Campus News

February 23, 2011

International SOS helps Emory travelers navigate the unexpected

Recent unrest in Egypt and the region demonstrates how seemingly tranquil countries can quickly erupt, presenting unexpected danger to Emory's faculty, staff and students traveling abroad.

It also reiterates the importance of properly registering with International SOS (ISOS), a service that includes medical assistance and evacuation services for Emory travelers. 

Emory purchases the travel assistance program when its faculty, staff and students are traveling internationally on Emory business or studies. The ISOS services are designed to improve safety for Emory's travelers, including finding local doctors while traveling and evacuation to locations providing medical care if local care is inadequate, as well as responses for political unrest and natural disasters.

Who uses ISOS at Emory?  From evacuations out of earthquake-torn Haiti, to a case of typhoid fever in Monrovia, Liberia, and managing a slip and fall in Dubai, a wide range of travelers use ISOS, most of whom did not expect to use the services.  In all, 42 people from Emory used ISOS in 2010, and so far in 2011, ISOS has helped a student in Spain and aided evacuations from Egypt. 

"Our experience to date with ISOS is exemplary," says Cheryl Ritchie, director of insurance and loss control in Emory's Office of Quality and Risk. "I am aware of many Emory travelers who were safely removed due to medical emergencies, security issues or who found critical legal and medical assistance entirely due to ISOS services. Traveling without ISOS coverage is strictly discouraged and really unnecessary."

ISOS also provides pre-trip planning services, including the need for pre-trip immunizations or malaria pills. Emory travelers may register for security updates to be sent automatically before or during their trip. They can also get information about the customs of the country.

Travelers are encouraged to create a traveler profile with ISOS (log in through  The profile will include medical history, emergency contacts, passport and visa numbers, and more. Travel itineraries are automatically uploaded when booked through Emory's air travel providers.

Travelers who do not use a preferred Emory travel agency must enter their information into the ISOS website. This service enables ISOS to know where Emory's travelers are during business trips so Emory may reach out to them in the event of an emergency.

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