Critical Incident Support

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Employer Fact Sheet

Your organization has just experienced an incident that will involve stress. In helping to prepare employees who are feeling sadness, fear, and perhaps anger in reaction to what has happened to deal with their emotions, we are providing the attached information for distribution to employees prior to the group sessions that we will be providing in the next day or two.

Employer – Human Resource Information

  1.   Employer Fact Sheet
  2.    This document reviews some of the information that we discussed, specifically the debriefing session(s) that are scheduled. Please refer to this outline in making the arrangements for the group session.
  3.   Employee Information
  4.    Please make copies and distribute to employees prior to the session.

A Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) helps employees deal with the short or long term after effects of a critical incident, such the death of a co-worker, robbery or any trauma within the workplace. Appropriate, timely intervention greatly decreases the likelihood of work-related problems and helps individuals recover more quickly.

By supporting CISD intervention the employer conveys to the employees concern and caring for their welfare. CISD enables employees to return to their previous level of productivity more rapidly. Lost time, stress-related ailments and absenteeism are reduced. Assistance is provided to human resources, management and supervisors.

The following are suggestions to be considered when scheduling a debriefing:

Contact the HelpPeople EAP as soon as possible after any critical incident occurs. We will assist you in determining your needs, arranging intervention and will provide consultation and support.

  • A debriefing is most effective when scheduled 24-48 hours after the incident.
  • Prior to the debriefing, HelpPeople staff will meet with management or company representatives to assess and review the incident.
  • Any employee or manager affected by the traumatic event may attend the debriefing. There is no rank in the debriefing. Attendance is encouraged, but not mandatory.
  • A quiet, private, comfortable room free of interruptions is desirable. There should be sufficient comfortable seating available and comfort needs available, such as tissues. The meeting should not be interrupted. Pagers, cell phones, beepers etc should be turned off. Participants are asked to remain in the meeting for the entire time. Late comers are discouraged, as they will interrupt the group process.
  • It is strongly advised that the debriefing group be no larger than 15-20 participants. Approximately 1-1 1/2 hours should be allotted. Each situation is different and the HelpPeople counselor will assist you with arrangement considerations.
  • It is a nice gesture if there is water, decaffeinated beverages and/or fruit juices available for participants to have after the debriefing. This allows for a transition period before returning to work.
  • The HelpPeople debriefer will provide general feedback to the company representative. Specific information regarding the debriefing’s content is held confidential within the limits specified by law.
  • HelpPeople will provide follow-up services as needed.

Critical Incident Stress Reactions Information Sheet

You have experienced a traumatic event that may be temporarily overwhelming to you mentally, physically and/or emotionally. Even though the event may be over, you may now be experiencing or may experience later, some strong emotional or physical reactions. It is very common, in fact quite normal, for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have in some way witnessed or responded to a critical incident. Sometimes the reactions to critical incidents appear immediately after the traumatic event. Sometimes they may appear a few hours or a few days later, and, in some cases, weeks or months may pass before the stress reactions occur.

The signs and symptoms of critical incident stress may last a few days, a few weeks or even a few months, and occasionally longer depending on the severity of the critical incident. With understanding and support from others, the stress reactions usually pass more quickly. Occasionally the experience of the critical incident is so painful that professional assistance from a counselor may be necessary. This does not imply craziness or weakness. It simply indicates that the particular traumatic event was just too powerful for the individual to manage at this time in his or her life.



Upset stomach

Tremors (lips, hands)

Feeling uncoordinated

Profuse sweating




Chest pain (get it checked)

Rapid heartbeat

Rapid breathing

Increased blood pressure


Muscle aches

Sleep disturbances

Change in appetite

Decrease in sexual interest/desire


Slowed thinking

Difficulty making decisions

Difficulty in problem solving


Disorientation (time & place)

Difficulty with figures

Difficulty concentrating

Memory problems

Difficulty naming objects

Repeated visions of the incident

Distressing dreams

Poor attention spans








Feeling lost

Feeling abandoned

Feeling isolated

Feeling unappreciated

Worrying about others



Feeling numb

Easily startled