Field Expeditions

  • Contact the STRI Security Office before going to sensitve places such as the province of Darién or the Mosquitos Coast.
  • Check the conditions of the areas you plan to visit and the potential types of emergencies you might encounter (e.g. injuries, wildlife incidents, security concerns, etc.).
  • Talk with your Facility Manager, the security office, and your STRI host about your expedition plans.
  • Sign out using STRI's Field Trip Registration App. The App automatically alerts STRI Security, the Facility Manager, and your STRI host where you will be visiting, your estimated time of departure (ETD) and estimated time of return (ETR). In addition, if you fail to sign-in after your ETR, the App sends out a general alert.
  • Avoid going out in the field alone.
  • Have at least two different means of emergency communication devices when going out into the field (i.e. radio, cell phone, GPS-SPOT device and satellite phones). The number of SPOTs and Satallite phones are limited, please contact your site administrator to check for availability.
  • Ask STRI Facility Manager about satellite phone availability.
    • Ask the STRI Facility Manager whether or not there is radio and/or cell-phone coverage in your research area.
    • SPOT is a GPS device that can send out OK, HELP or 911 signals. The 911 signal will activate the system to send an email to up to 10 previously defined e-mail addresses. It also sends a message to SPOT's emergency operations center, which will call two emergency contacts to alert them of the emergency.
    • For boating expeditions at Bocas, use an Emergency Communication Pelican Case that includes a cellular phone and/or SPOT device.
  • Take a first-aid box with essential elements, including any prescription medicine you may need.
  • Wear appropriate field attire and carry drinking water.
  • If you will be driving on a road surrounded by trees, such as the Pipeline Road, take a saw or machete for use in removing downed trees from the path.
  • Take a flashlight, map and/or GPS.
  • Take your STRI ID, and a panamanian photo ID or copy of your passport, including the page with your Panama entry stamp.
  • Once you reach your destination:
    • Report your presence to authorities with offices in the area (e.g. SENAFRONT, ANAM). It is suggested that you have a brief explanation of your work in the area along with contact information printed on STRI letterhead to present to the authorities.
    • Be alert to any anomalous situation and do not take chances.
    • Get recommendations for and hire a local guide to accompany you during the field activity. Note the guide's name, contact information, and cedula number, and give that information to your host/supervisor.
  • Plan your daily activities ahead of time and avoid walking alone after dark.
  • If you encounter a law enforcement officer, tell him/her what you are doing.
  • If you will be entering caves, file a Cave Safety Plan with the STRI Safety Coordinator (
  • For boating expeditions:
    • Make sure to carry a personal flotation device for each person on the boat, fire extinguisher, bailing pails, anchor and line, first-aid kit, emergency flares, tools, a pair of oars and a whistle.
    • Verify proper condition and operation of boat systems: radio, battery, oil level, bilge pumps, propeller, navigational lights (green, red and white), and spotlight.
    • If diving, pick up diving safety equipment, including an oxygen kit and diving flag.
    • Take your boat operator license.

Related links

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