Critical Incident Response, Consultation, and Training

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Critical Incidents

Often unnoticed is the impact that various sized disasters can have on our government leadership. This is true locally, regionally, statewide, and at the national level. Although our leaders in government occupy very high positions in our community, they are, at the end of the day, human just like each of us. As such, they are not immune to the normal levels of traumatic stress that can impact their ability to function.

What is most important, is that our leaders in government recognize that they can become impacted just like anyone else. Once they understand this, they are are in a much better position to cope with their own reactions to the incident. There have been wonderful developments in recent decades as local leaders, FEMA, and disaster mental health specialists, such as myself, now provide Pre-Incident training to help our leaders function at their highest when we need them the most. Here is a fairly representative list of critical incidents that can impact government officials:
Below are Critical Incidents in a Government setting:

  • Employee dies unexpectedly
  • Employee dies expectedly
  • Serious injury to a fellow employee
  • Serious illness of a fellow employee
  • Being an eyewitness to a particularly gruesome incident
  • Suicide of a co-worker
  • Murder/suicide by a current or former employee
  • Assault on one or more employees
  • Explicit threats of assault on self and others including colleagues and family members
  • One or more employees becomes a hostage
  • Catastrophic equipment failure resulting in death or injury of one or more employees (e.g. electrocution on an assembly line)
  • Robbery
  • Sexual assault or threat of sexual assault
  • Naturally occurring incidents (e.g. earthquakes, fires, floods, extreme weather events)
  • Technological disasters (e.g. total communications failures, catastrophic breach of radioactive materials)
  • Operational decisions resulting in death or other serious injury to one or more employees
  • Policy and ad hoc operational decisions resulting in death or other serious injury to one or more civilians
  • Political decision resulting in death and/or injury
  • OSHA investigation
  • Unexpected breaches in security resulting in injury or death
  • Working under threatening WMD conditions including biological, radiological, chemical, fire, and explosive
  • Traumatic incidents with particularly strong sensory stimuli (e.g. smell of blood, smell of gas related to an explosion)
  • Knowing the victim
  • Identifying with the victim
  • Victim is similar in age/appearance to you or a loved one
  • Other traumatic incidents within a short period of time
  • Prolonged resuscitation with negative outcome
  • Dealing with hysterical and demanding employees
  • Any incident that has compromised or could comprise one or more person’s ability to function

Note: If you are not certain if you and/or members of your organization may have been exposed to a critical incident, you are encouraged to contact Dr. Brown for a telephone consult. He will help you assess the incident and it’s impact in order to determine what response might be appropriate.