Maximising student potential.

Critical Incident Policy 19.3.19

Critical Incident Policy



St Declan's Community College, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford




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School Name

St Declan's Community College

Date Of  Commencement



Cathy Mannix, Elaine Denn, Martin Carroll, Janine Flynn, Gráinne Walsh


St Declan’s Community College aims to protect the well-being of its students and staff by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times. The Board of Management, through Ms G. Walsh, Principal, has drawn up a Critical Incident Management Plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans.

Review and Research

The CIMT have consulted resource documents available to schools on and including:

  • Responding to Critical Incidents Guidelines and Resources for Schools (NEPS 201 6)
  • Suicide Prevention in Schools: Best Practice Guidelines (IAS, National Suicide Review Group (2002)
  • Suicide Prevention in the Community - A Practical Guide (HSE 2011)
  • Well-Being in Post-Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (DES, DOH, HSE 2013)
  • Well-Being in Primary Schools - Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion

(DES, DOH, HSE 201 5)

Define what you mean by the term ‘critical incident’

The staff and management of St Declan’s Community College recognise a critical incident to be “an incident or sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school”. Critical incidents may involve one or more students or staff members, or members of our local community. Types of incidents might include:

  • The death of a member of the school community through accident, violence, suicide or suspected suicide or other unexpected death
  • An intrusion into the school
  • An accident involving members of the school community
  • An accident/tragedy in the wider community
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism, etc
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community


The aim of the CIMP is to help school management and staff to react quickly and effectively in the event of an incident, to enable us to maintain a sense of control and to ensure that appropriate support is offered to students and staff. Having a good plan should also help ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited. It should enable us to effect a return to normality as soon as possible.

Creation of a coping supportive and caring ethos in the school

We have put systems in place to help to build resilience in both staff and students, thus preparing them to cope with a range of life events. These include measures to address both the physical and psychological safety of the school community.

Physical safety

  • Evacuation plan formulated
  • Regular fire drills occur
  • Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked
  • Pre-opening supervision in the school yard (possibly include details)
  • Main Reception area as only entrance door available to visitors during class time

Psychological safety

The management and staff of St Declan’s Community College aim to use available programmes and resources to address the personal and social development of students, to enhance a sense of safety and security in the school and to provide opportunities for reflection and discussion.

  • Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is integrated into the work of the school. It is addressed in the curriculum by addressing issues such as grief and loss; communication skills; stress and anger management; resilience; conflict management; problem solving; help-seeking; bullying; decision making and prevention of alcohol and drug misuse. Promotion of mental health is an integral part of this provision
  • Staff have access to training for their role in SPHE
  • Staff are familiar with the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures and details of how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures
  • Books and resources on difficulties affecting the post primary school student are available
  • Information is provided on mental health in general and such specific areas as signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Staff are informed in the area of suicide awareness and some are trained in interventions for suicidal students
  • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies. A list of these agencies may be found
  • Inputs to students by external providers are carefully considered in the light of criteria about student safety, the appropriateness of the content, and the expertise of the providers. See DES 0023/2010 (Post-Primary)
  • The school has a clear policy on bullying and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy
  • There is a care system in place in the school using the "Continuum of Support" approach which is outlined in the NEPS documents published on 2007 for primary schools and 2010 for post primary schools. See also Student Support Teams in Post Primary Schools (2014). These documents are available on
  • Students who are identified as being at risk are referred to the designated staff member (e.g. guidance counsellor or support teacher), concerns are explored and the appropriate level of assistance and support is provided. Parents are informed, and where appropriate, a referral is made to an appropriate agency.
  • Staff are informed about how to access support for themselves.


Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT)

A CIMT has been established in line with best practice. The members of the team were selected on a voluntary basis and will retain their roles for at least one school year. The members of the team will meet annually to review and update the policy and plan. Each member of the team has a dedicated critical incident folder. This contains a copy of the policy and plan and materials particular to their role, to be used in the event of an incident.

Team leader: Gráinne Walsh, Principal  


  • Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting
  • Coordinates the tasks of the team
  • Liaises with the Board of Management; DES; NEPS; SEC
  • Liaises with the bereaved family

(Note - It is important to consider who will take the lead in the absence of the team leader. )

Garda liaison Gráinne Walsh, Principal  

  • Liaises with the Gardaí
  • Ensures that information about deaths or other developments is checked out for accuracy before being shared

Staff liaison Gráinne Walsh, Principal  & Elaine Murray, Deputy Principal


  • Leads briefing meetings for staff on the facts as known, gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions, outlines the routine for the day
  • Advises staff on the procedures for identification of vulnerable students
  • Provides materials for staff (from their critical incident folder)
  • Keeps staff updated as the day progresses
  • Is alert to vulnerable staff members and makes contact with them individually
  • Advises them of the availability of the EAS and gives them the contact number.

Student liaison Cathy Mannix, Guidance Counsellor


  • At post-primary level, may co-ordinate information from tutors and year heads about students they are concerned about
  • Alerts other staff to vulnerable students (appropriately)
  • Provides materials for students (from their critical incident folder)
  • Maintains student contact records (R1).
  • Looks after setting up and supervision of ‘quiet’ room where agreed

Community/agency liaison Elaine Denn, Guidance Counsellor


  • Maintains up to date lists of contact numbers of
    • Key parents, such as members of the Parents Council
    • Emergency support services and other external contacts and resources
  • Liaises with agencies in the community for support and onward referral
  • Is alert to the need to check credentials of individuals offering support
  • Coordinates the involvement of these agencies
  • Reminds agency staff to wear name badges
  • Updates team members on the involvement of external agencies

Parent liaison Martin Carroll


  • Visits the bereaved family with the team leader
  • Arranges parent meetings, if held
  • May facilitate such meetings, and manage ‘questions and answers’
  • Manages the ‘consent’ issues in accordance with agreed school policy
  • Ensures that sample letters are typed up, on the school’s system and ready for adaptation
  • Sets up room for meetings with parents
  • Maintains a record of parents seen
  • Meets with individual parents
  • Provides appropriate materials for parents (from their critical incident folder)

Media liaison Janine Flynn


  • In advance of an incident, will consider issues that may arise and how they might be responded to (e.g. students being interviewed, photographers on the premises, etc)
  • In the event of an incident, will liaise where necessary with the SEC; relevant teacher unions etc.
  • Will draw up a press statement, give media briefings and interviews (as agreed by school management)

Administrator Niamh Hassett


  • Maintenance of up to date telephone numbers of
    • Parents or guardians
    • Teachers
    • Emergency services
  • Takes telephone calls and notes those that need to be responded to
  • Ensures that templates are on the schools system in advance and ready for adaptation
  • Prepares and sends out letters, emails and texts
  • Photocopies materials needed
  • Maintains records

Record keeping Gráinne Walsh, Elaine Murray, Cathy Mannix, Elaine Denn, Martin Carroll, Janine Flynn, Niamh Hassett

In the event of an incident each member of the team will keep records of phone calls made and received, letters sent and received, meetings held, persons met, interventions used, material used etc.

Niamh Hassett will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls, sending letters, photocopying materials, etc.

Confidentiality and good name considerations

Management and staff of St Declan’s Community College have a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of people involved in any incident and will be sensitive to the consequences of public statements. Members of school staff will bear this in mind, and seek to ensure that students do so also, e.g. the term ‘suicide’ will not be used unless there is solid information that death was due to suicide, and that the family involved consents to its use. The phrases ‘tragic death’ or ‘sudden death’ may be used instead. Similarly, the word ‘murder’ should not be used until it is legally established that a murder was committed. The term ‘violent death’ may be used instead.

Critical Incident Rooms

In the event of a critical incident, the following rooms are designated for the indicated purposes

Room Name:

Designated Purpose:

Staff Room

Main room for meeting staff

Tutor Time Rooms

Meetings with students

Gym for large groups,

Principal and Deputy Principal Offices for individual meetings (as appropriate)


Meetings with parents

Principal’s Office

Meetings with media

Guidance Rooms

Individual sessions with students

Principal’s and Deputy Principal Offices

Meetings with other visitors


 Consultation and communication regarding the plan

All staff were consulted and their views canvassed in the preparation of this policy and plan. Students and parent/guardian representatives were also consulted and asked for their comments.

Our school's final policy and plan in relation to responding to critical incidents has been presented to all staff. Each member of the critical incident team has a personal copy of the plan.

All new and temporary staff will be informed of the details of the plan by Deputy Principal

The plan will be updated annually (October)

Critical Incident Management Team




Team leader:

Gráinne Walsh

 All staff members have been given this number

Garda liaison

Gráinne Walsh


Staff liaison

Gráinne Walsh, Elaine Murray


Student liaison

Cathy Mannix


Community liaison

Elaine Denn


Parent liaison

Martin Carroll


Media liaison

Janine Flynn



Niamh Hassett


Short term actions – Day 1



Gather accurate information


Who, what, when, where?


Convene a CIMT meeting – specify time and place clearly


Contact external agencies


Arrange supervision for students

Deputy Principal

Hold staff meeting

All staff

Agree schedule for the day

Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor

Inform students – (close friends and students with learning difficulties may need to be told separately)

Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor assisted by Year Heads, Class Tutors other appropriate teachers

Compile a list of vulnerable students

Guidance Counsellor assisted by Year Heads and Class Tutors

Prepare and agree media statement and deal with media

Principal and Janine Flynn

Inform parents

Principal and Martin Carroll

Hold end of day staff briefing

Principal, Deputy Principal

Medium term actions - (Day 2 and following days)



Convene a CIMT meeting to review the events of day 1


Meet external agencies

Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor

Meet whole staff

Principal, Deputy Principal

Arrange support for students, staff, parents

Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor

Visit the injured

Principal, Deputy Principal Martin Carroll

Liaise with bereaved family regarding funeral arrangements

Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor

Agree on attendance and participation at funeral service


Make decisions about school closure


Follow-up – beyond 72 hours



Monitor students for signs of continuing distress

Class teachers

Liaise with agencies regarding referrals

Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellors

Plan for return of bereaved student(s)

Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellors

Plan for giving of ‘memory box’ to bereaved family

Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellors

Decide on memorials and anniversaries

BOM/Staff, parents and students

Review response to incident and amend plan






051-295630 (Kilmacthomas)

051-391620 (Tramore)



Fire Brigade / Ambulance

999 / 112

Local GPs


Kilmacthomas Health Centre


Dr John McElduff

Dr Michael Griffin


WWETB (Director of Schools)


Principal has mobile number of Director of Schools

HSE (Waterford)




Child and Family Mental Health Service (CAMHS)


School Inspector


NEPS Psychologist

Ms Theresa Thornton,

Mob number available from Principal







087 - 9025162

State Exams Commission


Employee Assistance Service

1800 411 057


Free Call 116 1230

Chair of BoM (Cllr Oliver Coffey)

Principal has number

TUSLA – Child Health Officer



Suicide Resource Office




Dear Parent /Guardian,

The school has experienced (the sudden death/injury) to one of our students/staff. We are deeply saddened by this death/injury.

(Brief details of the incident, and in the case of death, perhaps some positive remembrances of persons lost).

We have support structures in place to help your child cope with this tragedy. (Elaborate)

It is possible that your son/daughter may have some feelings that he/she may like to discuss with you. You can help your son/daughter by taking time to listen to him/her and encouraging him/her to express his/her feelings. It is important to give truthful information that is appropriate to his/her age.

If you would like any advice or support you may contact the following people at school:


Yours sincerely,


Gráinne Walsh


Sample letter requesting consent for Involvement of Outside Professionals.


Dear Parents/Guardians,

Following the recent (tragedy/ death of x) we have arranged specialist support for students in the school who need particular help.

(X) is available to help us with this work. The support will usually consist of talking to students either in small groups or on a one to one basis, and offering reassurance and advice as appropriate. Your son/daughter has been identified as one of the students who would benefit from meeting with (X).

If you would like your son/daughter to receive this support, please sign the attached permission slip and return it to the school by …..

If you would like further information on the above or if you would like to talk to the psychologist, please indicate this on the slip, or contact the school.

Yours sincerely,


Gráinne Walsh,



 I / We consent to having our son meet with ………….. I understand that my son may meet                   in an individual or group session, depending on the arrangements that are thought most appropriate.

Name of Student:                                            


Date of Birth:                                                             


(Parents /Guardians).







1800 66 66 66




1890 303 302


1800 80 48 48


1850 334 999

C.I.P.C. (Counselling In Primary Care)

051 359088


1800 742 645


1890 474 474


01 284 1166

National Counselling Service (Comhar Adult Counselling Service)

1800 234 118

Pieta House 24/7 Suicide Helpline

1800 247 247

Shine Ireland

051 852 528

S.H.I.P. (Self Harm Intervention Programme)

087 258 6028


If you or somebody you know is in need of immediate help for physical or psychological stress or anxiety, you can access help at your local Emergency Department (24 hours a day, 365 days a year), through your local GP or through CAREDOC (out of hours: 6pm to 8am).
























This policy was ratified by the Board of Management of the College on


It may be reviewed at any point in the future.


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051 294200