What is a Critical Incident?

Employees can feel overwhelmed. (Photo by  Nik Shuliahin  on  Unsplash )

Employees can feel overwhelmed. (Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash)

The World Health Organisation (WHO), describes a critical incident as an event out of the range of normal experience – one which is sudden and unexpected, involves the perception of a threat to life and can include elements of physical and emotional loss.

A critical incident can take many forms and occur anywhere. Examples of critical incidents that could occur in the workplace include:

  • Death of an employee (either in the line-of-duty or through a workplace incident)
  • Serious or life-threatening injury to employees
  • A near miss that threatens the health and safety of employees
  • Suicide of an employee
  • Loss of a patient after rescue attempts
  • Death or critical incident involving children
  • Violence inflicted on employee (including sexual assault)
  • Violent crime in or near the workplace
  • Events with excessive media interest
  • Natural disasters that affect work

How to Know When Help is Needed

Although each person's reaction will be unique. Individuals frequently report experiencing intense fear, helplessness, horror, shock and disbelief that the incident is happening or other similar reactions of distress. 

Disorientation, confusion, feeling detached or experiencing a sense of unreality about the incident are also common. As the “fight/flight” response is activated, physical responses beyond one's control can occur. These can include nausea, sweating, racing heart and trouble breathing. 

In the days and sometimes weeks following a critical incident, stress reactions may be experienced in a range of ways including: 

Physical Responses

Sleep difficulties; nightmares; nausea; headaches; diarrhea; muscle tension; agitation; increased blood pressure and heart rate. 

Cognitive Responses

Poor concentration; impaired memory; difficulty focusing; intrusive thoughts; flashbacks; difficulty making decisions; second guessing self; loss of a sense of control.

Emotional Responses

Anger; fear; irritability; sadness; grief; depression; numbness; anxiety; loss of trust; sense of loneliness.

Behavioural Responses

Self-destructive or careless; avoidance of reminders; change in appetite; increased use of alcohol or drugs; loss of interests; uncontrollable crying; argumentative; withdrawal from social network. 

If there is no support from the employer or the worker’s concerns are dismissed, workers can feel let down by their workplace. Poor morale, increased workplace accidents, staff turnover, depression and even suicide can result.

Together We Can Help. (Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash )

Together We Can Help. (Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

Providing Support

Critical Incident interventions may be utilized to lessen the likelihood of participants experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress after a critical incident. A group debriefing process is warranted at times to provide a space for participants to talk and share experiences, and for the facilitator to teach and provide information about the impact of critical incidents. In some instances a one-on-one support is more helpful. 

We provide: 

  • Group Debriefing (workplace, school, community, family)
  • Individual Debriefing
  • Post Traumatic Stress and Trauma Counselling

Urgent Requests for Critial Incident Support

Call 306-222-9741 and our reception service will have a counsellor call you the same day. If you are calling outside of business hours, please leave a message and a counsellor will get back to you as soon as possible the next business day.


Employee & Family Assistance Program

Bridge Counseling provides professional and confidential counselling/coaching services for assessing and resolving work, relationship, family, stress, health, and life issues to your employees. Create an Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) for your business.

Help your employees reduce and eliminate distress. The investment will pay off through: 

Ongoing support improves the workplace. (Photo by  Tim Gouw  on  Unsplash )

Ongoing support improves the workplace. (Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

  • Reduced employee absences and associated costs
  • Reduced health, drug and benefits or disability costs
  • Increased productivity and motivation of employees
  • Increased employee happiness and well-being
  • Attracting and retaining employees

We provide counselling; consultation for individuals, management, and groups; wellness services and resources, and critical incident interventions. Whether it is for a one-time emergency situation or for long-term support, we are here for you, your employees and their families.

We offer daytime, evening and Saturday appointments with a full range of services for individuals, couples, families, parents, children and teens.

If you are an employee considering our services, know that your identification and anything said in session will be kept confidential and anonymous. Aside from us, no one, not even your employer has the right to know you are receiving therapy.

Urgent Requests For Critical Incident Support - Call 306-222-9741

Our reception service will have a counsellor call you the same day. If you are calling outside of business hours, please leave a message and a counsellor will get back to you as soon as possible the next business day.

Fill out the Form Below

For more information or to start the process of setting up an Employee & Family Assistance Program for your company.

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