616) 331-3255


Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm EST

Padnos International Center (616) 331-3898

GVSU Counseling Center (616)331-3266


If you are in an emergency situation while abroad, contact local resources for immediate assistance:

  • Main contact at your host institution or GVSU on-site program director.
  • Nearest medical facility where you can seek emergency care.
  • Police or other local authority that serves as a first responder to emergencies.


Once you have accessed the necessary local resources, contact Padnos International Center (PIC) or GVSU Campus Police. If you call the GVSU Campus Police after hours, they will attempt to contact a staff member in the Padnos International Center who will respond to your call.


What constitutes an emergency?

PIC defines an emergency as an incident requiring immediate assistance (life-threatening medical situation, an incident resulting in serious physical harm, natural disaster requiring immediate evacuation, and the like.) Emergency situations typically require immediate on-site support from local resources. Consider situations when you would call 911, although, be advised that each country may have a different emergency call number, and in some instances, there is no equivalent to a U.S. 911 emergency line. 


We advise all students to ask during their on-site orientation what the local emergency contact numbers are for the area.


Urgent situations or Crises

Urgent or crisis situations may involve minor health concerns, hospitalization with non-life threatening health matters, academic disciplinary actions, non-life threatening emotional or behavioral disorders, property damage, theft, natural disasters not requiring evacuation, arrest, legal concerns, or any other issue where a student is in need of additional support in order to successfully resolve a critical incident he or she is facing.


When to contact PIC

Students should contact PIC if they find themselves in any situation that jeopardizes their physical or mental health.  Examples may include: illness/injury, sexual assault, a natural disaster, hospitalization, emotional or behavioral disorders, academic disciplinary actions, an illegal act resulting in legal actions in the host country, public health risks, damage to property, theft, or any other issue where a student is in need of additional support to successfully resolve a critical incident.


Urgent Medical Situations

If you fall ill or have a serious injury, ask your primary contact at your host university where to seek medical assistance. In many cases, someone at your host university may offer to accompany you to the nearest doctor or hospital. If you are unfamiliar with the local area and need assistance getting directed to a nearby medical facility, you can contact Travel Guard Chartis by calling collect  +01 (817) 826-7008 (from outside the U.S.). Travel Guard Chartis can give you information on the nearest medical facility with an English-speaking physician.


Incidents of sexual assault or rape

In the event you, or someone you care about, experience sexual harassment or rape or sexual assault while abroad, you are strongly encouraged to seek the support of resources in country and/or through GVSU support services. Seek safety first and contact someone you trust at your host university. 


The Women’s Center at GVSU offers a lot of information and resources to students who experience rape or sexual assault. Please review the important information on their website at:


If you have experienced sexual harassment or violence, there are options for you on how you would like to proceed.  Options may include seeking medical treatment, contacting a local or international crisis hotline for victims of sexual assault, filing a police report with local authorities, reporting the incident to the U.S. Embassy to request assistance, reporting the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation who will in turn work with U.S. and host country representatives to investigate the incident, working with a counselor through the GVSU Counseling Center, contacting Padnos International Center to report the incident, and to ask for assistance in seeking out needed resources.


The information available through the Women’s Center can be used as a guide for students who are overseas. There are a number of other important resources relevant to students who are abroad.



Lost or stolen passport

If your passport is lost or stolen, contact the U.S. Embassy in your host country.  The U.S. Embassy will inform you of the procedures for reporting a lost or stolen passport and will give you instructions on securing a replacement.  Click here for a link to the U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world, 


US Embassy Support

Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas can be found at:


Victims of Crimes Overseas


RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) – Toll-free 24/7 hotline for sexual assault counseling and referrals: 1-800-656-HOPE,


U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office – Information about local sexual assault victim assistance:


University of Minnesota’s Aurora Center

The University of Minnesota’s Aurora Center offers a Handbook of International Centers

for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Harassment.  Link here to the publication for information on support centers in different countries:



Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)

Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) is a Federal Advisory Committee with a U.S. Government Charter to promote security cooperation between American business and private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State. The website provides country-specific safety news and information.



Notification Procedures

In the case of an emergency, students are strongly advised to contact appropriate on-site staff immediately. The on-site staff may contact the Padnos International Center, however, we do appreciate hearing directly from the student when possible. Once the Padnos International Center is notified, we will offer whatever support we can to assist the student. Depending on the situation, PIC may contact the emergency contacts listed in the student’s online study abroad account.


In many instances, family members or close friends are the first to be notified of a critical incident.  If you are contacted by a loved one overseas regarding a critical incident, please contact the Padnos International Center at (616) 331-3898.  After normal business hours, please call the number for the GVSU Campus Police.  GVSU Campus Police will contact a member of the PIC staff who will follow-up with you regarding the incident you are reporting.


The following information will be helpful to the PIC when gathering information about a critical incident:


  • Name of person reporting the incident
  • City, and country of where the incident took place
  • Name and location of the study abroad program
  • Student(s) names involved in the incident
  • Date & time of occurrence/current condition 
  • Description of situation/incident
  • Action taken thus far
  • Action requested of Officer (if appropriate)
  • Contact information of the person calling



PIC’s Response to Emergencies

Every critical incident requires a tailored response; however, there are many resources that may be accessed in PIC’s response to a critical incident.


In the event of a political, social, or natural emergency, PIC will be in contact with the on-site staff and/or primary program contacts to maintain an up-to-date assessment of the situation and to more effectively coordinate an appropriate response. Most situations involve a coordinated a response with on-site professionals who can assist the student directly.


When the situation warrants such, the PIC will convene a crisis response team made of representatives from across the University to help respond to a crisis.  Additionally, PIC may utilize services available through an emergency assistance program called Travel Guard Chartis, the US Embassy in the host country, resources available through the U.S. Department of State, and, where appropriate, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.





Travel Guard Chartis - WorldRisk Assistance Card

All students who have been accepted to study abroad through GVSU’s Padnos International Center are covered under an emergency assistance program.  Every student is given a card prior to departure which describes services available and contact numbers for emergency situations. Students must have the policy number to access services. 

  • Travel Guard Chartis can provide the following assistance:
  • Medical assistance and travel medical emergency services
  • Personal and pre-trip services
  • Legal assistance
  • Emergency cash – from personal funding source
  • Lost baggage or passport assistance
  • Insurance coordination
  • Evacuation and repatriation
  • Emergency messaging center
  • Other general assistance


Travel Guard can be reached by calling:

Outside of the US call collect  +01 (817) 826-7008

Within the US or Canada, call (800) 401-2678


US Department of State

The US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, D.C. aids Americans needing emergency assistance. The US State Department’s Crisis Emergency Center telephone number in Washington, D.C. is 202.647.5225.


Updated recordings on State Department travel advisories are also available at this number.


Reminder: ALL GVSU students are required to register their travel dates with the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. (STEP).


US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs 

Emergencies and Crisis Abroad - Website


Overseas Citizens Services of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (OCS) is responsible for the welfare and whereabouts of U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad. 



From within the U.S. 1-888-407-4747

From outside the U.S. 1-202-501-4444


American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS), a branch of OCS, assists individuals in matters involving protective services for Americans abroad, including arrests, deaths occurring abroad, financial or medical emergencies, and welfare and whereabouts inquiries.


US State Department Travel Warnings


Foreign Consulate Offices

This website has a comprehensive list of foreign consulates located in the United States.


Victims of a crime


Arrests abroad

If you are arrested while abroad for any reason, it is important that you know what the U.S. government CAN and CANNOT do for you.


The U.S. Consular Office CAN:

  • Visit you in jail after being notified of your arrest
  • Give you a list of local attorneys (the U.S. government cannot assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of these individuals or recommend a particular attorney)
  • Notify your family and/or friends and relay requests for money or other aid - but only with your authorization
  • Intercede with local authorities to make sure that your rights under local laws are fully observed and that you are treated humanely, according to internationally-accepted standards
  • Protest mistreatment or abuse to the appropriate authorities


The U.S. Consular Office CANNOT:

  • Demand your immediate release or get you out of jail or the country
  • Represent you at trial or give legal counsel
  • Pay legal fees and/or fines with U.S. government funds


Additional information can be found on the US State Department’s website at:



Illegal drugs

Grand Valley State University has a zero-tolerance policy regarding the possession, use, sale, exchange or distribution of any illegal drug or substance for students accepted to study abroad. The determination of whether or not a drug is illegal is governed by U.S. federal drug laws, the laws of the State of Michigan, and host country laws.


Violation of this policy may result in immediate dismissal from the program; academic withdrawal from the university for the semester in progress; and disciplinary action upon return to campus.  


When you are in another country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  You are no longer covered by U.S. laws and constitutional rights. It is the responsibility of the student to know the laws in the U.S. and in the host country.


Please carefully read the information made available the by the US Department of State:


Penalties in many parts of the world are far more severe than they are in the United States. In some countries, penalties can range from life imprisonment under very harsh conditions, solitary confinement, or even the death penalty.  In some places, small amounts of illegal drugs carry the same sentence as larger-scale offenses.  


Not knowing the laws is not an excuse that will keep you out of trouble. You are responsible for knowing the laws of the host country.


Emergency Services

GVSU has purchased comprehensive emergency assistance, liability, emergency evacuation, and repatriation insurance for students studying abroad on approved programs. This assistance plan arranges emergency evacuation, which, with appropriate authorization, will transport an ill and/or injured person to appropriate medical care.

Included is repatriation insurance, which will cover the costs of bringing a person back to the U.S., should death occur. Additional coverage includes travel assistance, medical information, safety tips, as well as other services. This service provides 24-hour 365-day emergency medical, legal, and consular services.

It is important to note that this insurance plan will make sure that a person receives appropriate emergency assistance. It does not cover the costs associated with this emergency assistance. It is critical that every study abroad participant have a primary insurance policy to cover costs associated with any sickness, injury, or other emergency.

Please note that personal travel is not covered under this insurance. Should a claim be made for services provided on non-study abroad related travel, the person utilizing the services will be responsible for any costs incurred in providing the services. Insurance claims made on non-study abroad program related travel may be denied.




Page last modified March 3, 2014