Critical incident response - Pinnacle Trauma Services

Critical incident response

Critical incident response

What is a critical incident?

A critical incident is any event in the working environment that has the potential to traumatise those who witnessed or directly experienced the event. As you’d imagine, there’s quite a breadth to what this could be.

Key workers and those on the emergency services ‘bluelight’ frontline will regularly experience critical incidents but they can affect anyone, in any job. It could be anything from a serious workplace accident or a near-miss, to something like a suicide or a robbery, depending on when and where it affect anyone in any working environment.

People have a wide range of responses to critical incidents, and each response is unique: based on people’s own personal history, their involvement in the event, and their own mental, physical and emotional wellbeing before and after the incident. So how do you support the people who witnessed or experienced it?

How it can affect your people and your business

Managers in turn are often unclear on how to manage this kind of prolonged absence, so plenty simply steer clear of communicating with the person on leave. In turn that can be mis-interpreted by the employee as a lack of care by the company.

Our focus always – if it’s possible – is to help keep people at work. Adjustments might have to be made to what they do and what they’re exposed to; they might work fewer hours, for example. But they’re then still contributing without feeling overwhelmed. It’s not always possible of course. But the longer people are off work, the greater the chance of them never returning. In turn that can be the start of a downward spiral from which some struggle to recover.

How can we help?

Our response will always be determined by the severity of the situation. In the immediate aftermath, we go into a company to deliver psychological first aid. If the incident has just happened, employees will need to have basic psychological tools – strategies for self-care – to help them handle their initial response.

In our experience a rapid response is the most effective one: the sooner you can get help to people, the more quickly they will be able to start working through their own response to what has happened.

After the initial stage we work to identify people who need additional support, and help managers to broach those conversations responsibly with those affected. We also work with organisations to help them properly manage people returning to the workplace following time off.

“It’s relatively common for employees in this position to feel disempowered, lose confidence and forget what they’re capable of and if they do return to work – come back with heightened levels of anxiety. As a consequence, employees returning to work after a sizeable period of time sometimes need more time to get back up to speed.”

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