Critical Incidents are abnormal/uncommon events that may
evoke great distress for those involved. In the aftermath of these events,
individuals and their families are at a high risk for developing critical
incident stress reactions or the more serious post-traumatic stress disorder.
Three events, which often qualify as “Critical Incidents” in
our lives, are:
- The loss of someone close to us or under our care/supervision
- The belief that we may have come close to losing our own life
- Watching another person lose their life
What is A Stress Reaction?
Dr. Jeffrey T. Mitchell, Associate Professor of Psychology
at the University of Maryland and cofounder of the International Critical
Incident Stress Foundation, Inc., has defined critical incident stress as the normal reaction of a normal person to an abnormal event.
In the context of critical incident stress management,
stress reactions are psychological and physiological changes that occur in a
person who has been exposed to a stressful event. Stress reactions may appear within days or they may take
months or years to surface. If stress reactions do not diminish in frequency
and intensity within a few weeks of the event, assistance from a mental health
professional may be necessary.
The following list of common stress reactions was provided by the International Critical
Incident Stress Foundation, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland.