Barro Colorado Island Station

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Provide the following information:
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Incident Commanders
Meeting Places
Areas of Refuge
Portable Defibrillation Machine

Barro Colorado Island (BCI), a 1,560-hectare island, is STRI's primary site for the study of lowland moist tropical forests. Together with five adjacent peninsulas, BCI forms the 5,600-hectare Barro Colorado Nature Monument (BCNM), which is located in the middle of the Panama Canal. Access to BCI is by regularly scheduled STRI boat service from the Gamboa dock, 45 minutes away. You must show your valid STRI ID to enter the Gamboa dock area.

BCI is remote from medical facilities. To get medical attention, you need to travel by boat to Gamboa, and then to Panama City. Furthermore, most field sites on the island are accessible only by trail or boat. Thus, precautions need to be taken to avoid injury, especially in the field.

Additional Security and Safety Information for the BCI Station

In addition to the security information on Panama in general and STRI's security and safety policies, the following applies to the BCI Station.

  • Aquatic activities - Recreational boating, swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing and other related aquatic activities around the BCNM are not permitted by STRI policy. This policy is in place to be consistent with ACP regulations and to avoid hazardous interactions with crocodiles and aquatic vegetation.
  • Fish sampling trips must be done following the buddy system due to the many crocodiles present in the BCNM.
  • First-Aid - There are no medical treatment facilities at BCI. The Game Wardens and some other staff have been trained in first aid and should be contacted to coordinate any medical emergency response. If you suffer severe allergies or have any other health condition that first responders should know about, please let the BCI administrator knows upon your arrival.
  • Drinking water - Water at the station is safe to drink; however; while the canal expansion work is going on, bottled water is provided.
  • Dangerous fauna - Consult with the station administrators about any dangerous fauna that could be encountered such as crocodiles, snakes, insects, scorpions, wasps, ants, bees, sand flies and other insects that carry tropical diseases.
  • Snakes Bites -
    • Stay calm. (There are cases when the snake bites but it does not inoculates venom).
    • Call for help (212-8911 or 212-8211).
    • Avoid unnecessary movements (i.e. Do not walk, nor run, nor do any strenuous movements that will speed your blood circulation).
    • Wash the wound with plain water and cover it with a loose bandage to avoid infection.
    • You will need to get transported by stretcher (if in a remote area) or by ambulance to the nearest public hospital: Hospital Santo Tomás (Panamá - 507-5600).
  • Criminal activities in the area -
    • Robberies are rare, but keep your belongings (e.g., money and personal documents) secure and room and laboratory doors locked.
    • Game Wardens and the Ecological Police conduct joint patrols in the BCNM to control poaching. In the unlikely event that you encounter poachers, do not confront them but return directly to the station and notify the Game Wardens of the event.
  • Physical security and safety - The station has Game Wardens on duty 24 hrs/day, 365 days/year, a fire alarm system, potable water, an emergency generator, first aid equipment, communication via Internet, wired telephone lines, GPS-SPOT and an Iridium satellite phone for emergency use.

Emergency Information

  • STRI Headquarters Security Guard Booth 212-8911/212-8211
    (from BCI Station phones dial 28911 or 28211)
  • Incident Commanders
  • Meeting Places
    • Primary meeting place: Green area next to the BCI entrance sign
    • Secondary meeting place (to be used if the primary meeting place is affected by the emergency): Heliport
  • Areas of Refuge
    • Internal hallways in all buildings away from windows
    • Dormitory bathrooms.
  • Portable Defibrillation Machine
    • Gamewarden Office by the dock.

Safety and Security Related links

Facilities Related links