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Critical Incident Response Team

What is Critical Stress

When you experience a critical event that overwhelms your normal ability to cope or is extraordinary in some way, you will experience a reaction. These reactions are normal and common for people to experience when they have been through a critical event. Sometimes these reactions occur immediately after the traumatic event. Sometimes they appear a few hours or days later. In some cases, the reactions occur weeks or even months later.


The signs and symptoms of a stress reaction may last a few days or a few weeks, depending on the severity of the traumatic event. Talking to friends and loved ones to get their support usually helps speed the healing process. The are however times when a peer support team or professional counselor are required to help you regain control of your life and get through the experience. Needing help to recover does not mean you are crazy or weak, only that you are a normal person who has been through an overwhelming event.


These are some common signs of the stress associated with traumatic events.


fatigue, nausea, muscle tremors, twitches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, rapid heart, rate, great thirst, headache, weakness.



blaming someone, confusion, poor attention, poor decisions, hyper-alert, poor concentration, memory problems, poor problem solving, problems thinking, nightmares, disturbed thought.



guilt, grief, denial, panic state, shock, uncertainty, depression, apprehension, anger, and agitation.



change in activity, change in speech, withdrawal, emotional outburst, suspicious, loss of appetite, increased appetite, unable to rest, pacing, antisocial acts. alcohol consumption.


Things To Do


Within the first 24-72 hours, periods of physical exercise alternating with times of relaxation will help ease the physical symptoms.

 Structure your time, keep busy and occupied.

 You are a normal person having normal reactions, donít label yourself !!!

 Talk to people you trust about what you are thinking and feeling.

 Donít use drugs or alcohol to cover up your feelings. This will prolong recovery and lead to other significant issues such as addiction.

 Reach out to people who care, talking is a healing medicine.

 Spend time with others.

 Help your family and co-workers by sharing your thoughts mid feelings.

 Do things that feel good to you.

 Donít make any life changes or major decisions.

 Get plenty of rest.

 Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings.

 Reoccurring thoughts, dreams or flashbacks are normal. They will decrease over time and become less painful.

 Keep as normal of a schedule as you can.

 Eat nutritious and regular meals, even if you donít feel like it.

Hug the people you care about.


When a friend has been through a critical event


 Listen to them, listen to them, listen to them.

 Talking is the best thing they can do to start the healing process.

 Spend time with them to be supportive even if they do not ask for help.

 Reassure them that they are safe.

 Help them with every day tasks like child care, cooking, etc.

 Donít take their anger or irritability personally.

 Donít say they are@ lucky it was not worse.í Traumatized people are not helped by such statements.

Tell them you are sorry such a trauma occurred.