Unparalleled Procedures to Keep Your School Expedition Safe
Safety is the number one priority on all Gapforce expeditions. We follow strict industry guidelines and the stringent codes of practice laid out in BS 8848 “Specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities, outside the United Kingdom”.
Before you go:
Safety starts at home. We have a comprehensive schedule of pre-trip safety checks, detailed below.
- Pre-departure documentation: On receipt of a group booking you will receive the necessary documentation needed to start planning for your trip:
- Medical: All participants are required to complete a medical form specifying any pre-existing conditions, confirmed and signed by their doctor. If there are any concerns about a student’s fitness to participate, our UK Operations Team will request further details. Each medical declaration is assessed by our own doctor, and your Trip Leader will be advised in advance about all relevant conditions.
- Kit & Equipment: Information is provided on the kit and equipment required for your destination and activities.
- Visa Requirements: All participants are offered guidance regarding potential visa requirements, and pointed towards online resources where possible.
- Briefing Session: Before the departure we provide a briefing day or webinar covering first aid, destination specific risks, kit, equipment, visas and program details.
- Risk Assessments: Risk assessments are carried out for each destination and activity and for any other associated risks. They are conducted by our in-country staff who visit the locations prior to the arrival of a group, which are then reviewed by the head office.
- FCO Know Before You Go: We are a member of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office “Know Before You Go” campaign and strictly follow their advice. If they advise against travel to a specific location then we will not go. If a threat alert occurs for a country in which a group is currently travelling we will immediately follow their advice and will evacuate if required. We have a 24 hour Operations Centre and direct communication channels with the Trip Leader at all times.
During your trip:
Throughout your trip, our procedures are in place and ready handle any emergency 24/7.
- Experienced and qualified leaders: You will be accompanied on your trip by one of our highly trained Expedition Leaders. All our Leaders have been through our rigorous four month training programme: two weeks in the Welsh mountains followed by three and a half months in the jungles of Costa Rica. During this time Leaders are taught and assessed on everything they need to know about running exciting and safe expeditions, and about how to respond in the event of an emergency. A detailed and layered evacuation procedure is in place based on priority levels 1, 2 and 3. Your leader is trained to quickly assess and act accordingly in any situation that arises, from mishaps in daily activities through to a change in the political situation of the country. Our Leaders are responsible for carrying out risk assessments before each trip.
- Local staff: We use the services of local staff, including co-ordinators, drivers, guides and project partners. They undergo a thorough screening process to ensure they are safe and reliable. In most cases Gapforce has been working with these staff for many years.
- Safety & orientation briefing: All participants receive a safety briefing from the Trip Leader within 24 hours of arrival. Your Leader will continue to advise on specific health and safety issues relevant to activities and locations throughout your trip. In remote locations groups are often given expert survival training. Staff members also undertake dynamic risk assessments throughout the trip. These are recorded in Gapforce’s ‘Near Miss Reporting’ and used to continually improve our knowledge of the environment and associated risks.
- Communication Procedure: Our Leaders are in constant communication with our UK Operations Centre throughout each trip. In remote destinations such as Belize & Borneo where there is no phone signal, they are equipped with Satellite phones and, in Belize and Borneo specifically, the latest EPIRB technology. This enables rescue workers to pinpoint a group’s location within seconds. Our UK Operations Team provides 24 hour emergency backup to all individuals and groups on a trip.
- Medical procedure: As part of our risk assessment we ensure that hospitals with good facilities are never more than 12 hours away.
- Evacuation Procedures: Evacuation plans for Medium, High and Emergency Priority are developed for all Gapforce trips. Each participant is required to have medical and evacuation insurance prior to departure. Leaders and our experienced office staff hold copies of these documents to access in an emergency situation.
Morocco was fantastic. Thanks so much for all the help and support given by Gapforce in the lead up to the trip, as well as the leadership given by Madoc and the support of Vicky when we were out there. The students had an amazing time and are buzzing about it still.