Critical Incident Criteria Checklist and Education

Critical Incident Criteria and Guidance
What is a Critical Incident: A critical incident is a potentially traumatic or distressing
workplace event that may overwhelm staff’s normally effective coping skills. All of the
following events may be defined as critical incidents.
Significant community disaster/event where staff is exposed to multiple victims
Violent attack in the workplace
Significant threat of violence in the workplace
Criminal activity on campus creating serious concerns to workplace safety
Occupational health risk (needle stick, contagious disease exposure)
Secondary victim (patient death due to error that impacts staff)
Death of patient, particularly pediatric death
Caring for patient with particularly graphic injuries
Illness/death of co-worker
Concerns about employee personal problems/competency/engagement
impacting work
Cumulative effects of repeated stress/trauma
Coping with extreme grief reactions of patient family members
It is important to respond and support staff following all types of critical incidents.
However, it’s recognized that critical incidents may vary in their intensity, scope, and
impact, meaning the resources needed to respond will vary by incident. Because of this,
we have defined two types of critical incidents: “Major Critical Incidents” and “Limited
Critical Incidents.”
Major Critical Incidents: these events impact multiple staff (>10) and/or are of such
severity or unusual nature that the impacted manager/s need CISS team support in
order to respond effectively. The “Major Critical Incident Flow Sheet” should be used to
guide the response.
Limited Critical Incidents: these events impact fewer staff (10 or fewer) and, in most
cases, can be managed effectively by the resources within the impacted area (e.g. PFA
trained managers and staff within the impacted area). The “Limited Critical Incident
Flow Sheet” should be used to guide the response.
If there is ever a question regarding whether an incident is “major” or “limited,” the CISS
team can be contacted to provide guidance. Additionally, if a manager/supervisor or
any staff member providing support following a critical incident needs support himself
or herself, they should contact the CISS team.
In addition to identifying the need for staff support following a critical incident as
defined by the event (as above), it’s also important to observe staff for possible
signs/symptoms of a stress response (even if we aren’t certain a critical incident has
occurred). These signs might include:
 Emotional Changes: staff appears more anxious, fearful, sad, more easily
overwhelmed, angry, and/or withdrawn
 Physical Changes: Staff complaining of physical symptoms such as headaches,
stomachaches, and/or appears shaky or easily startled
 Cognitive Changes: staff appears to have difficulty focusing or concentrating,
appears distracted and/or “out of it”
 Behavioral Changes: staff seems unable to relax, more withdrawn, is having
outbursts of anger/emotion, and/or exhibits deterioration in job performance.
If a staff member is exhibiting any of these signs, it’s important for the
manager/supervisor to check-in and explore whether these signs might be in response
to a workplace critical incident and, if so, activate the appropriate critical incident flow
If staff needs support unrelated to a critical workplace event, the manager can provide
appropriate referrals.
 If staff is at risk of hurting self or others or having severe, acute difficulties: call
Acute Psychiatric Services at 873-3161 or walk staff to APS (located by ED)
 If staff needs confidential support relating to a personal problem, psychiatric
issue, or chemical dependency issue, the staff member can be encouraged to call
HCMCs Employee Assistance Program (Company name can be listed here)
 If staff would like to initiate therapy services relating to mental or chemical
health difficulty and prefers to be seen at HCMC, they can call the HCMC
outpatient psychiatry clinic for an intake appointment at (612) 873-5723.
 If staff has a need for spiritual support/care, they can page the chaplain at ____
 If staff member is concerned about another staff member’s behavior/mental or
chemical health, they should contact their supervisor.