The Vanderbilt Incident Response for Travel (VIRT) team is a new program within the Vanderbilt Global Education Office with the goal of providing safety related assistance to students and faculty who travel away from campus for university related work. The program formally launched this month after a year of planning and coordination across campus resources and has already been used.
“Vanderbilt’s global presence is growing and with that, a need for consistent and expert response to incidents that occur away from our campus,” Andrea Bordeau, Vanderbilt’s Global Safety and Security Manager, said. “We want our community traveling on Vanderbilt business to be fully supported in their endeavors near and far.”
VIRT works with on campus offices such as Project SAFE, the student health center and the global education office, among many others, to provide members of the Vanderbilt community with the guidance they need while away from campus. They are prepared to handle many different types of incidents, such as natural disaster or civil unrest, or personal matters like medical needs and mental health support.
“VIRT calls are treated very holistically based on the nature of the incident, the specific location of the incident, the traveler’s needs, and many other factors. We also have an email set up for non-emergency health, safety, and security questions that may come up,” Bordeau said. “Many universities across the country have established these types of initiatives to support their international travel (and domestic travel away from campus). One main takeaway is that Vanderbilt is prepared to support its student, faculty, and staff community on their VU endeavors even when those occur away from campus.”
Bordeau is a mandatory reporter when it comes to instances of sexual assault, but she can connect those abroad with confidential resources as they need them.
“I am a mandatory reporter but VIRT is able to connect students with important confidential resources here on campus, like Project Safe, 24/7 even from outside of the country,” Bordeau said. “We are also able to refer students to confidential resources on-site wherever they may be or online resources. There are many options depending on what is needed in the specific case.”
To access VIRT assistance, those in need can call +1 (615) 322-2745 at any point in the year, 24/7 or email VIRT@vanderbilt.edu for less time sensitive needs. When a call is placed, it first goes to VU Public Safety which then transfers the call to VIRT once it is established that the caller is traveling away from the school on Vanderbilt related business. Bordeau is the primary first responder for VIRT, meaning she takes all calls and connects callers with the resources they need.
“My role is 24/7/365 with a trained team behind me supporting as back-ups when I’m unavailable,” Bordeau said. “It is a critical and significant responsibility to always be on call and there are ways to make that a seamless part of one’s everyday life. There are many roles out there that carry that type of responsibility and I’m happy to serve the Vanderbilt community in this way.”
Bordeau came to Vanderbilt in January to fill the newly created Global Safety and Security Manager position. Previously, she served as the assistant director of international safety and security at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“I’ve been in this field for quite some time and while it is always challenging it is also incredibly rewarding,” Bordeau said. “While I work to support all campus travel, supporting students (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) is a primary focus for me and it’s a unique context in the security world.”