What is Critical Incident ?


A critical incident is defined by the National Code [under Standard 6] as ‘a traumatic event, or the threat of an event [within or outside Australia], which causes extreme stress, fear or injury’.

Critical incidents may include, but are not limited to:

  • Serious injury, illness, or death of a staff member
  • Staff members lost or injured during fieldwork experiences
  • A missing staff member
  • Severe verbal or psychological aggression
  • Physical assault
  • Staff members witnessing a serious accident or incidence of violence
  • Natural disaster e.g. epidemic, earthquake, flood, windstorm, hailstorm, or extremes of temperature
  • Traumatic incident within an international staff member’s home country, such as a political coup
  • Religious persecution, natural disaster
  • Fire, bomb-threat, explosion, gas or chemical hazard or
  • social issues e.g. sexual assault, drug use, alcohol abuse, internet abuse.

Critical incidents may trigger a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms, including increased heart rate, high blood pressure and anxiety. The initial action of Corpsychcare is to calm staff members following a critical incident and to ensure that their immediate needs are met. A member of staff, who was not involved in the incident, or affected by it, is responsible for this initial action.

Strategies to help manage the critical incident include:

  • Contact emergency services if necessary.
  • Convene a meeting for those involved as soon as possible.
  • Summarise the incident and clarify uncertainties.
  • Invite questions and discuss issues of concern.
  • Show care and support.
  • Draw up a plan of action, taking into account the needs of the staff.
  • Make short-term arrangements for work responsibilities.
  • Offer information on defusing and debriefing.

In all Critical incidents a critical incident form must be completed and given to management.

To see how the Critical Incident Trauma Response can be added to your EAP Service Agreement, please Contact Us today.