Tuesday, October 19, 2010

People to People's Care Team: The Right Thing to Do

We take our cues from industry standards even when they do not apply to us. It is important for us to use these standards to create the safest and best experience for our student delegates and their families.

A series of events led to the passage of the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act (the Act) of 1996 (49 U.S.C. §§ 1136 & 41113). The intent of this legislation was for the NTSB and airlines to have plans in place to ensure, going forward, “that in the event of a major accident, the carrier is prepared to act in the best interests of survivors families; to treat survivors and families with dignity; and to respect the cultural and religious backgrounds of survivors and families.”

While People to People Ambassador Programs does not fall under the scope of this legislation, we do believe in the principles behind it, and have used it to construct our own plan for the families of our delegates.

No matter how small the event, we believe families should receive timely and accurate information, and it is our intent to make sure we fulfill those needs. Some of these needs include:

  • Timely initial notification and accurate information delivered to the families
  • Continuous updates on progress
  • Logistical support for families’ travel to site
  • Daily contact with families

A new cornerstone of the family assistance program is our CARE Team that we established last year. [UPDATE: We have a total of 28 CARE Team Members - including 11 core members, and me.] Here are three other People to People employees on our CARE Team:

Colleen Schaffer

Ben Tibbetts

Sean Yarnell

Each CARE Team member is trained to provide timely and accurate information and logistical support to families if and when they need it.

People to People Ambassador Programs has specifically trained each CARE Team member to:

  • Understand and meet the needs of delegates and family members
  • Uphold the importance of maintaining the confidential nature of information received and the family’s private information
  • Thoroughly document all commitments made to families
  • Clearly communicate our policies and practices to families
  • Understand and appreciate cultural diversity

Over the past year since we rolled out our CARE Team training and preparation, we have been approached to share this plan and training with other major travel organizations.

As an industry leader, we eagerly shared this information. It’s not just about our organization traveling students safely. Our intent is to help every student be safe no matter what organization they select. We want to remain a leader in this industry in “doing what is right” for our students and families and by being proactive and ready in advance.

"Doing what is right" applies to each delegate. Even with no serious events to deal with during the 2010 travel season, we had members of the CARE Team dispatched around the world.

  • In these few incidents, a student needed to come home for one reason or another.
  • Rather than having a delegation leader return with the student and potentially disrupt the entire delegation, a CARE Team member meets the delegation and personally escorts the student home.
  • The CARE Team members receive training to help these students during a stressful time while they maintain contact with the family to personally bring the student directly home.

At People to People Ambassador Programs, one of our core values is passion. We are passionate about our programs, our mission and our pursuit of excellence. We are passionate about safety. Being the first in the educational travel industry to develop and adopt a family assistance program (our CARE team), is just one way for our team to live that commitment.

Come back and see us next week and hear more great advice for eating and living healthy from April Davis, RD, CD, ACSM CES.

Until then, I’m wishing you safe and happy travels, 

Mike Bowers
Senior Director of Health and Safety

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