An interview on volunteer safety with Lauren Maitland, Director of Programs

This week, we've got a great interview with Lauren Maitland, Director of Programs here at Cross-Cultural Solutions. Wondering how we can be so sure that CCS is the absolute safest option around? Just take a look at what she had to say. Cross-Cultural Solutions' Programs Director

Alexis: Can you tell us about some of the pillars of Cross-Cultural Solutions safety?

Lauren: Sure. Let's start with the most obvious items; the safety measures that our volunteers will notice each and every day.

First, there's the CCS Home-Base staffed by a full-time team of local nationals. We've made sure that every CCS Home-Base is fully outfitted with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as fire extinguishers. We plan out and post all emergency exit routes. Each member of our in-country team has had extensive training in health and safety measures in order to be prepared for anything and everything. Our in-country teams are also trained in first aid and CPR.

Now let's talk about the amazing food our volunteers eat. Our trained cooks are all experts at preparing delicious and authentic cuisine for everyone, including folks with food restrictions and allergies. Additionally, the CCS cooks get intensive training in techniques and ingredients to use in each community in order to eliminate the risk of food-related illness. And we know just where to get the best ingredients. We've done our homework right down to the water, which is either bottled or filtered to meet and exceed World Health Organization recommendations.

I think the last obvious measure is CCS transportation safety. Each morning before heading to your volunteer assignment, our licensed CCS drivers are checking every aspect of the CCS vehicles to make sure they are up to snuff. What do we include in our transportation safety standards? How about fully stocked safety kits, regular and thorough inspections, regular driver trainings, tire pressure regulation, emergency response training; the list goes on and on!

A: So if those are the more obvious items, what are some of the safety standards and practices that a volunteer may not notice because they're going on "behind the scenes"?

L: The big one that comes to mind is our comprehensive Travel Medical and Evacuation insurance plan. We provide it to all of our volunteers. And we're not just talking about the physical side of healthcare—it also includes a benefit that enables you to speak about culture shock with a medical professional, should you need these services. We don't anticipate that our volunteers will need it, but we still think that you'll sleep a lot better knowing it's there.

A: Are there any additional steps that you take to ensure that you're extra plugged in to what's happening "real time" in all of the CCS destination countries and regions?

L: Of course! Since we stay current on world events and in close and constant contact with our in-country teams, we always have a firsthand understanding of current events in each of our destination countries. We have real-time intelligence on everything from current weather patterns and political events to changes in the local academic calendar and new flight schedules, we know it all and we wouldn't have it any other way. Additionally, we collaborate with a number of national and international entities in order to ensure that we have relationships with foreign embassies and safety regulatory agencies. This means that we not only have our own staff in-country, we've got connections in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors as well.

Basically, we've got the most comprehensive safety protocols around, so go ahead and give us a call and let's talk safety. I'm pretty sure you'll be impressed!

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