A critical incident within the community can be overwhelming and threatening and may lead to distress. It can come in many form but is typically describes as any event or series of events that is sudden, overwhelming, threatening or protracted. This may be an assault, threats, severe injury, death, fire or a bomb threat.
Effects of Critical Incidents
This can be harmful when a person has demands and expectations that are out of keeping with their needs, abilities, skills and coping strategies. Distress can result in a decline in performance and in overall levels of wellbeing.
Critical Incidents & Debriefing
It is normal to react emotionally to a critical incident. This may involve recurrent thoughts about the event, feeling uneasy or anxious, mood changes, restlessness, feeling tired and disturbed sleep.
Often debriefing is required at very short notice and where possible we endeavour to react to provide support on demand when required.
Debriefing is not counselling. It is a structured voluntary discussion aimed at putting an abnormal event into perspective. It offers workers clarity about the critical incident they have experienced and assists them to establish a process for recovery.
Trained debriefers help all those affected to explore and understand a range of issues, including:
The sequence of events.
The causes and consequences.
Each person’s experience.
Any memories triggered by the incident.
Normal psychological reactions to critical incidents.
Methods to manage emotional responses resulting from a critical incident
Stress responses can often develop over time however and so follow up support may be required by some employees. Short term counselling can help protect against ongoing difficulties.
Where other more complex issues arise help it can also help identify where employees can be signposted for appropriate support.