Tragedies happen. They're often sudden. And organizations are seldom prepared to deal with the emotional impact on the people involved. When an unusual event happens to normal people, it can affect their ability to do their jobs. The result can ultimately mean lost production. To avoid that, employees need a chance to "debrief" and deal with the trauma.
The definition of a "Critical Incident" varies for each organization. However, industry standards define it as:
- Any unforeseen accident, violence, or threat that an individual witnesses(or affected by) that has resulted or could result in that person suffering extreme mental anguish.
- Any incident that will likely result in those involved experiencing significant emotional disturbance, including post-traumatic stress.
- a student commits suicide
- a church building burns
Research shows that witnesses to a traumatic event, or those affected by a traumatic event, recover faster and better when they are involved in the debriefing process. Pine Rest's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) helps witnesses to tragedy work through the event so they can get back to the business of doing business.
All CIRT members receive special training in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. Disciplines available include social work, psychology, nursing, education, and chaplaincy.
The employer, human resource director, pastor, principal or other authorized representative from your organization starts the process with a call to the Critical Incident Response Team coordinator. Together, they'll decide the best way to handle the incident based on the size of the group and the severity of the trauma. Phone consultation with a CIRT member is available 24-hours-a-day, 7 days a week. The team can be at your business, church or school between 24-72 hours after the critical incident.
CIRT members help employees involved with the critical incident:
- deal with the facts
- begin to process their feelings
- learn what normal reactions they can expect to experience
After the initial visit, the Critical Incident Response Team provides follow-up. They can meet with a group or individuals. They will recommend further counseling or professional help, if necessary. Critical Incident Response Team members also provide consultation in the weeks following an event to insure continued progress for employees, students, faculty, parishioners, and staff.
Prevention is the key to insure your staff handles a tragic incident. The Pine Rest Critical Incident Response Team is available to help your employees. Although incidents and employee needs vary, the average debriefing is two hours. Cost for a debriefing is $150 per hour, per clinician, and usually includes the services of two CIRT members.
To learn more about CIRT and other services Pine Rest offers to area businesses, contact Michael Reiffer, MSW, LMSW at (616) 281-6305.