Spokane’s Ambassadors Group will add GPS phones for summer student trips

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 2011, 5:16 P.M.

Spokane company backs further safe-travel steps

Spokane’s Ambassadors Group will introduce a safety feature that gives its teachers, while on tour, emergency-enabled international global positioning system cell phones.

Providing a GPS phone to tour groups is a first among companies offering student travel, said Meredith Banka, vice president of marketing for Ambassadors Group. The company promotes student education tours with accompanying adults and teachers.

“Student travel safety is our No. 1 priority,” Banka said in an email. “Annually we spend more than $3 million on our safety practices and procedures,” she said.

That announcement came after a Minnesota couple launched two nonprofit groups to encourage and advocate for safer student travel and exchange programs. Those sites are and

The nonprofit sites launched on the anniversary of the birthday of their son, Tyler Hill, who was 16 when he died of a health problem while on a student ambassador trip to Japan in 2007. The company settled, without admitting wrongdoing, with the family after they filed a wrongful death suit.

“We believe the impact of international student travel is valuable for all students, even those with pre-existing medical conditions,” Banka added in the message.

“We take extensive precautions to ensure that all pre-existing conditions are disclosed prior to travel, and that proper physician approval is obtained,” she said, adding travelers and student families bear the chief obligation to follow proper medical protocols.

Ambassador Group fully supports ClearCauseFoundation’s goal of guaranteeing safe travel for students, Banka noted.


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