Critical incidents of their very nature tend to occur without warning and at any time of the day or night. This policy provides guidance for those whose task it is to manage such incidents. However, each crisis situation will demand a different set of responses.
A critical incident may be defined as any event that seriously affects members of the school community. The following list, though not exhaustive, delineates the kinds of incidents that may be categorised as critical incidents.
- Family bereavement
- Death, serious illness or serious accident involving a member of the school community
- Suicide of a member of the school community
- Serious damage to the school buildings through fire, flood, vandalism or some other cause
- Serious emergency on school premises
- Serious violence or the threat of serious violence to a member of the school community either within or without the school
- Serious injury or death of a student while involved in a school activity
- Intrusion into the school
- Disappearance of a member of the school community
- An accident or a tragedy in the wider community
Critical Incident Management Team
So that the school is in a position to respond effectively to any crisis that it may encounter, the Principal will establish a standing committee of the school staff comprising the following members of staff.
- Assistant Principal
- Relevant Year Head/Tutor
Procedures to be Followed in the Event of a Critical Incident Occurring
- Hearing the News
Once a critical incident comes to the attention of a member of the school community, he/she should, where possible and practical, inform the senior management of the school. However, where it is apparent that an emergency situation exists, it may be necessary to call one or other of the emergency services in the first instance.
- Establish the Facts
Before taking any action, it is crucial that the school has the correct information regarding the crisis. Therefore it is important that senior and involved staff gather to establish the facts – this may involve contacting Hospitals, Gardai, Emergency / Medical Services, Parents, etc.
- Senior Management to Convene a Meeting of the Critical Incident Team
Once the facts of the crisis have been established, a meeting of available members of the Critical Incident Team should be called. This group will need to agree an immediate plan of action, which may involve:
- Informing staff and students – where feasible all staff should be informed in the first instance.
- Contacting parents.
- Visiting families most intimately touched by the crisis.
- Organising a school assembly / Mass.
- Liaising with relevant support groups – Counsellors, HSE, NEPS, DES, etc.
- Agreeing a factual and sensitive statement with regard to the crisis – with a view to dispelling rumours while not adding to the distress of those involved or invading their privacy.
- Assigning tasks to members of the Critical Incident Team.
- Appointing person/s to handle phone inquiries and/or to deal with the media.
- Organising a timetable for the school to respond to the crisis – wherever possible adhering to normal timetables and routines – while avoiding any signs of insensitivity to those touched most intimately by the crisis.
- Where a funeral is involved and the school proposes to be involved in the funeral in some way, it will be necessary to liaise with the bereaved family regarding any such involvement; it should not be automatically assumed that the family will be happy to go along with whatever the school decides. Indeed, any public actions on the part of the school at the time of any such a bereavement should be discussed with the bereaved or their representatives before being embarked upon.
Organising a staff meeting and deciding whether or not an outside professional will be invited to that meeting. Where students are going to be in the school, it is critical that appropriate supervision be put in place for all students whose teachers or supervisors may be involved in meetings.