Physical Safety and Hostile Environment Training

The IWMF is committed to helping improve the ability of journalists to report safely in an increasingly complex world, and improve their situational awareness, self-defense and first aid skills. Since 2014, we have organized 50 Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT) courses that have trained more than 700 journalists from diverse mediums, outlets, and levels of experience. In-person HEFAT trainings typically last four days, with at least 50 percent of the course focused on training through practical, realistic scenarios.

The IWMF organizes safety training courses in conjunction with every IWMF reporting trip, to ensure that our fellows have the skills needed to operate safely in challenging environments.  Additionally, the IWMF has organized trainings for local journalists through in-country training and in collaboration with members of the ACOS (A Culture of Safety) Alliance.

The IWMF also coordinates virtual HEFAT courses and physical safety workshops for groups and newsrooms; contact for more information.

I cannot emphasize enough how important the skills I learned from HEFAT – through IWMF’s support – were to keeping me safe. -Alice Su, Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists Grantee and IWMF Reporting Fellow

During our HEFAT courses, journalists participate in both classroom-based learning and scenarios to simulate situations that journalists may realistically encounter in the field, designed specifically for their regional context. Some of the topics covered in trainings may include:

Emergency First Aid | Digital Security | Self Defense | Hotel Security/Personal Security| Civil Unrest/Demonstrations | Situational Awareness | Emotional Care | Kidnapping | Navigating Checkpoints | Reaction under Gunfire

Facing physical threats? Get help now.

  • If you are a journalist experiencing online attacks, the IWMF will connect you to an expert for one-on-one  safety consultations. Request a consultation here.
  • Does your newsroom need help preparing its reporters to stay safe? The IWMF offers customized training workshops for U.S. newsrooms (for journalists of any gender). Email us for details at

Physical Safety Resources

MOOC: How to report safely: Strategies for women journalists and their allies

This MOOC, “How to report safely: Strategies for women journalists and their allies,” is organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas in partnership with the IWMF and UNESCO, with financial support from the Swedish Postcode Foundation. During this four-week massive open online course, students will learn frameworks to mitigate and manage associated risks for all women (cis, trans and femmes) and allies.


Strategies for Safely Covering Civil Unrest

This webinar, led by Jeff Belzil, the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Director of Security, and Corinne Chin, staff journalist at the Seattle Times, prepares journalists to cover civil unrest in the United States and how to best report safely with police and political extremist presences. The presenters covered the general tactics used by extremist groups, PPE and police crowd tactics. Maria Alejandra Silva Ortega from the International Women’s Media Foundation moderated the discussion.

Risk Assessment and Planning for Student Journalists

This webinar was led by journalist safety experts, highlighting strategies to help student journalists stay safe while covering a wide range of potentially risky situations by teaching them how to prepare for and react to threats against their physical safety. The discussion provided guidance specifically tailored to covering protests during a pandemic, and situations that women journalists and journalists of color may encounter in the field.

First aid in the field: Skills for journalists covering protests

U.S.-based journalists are facing unprecedented challenges to report. Amid civil unrest, a hostile political environment, and growing distrust of the media, journalists are putting their physical safety at risk to report the truth. This webinar from the IWMF, led by RPS Partnership’s Cath Mossom, covered casualty assessment, CPR and first aid including managing wounds, chest injuries and head injuries. Particular attention was paid to injuries journalists have received during recent protests, as well as administering first aid safely in a pandemic.