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All staff members, postdoctoral researchers, postgraduate students or undergraduate students and volunteers must read this document prior to undertaking fieldwork. Fieldwork is defined as any practical work carried out all personnel mentioned above for the purpose of teaching and/or research in places which are or not under, Institution control, but where STRI is responsible for the safety of those exposed to their activities.

The Tupper-Tivoli Complex is the headquarters of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute located in Panama City. It includes the Tupper Research Center, the Library, the Tivoli Administrative Building, a Conference Center, a bookstore, and a cafeteria. Adjacent to the main buildings is the Pastor’s House (maintenance and design groups) and the Logistical Support Center (Maintenance Shop and Traffic Department). The complex is located between Francisco J. Morales Avenues and George Lore Avenues. The main entrance to the complex is from George Lore Avenue and is controlled by security guards at the main guard booth. Entrance through this gate is allowed 24 hours a day.


The Tupper campus has offices and research laboratories for scientists as well as space for visiting researchers, fellows, and students. The library has an unrivalled collection of tropical sciences resources. There is a large auditorium, conference rooms, a full-service cafeteria and gift shop. The main building houses the offices for the director, associate directors, academic dean, visitor services office, communications, and administrative branches of STRI.

Criminal activities in the area

The facilities are located close to sensitive areas such as Curundu, San Miguel and Santana which should be avoided for security reasons. Due to the proximity to some other sensitive areas, caution should be exercised when walking between or around the other STRI facilities located at Ancon such as the CTPA Building the housing facility.

General security at the Complex is carried out by a contract security guard force. All emergency communications and notifications are received at the main security booth where the guards will activate the STRI emergency response plan. The guards are also assigned the duties of checking out and issuing the official vehicles keys when assigned to research. They will also check in the vehicles upon their return.

Security guards could ask to see your valid ID. Expired ID will confiscated. If directed they could also ask any person to show the contents of bags, boxes and or vehicles.

Key security recommendations

Check with the Scientific Coordinators (Raineldo Urriola, e-mail:  cel. 6614-9831 and/or Félix Rodríguez  cel. 6771-9138) and your sponsor or supervisor, the conditions of the areas you plan to visit and discuss all the potential emergencies that could encounter (e.g., getting lost, injuries, wildlife attacks, etc.).

Inform your estimated departure and return time. Avoid going out in the field alone. Have at least two different means of emergency communication devices (i.e., radio, cell phone, GPS-SPOT device and satellite phones).

Carry your STRI ID and your passport or copy of your passport including the page with the entry stamp.

Essential safety and survival equipment must always be carried e.g., torches, first aid kit, emergency food supply, maps, whistles, survival bags, etc.

In case of an accident or security incident contact the local authorities and inform your supervisor and STRI emergency phones 212-8911/8211. Consult STRI’s Security Office (212-8025) and ask them about the places you plan to visit and the safest routes to take.

Fieldwork recommendations and requirements

Register each trip in the Field Trip App (FTA)  Upon arrival, report your visit to the security guard/caretaker of the area and provide a printed copy of the FTA. Remember to close the Field Trip App after returning from your trip. If the field trip is not closed at the specific time of return, the system will generate emails in the Control Room, Security, etc. indicating that the person car has not returned. This will first activate verification with security and emergency response if there is no news from the group.

Terrestrial fieldwork

No one can drive on of the STRI vehicles if is not authorized. Ask to your supervisor about process to request a STRI driver license. Read the STRI vehicle policies. Be aware that you can only legally drive a vehicle in Panama for up to 90 days after arriving in the country using a foreign-issued driver’s license. Always wear a seatbelt. For more information contact to

Weather threats and health potential risks

Drinking water – Water at the Complex is safe to drink at water coolers and the Corotú Cafeteria. Panama City tap water is generally safety to drink. However, there have been occasions when weather-related conditions have negatively affected its quality. Therefore, consuming bottled water is the safest alternative when in doubt.

Dangerous Fauna – Consult with the station coordinators about any dangerous fauna that could be encountered close by your work area. Some examples are snakes, African bees and insects that carry tropical diseases.

In the event of snake bites, scorpions, bees, and other situations:

  • Stay calm. (There are cases when the snake bites, but it does not inoculate venom).
  • 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).

Medical professionals and facilities – In general, hospitals and medical personnel in Panama City provide prompt and adequate services. Usually, you can see a general doctor by going to any emergency room or private hospital clinic. Furthermore, obtaining an appointment with a specialist can be arranged within 2 days. Medical facilities outside Panama City are limited.

Medical facilities

Discuss with the group: the closest hospital and police station, emergency phone numbers, common sense rules (stay together, pay close attention to your surroundings, do not carry expensive electronic goods that can easily call attention from others, etc.). Call to the STRI emergency phone 212-8911 / 212-8211 or 911 if necessary.

Panama Province: Hospital Nacional (207 8100 or 306 3300) or Centro Medico Paitilla (265-8800 or 265-8891). DIJ (524-2520) National Policies (511-7000).

Colon Province: There are two private hospitals: Hospital 4 Altos (433-7400 or 433-7419) and the Centro Medico Caribe (441-4420); and one public hospital (Hospital Amador Guerrero) near to Galeta Station. For the private hospital attention, you will need to show a valid credit card.

Portable Defibrillation Machine are located at

  • Tupper Reception
  • Security Office
  • Sixth floor down the hall
  • Library attention to the user

Meeting places - Outdoors

  • Primary meeting place: Visitor’s parking next to main guard booth
  • Secondary meeting place (to be used if the primary meeting place is affected by the emergency): Green area across from General Services Building

Meeting Places – Indoor

  • Internal hallways away from windows
  • Tupper Auditorium
  • Tivoli Basement

Tsunami Evacuation Areas

  • CTPA and Ancon Hill
  • Any nearby hill or mountain
  • Another safer high place

Areas of Refuge- Indoor areas to use in case of external threats

  • Internal hallways away from windows
  • Tupper Auditorium
  • Tivoli Basement

Emergency Information

The Panama Ecological Police are headquartered in Gamboa. They provide support to STRI in the BCI Natural Monument and oversee security in Gamboa. Private guards provide security at the STRI.

STRI Headquarters Security Guard Booth 212-8911/212-8211 (from Tupper-Tivoli complex facilities phones dial 28911 or 28211)

Incident Commanders 

Radio Tupper by saying: “garita, garita, garita over…” or call for help 212-8911 / 212-8211 or 911 if necessary.