Safety is the number one priority on all Gapforce expeditions. We follow strict industry guidelines and the stringent codes of practice laid out in BSI 8848 “Specifications for visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventurous activities outside the UK.”
Safety starts at home. We have a comprehensive schedule of pre-trip safety checks, detailed below.
On receipt of a group booking you will receive the necessary documentation needed to start planning for your trip:
All participants are required to complete a medical form specifying any pre-existing conditions. We may also request a doctor’s letter where there are concerns about a student’s fitness to participate. Each medical declaration is assessed by our own doctor, and your Trip Leader (and medic if applicable) will be advised in advance about all relevant conditions.
Information is provided on the kit and equipment required for your destination and activities.
All participants are advised about obtaining visas where required.
Around three months before departure we provide a briefing day or webinar covering first aid, destination specific risks, kit, equipment, visas and program details.
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. They are reviewed by head office before being forwarded to you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As part of our risk assessment we ensure that hospitals with good facilities are never more than 12hrs away.
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.