FAQ – Emergencies

Whom do I call if I have a medical emergency?

For health, safety, fire, and medical emergencies, dial 911 on any phone. This will connect you to an emergency operator who can send help to you. Be prepared to give the operator your name, your location, and the nature of the emergency. Don’t hang up – remain on the line until help arrives in the form of a police officer, fire truck, or ambulance (“EMT”) and they say you can hang up. If you are the victim of a crime, are being followed by suspicious person, see a crime in progress, witness an accident, believe someone needs an ambulance or emergency first aid, discover a very unsafe situation, etc., you should call. The authorities and safety officers would rather respond to several cases of non-life threatening cases than to not be called when they could have saved someone’s life.

Whom do I call if I have a legal emergency?

If you are arrested, detained, questioned by authorities, may be the victim of a crime or scam, etc., you will probably want to speak to a lawyer. The laws in the US – and your rights and responsibilities – are not easily understood and many honest and well-meaning international students have sometimes made their situation worse by not getting good legal assistance early. Enrolled F-1 students can and should call someone at Student Legal Services – their services are free, confidential, and very helpful. If they cannot help you, or if they are not available (e.g., when school is not in session), an OIS advisor would be happy to refer you to an off campus attorney. Private attorneys will charge you for their services, but it is almost always worth getting competent advice from an expert. If you have questions about scams, leases, traffic tickets or car accidents, theft, credit issues, etc., Student Legal Services can assist you.

What if I get stuck at the airport during inspections?

Occasionally something in your profile will cause extra scrutiny at the Port of Entry.   These can include, but are not limited to; being on a security ‘watch list’, not having the proper entry documents in order, having a prior termination in your SEVIS record, etc. If the first officer you meet cannot admit you immediately, you will be referred to something called “Secondary Inspection” which is a secure area within the airport where a more detailed questioning or security check can be performed.   If you are referred to secondary inspection please do not panic.  Remain calm, polite and friendly. Answer any questions the officer may have honestly, but be careful to only answer questions that are asked.  You may inadvertently confuse the officer further if you volunteer additional information or try to guess what the officer wants to know. In most cases, whatever the issue was is resolved and the student is admitted to the U.S. shortly afterwards and can catch the next flight to Raleigh. If an immigration inspector at the airport needs to contact someone from OIS about your ability to re-enter the US and it is not during normal business hours of Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern – please refer them to campus police (919.515.3000) who can reach us anywhere and anytime. We will call the airport or CBP office back and assist you to the best of our ability.

What if I get questioned by the FBI or ICE or another federal agency?

It is almost always in your best interest to co-operate with and answer questions from federal and local law agents. If you are very nervous or uncomfortable, or especially if you have done something that could get you in trouble, it is okay (recommended) to ask for someone to be present with you (like a lawyer from Student Legal Services) during any questioning. The few times international students in this area are questioned it is usually in a public place like a coffee shop or something (rather than in your apartment or lab). We recommend you answer questions honestly, be friendly, avoid getting too defensive or nervous.

Who can help me if there is a death or tragedy in my family?

If you experience a terrible event like the loss of a loved one, please let your friends, advisors, and others who care for you know about it. Consult with a trained counseling professional (a counselor in Student Counseling Center and/or a faith-based care provider). Contact an OIS advisor to discuss what resources and options you may have if you must travel abroad, take some time off school, etc. People are often unprepared for emergencies and sudden loss and it is critical that you get support and good advice from others who care about you. During times of sadness and grief you may not think clearly, remember some of the resources that are available to you, or consider all the options. There is no reason to experience tragedy or difficulty alone.

What if I get robbed or have something stolen?

Call the Police as soon as possible and fill out a report – let the Campus police know even if the crime took place off campus. If you need medical attention, go to the hospital. You should consider going to the Counseling Center also since most victims of crime also experience shock or other ongoing psychological symptoms. Remember to be thankful for your life and that money and most things can be replaced. Take preventive action in the future to reduce the risk of theft or other crime. The time to protect your valuables, of course, is before the crime (lock your doors, don’t leave valuables unattended or unsecured, don’t go out alone at night, etc). Raleigh is a fairly safe city and most thefts are “crimes of opportunity” (e.g., a dishonest person sees a laptop or bicycle lying around with no one looking), but there ARE dishonest and mean people in the world, so be safe and take care.

What if someone is harassing or stalking or threatening me? What if I am being victimized or the victim of domestic violence?

Get to a safe place immediately and call police (or campus police if you are on campus) if you feel like you are in danger or if you have been the victim of a crime. There are numerous offices (and people) on campus that can help you- if you don’t know who can help, contact OIS and we will make sure you know who the best people to talk to might be. Everyone has the right to a safe environment and no one should accept or tolerate illegal and mean behavior or attitudes. You can also talk to someone in the Office of Student Conduct, Student Legal Services, Office of Equal Opportunity, Women’s Center, Office of International Services, and numerous community organizations like InterAct, etc.

What if I am “pulled over” while driving (by a police car with flashing blue lights)?

Slow down, put on your right turn signal, and pull over to a safe place away from traffic off the road (like a well-lit parking lot or side street). Turn off the engine, leave the turn signal or hazard lights on, and remain in the car. The police officer may remain in the patrol car a few minutes while a background check is run on your license plates. Stay calm, remain in the car, roll your window down, and wait for the officer to approach you. The officer may ask you some questions (about your speed, driving manner, taillights that are not working, etc.).  The officer will probably ask you to handover your driving license, vehicle registration (which must be in the car), and possibly proof of auto insurance – you can get them ready, but do not make movements like you are reaching for a weapon in the glove compartment. The officer may take these back to the patrol car to run more checks, make notes, or write a ticket. Remain calm, answer any questions, and be polite. You may have trouble (or get a ticket or get arrested) if the officer notices something illegal (young children not in an approved car seat, passengers not wearing a seatbelt, open containers of alcohol, weapons or drugs in sight, etc).