Case study: How GVI upholds health and safety

    Posted: August 24, 2018

    It takes courage to make the decision to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere you’ve never been before.

    There is always going to be a measure of anticipation, anxiety, and perhaps even fear when entering uncharted territory, particularly when it comes to volunteering.

    Volunteering offers a level of local, cultural immersion that typical backpacking or luxury holidays just can’t achieve. But, this depth of immersion also involves a little bit more risk, which is why thousands of people around the world decide to participate in paid volunteering programs with GVI.

    We run our own bases with expert teams of our own staff at each and every location: where we partner with local bodies and organizations to contribute to their development objectives.

    Having our own bases allows us to maintain and optimize extremely high standards of health and safety. Having our own staff on the ground means we can respond quickly to any kind of situation that might arise – including medical emergencies, large and small.


    Our expertise in health and safety

    Our responsiveness gives participants the assurance of safety and security they need to be able to fully immerse themselves and give their all.

    We have emergency action plans for all potential scenarios, which all of our staff are trained on. These plans are printed and visible at all of our bases around the world, so that all participants can see them and follow their instructions if ever necessary.

    We also do quarterly checks of these plans, and conduct regular audits of all potential health and safety risks whilst on a GVI project. Lastly, all of our staff are Emergency First Response (EFR) and First Aid trained, ensuring they are equipped to handle any potential medical issue that might arise.


    Allergic reactions to insect bites

    The medical emergency reflected on in this case study was classified as Level 1: Minor Medical Issue, but our staff on the ground follow our emergency actions plans indiscriminately.

    While at our community development and wildlife conservation base in Phang Nga, Thailand, a participant, Eric*, was bitten by insects on his arms and on the side of his body.

    He experienced discomfort for two nights in a row. Eric decided to show these bites to Program Manager Dora Szabados on the third day, because the bites were getting steadily redder and itchier.


    GVI’s response

    Dora called a taxi and organized for GVI Community Coordinator Max Bauer to go with Eric to the nearby Takuapa Hospital. Eric was shortly admitted to see a doctor, who confirmed that the bites are from an unidentified insect and that he was having an allergic reaction to them. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and an anti-itch cream to Eric, who was shortly released to return to base.

    Two days later, Dora checked in on Eric and found him feeling much better. The bites had almost completely disappeared, and were no longer itching. Eric felt fine, and was sure that he did not need a follow-up appointment with the doctor.


    Prioritizing our volunteers’ well-being

    “Our volunteers’ well-being is our priority, and we always make sure their concerns and medical issues are addressed to the fullest,” said Dora.

    “Should a volunteer need immediate medical attention, we have several plans in place. As all our staff are First Aid trained, we always assess the situation first, and advise the volunteer about the next steps.

    “Our closest hospital is a 20-minute drive from base, where we would take a volunteer should they want to seek professional medical care.

    “A staff member always goes with the volunteer, and records everything from getting transport, seeing the doctor and recording any information about prescribed medicine. All of this will then be recorded in an incident report, that will be attached to the volunteer’s file.”

    “We have several specialized doctors in the area. Should a volunteer complain of an ear infection, we take them to an ear clinic, which is about 25-minute ride away from base. Should they complain of toothache, we also take them to a dentist, which is again a 20-minute ride from base.

    “Should the volunteer need more serious medical attention, which may require surgery or a MRI, we take them to Phuket International Hospital. This is about two hours’ drive from base, in Phuket, and is a well-equipped hospital, that works with all the major insurance companies.”

    Thanks to the robust knowledge of our staff and the care they have for participants, Eric could place himself in their care, and rely on someone who knew just what to do and where to go.

    Looking to find out more about GVI’s health and safety protocol? Speak to a member of our team today.