Critical Incident Policy

Presentation Secondary School,
Co. Kerry.


Adopted by the Board of Management 

Signed:                       ________________________________

                                    Chairperson of Board of Management


Review Date:             Reviewed on November 27, 2014.


Critical Incident Policy

Defining a Critical Incident

A Critical Incident is any incident or sequence of events, which overwhelms the normal coping mechanisms of the school and disrupts the running of the school. Critical Incident team will meet to decide whether it’s a critical incident or not.

Overview and Aim

The goal of the Critical Incident Management Policy (CIMP) for Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland is to provide a caring, safe and supportive environment, which respects the whole school community, so that all those involved will emerge from any critical incident knowing that there are structures in place that will help them deal appropriately with the event.

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 affect a return to normality as soon as possible.

Though the Principal obviously exercises a pivotal role in the school’s response to a critical incident, Best Practice recommends the formation of a Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) composed of key school personnel, in providing a supportive role. The role of NEPS is to support schools in supporting students and staff.

The rationale for this plan is to enable the school to identify risks and to have a communication plan in place that can be effectively put into action when an accident occurs in the school. It will be used in conjunction with all other school policies and procedures in promoting positive mental health and in creating effective care systems in the school.


Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland is committed to the welfare of its students. This is currently evident in the relationship between staff and students. Our School curriculum addresses issues such as grief and loss, communication skills, prevention of alcohol and drug misuse, self-esteem and bullying. All staff has been made aware of the ‘Children First Guidelines and Procedures’ and the Principal is the designated liaison person. The school’s pastoral care team meet on a weekly basis. School policies are up to date and regularly reviewed in consultation with key stakeholders.  All staff attend continuous professional development at regular intervals thereby ensuring recent developments in education and health and safety are complied with.


  1. A Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) exists in Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland. The members of the team will meet annually to review and update the Critical Incident Policy and Plan. Each member of the team has a dedicated critical incident folder. This will contain a copy of the policy and plan and materials particular to his/her role to be used in the event of an incident.
  2. Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland will endeavour to communicate clearly and appropriately with all the relevant stakeholders to its Critical Incident Policy and Procedures. (CEIST, Board of Management, Parents’ Association, Staff)
  3. The management and staff of Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland. have a responsibility to protect the privacy and name(s) of the person(s) involved in any incident and will be sensitive around the dissemination of any information.
  4. Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland. will develop a good working relationship with the local media based on respect for all parties involved in the communication of events and crisis situations.
Roles and Responsibilities in the Critical Incident Management Team
Team Responsibility
Team Leader – K.Broderick


Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting informing them of all relevant facts. Delegates and coordinates the tasks of the team.

Informs and liaises with the Board of Management, NEPS, Túsla, DES and with the local Gardaí (where appropriate).

Staff Liaison –



Briefs staff at the earliest opportunity. Students will be supervised at these times. The facts, as known, will be disclosed to the staff members who will be given an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions. Staff will be briefed on the procedures for identification of vulnerable students. Materials for staff (from critical incident folder) will be provided. Staff will be updated as appropriate.
Student Liaison –



Inform students of the facts of the incident, coordinate information from subject teachers regarding students whom they are concerned about, alert other staff to vulnerable students, provide materials for students from critical incident folder, keep records of students seen by external agencies, organisation and supervision of ‘quiet room’ (Year Heads’ Office to be used with a small group & Social Activity Room if number of students too large)
Parent Liaison –

K.Broderick, Veronica Ross Dowd

Liaise with the family, visits the family with the Principal, may arrange a meeting of parents, manages the ‘consent’ issues in accordance with agreed school policy, ensures that sample letters are typed up and stored on the school system ready for adaptation, sets up S. Moloney’s Office for meeting with parents, maintains a record of parents seen, meets with individual parents, provides appropriate materials for parents (from their critical incident folder).


Office Staff Alert Year Head regarding late arrivals.
  Plan for Return
The Critical Incident Management Team
Team Leader K. Broderick  (Principal)                  
Staff Liaison/Garda Liaison P. Kelliher (Deputy Principal)
Counselling Coordinator M. Kennelly (Career Guidance)
Students’ Liaison A. Prendiville, E. Cosgrave, S. Moloney, N.O’Shea
Parents’ Liaison K. Broderick, Veronica Ross Dowd
Community Liaison K. Broderick
Media Liaison K. Broderick (Principal)
Relevant Year Head As appropriate
Administrator Office Staff
The following staff/agencies may be involved as the CIM team see fit:

Pastoral Care team, Student Liaison officer, NEPS, School Secretary and Caretaker

Other staff members may be asked to be part of the team as deemed appropriate.

Procedures to be followed in the event of a critical incident – Day One:

Principal and Deputy Principal

  1. Gather the facts of the incident (who, what, when, where).
  2. Contact appropriate agencies, if necessary (Emergency services, Health Service Executive, Community Care Services, NEPS, DES, Board of Management, and CEIST.
  3. Convene a meeting of the Critical Incident Management Team (Staff Study).
  4. Debriefing at end of day for Critical Incident Management Team at 4.00 p.m.

Critical Incident Management Team

Full details of the agenda page 20&21 of Responding to Critical Incidents Guidelines for schools.

  1. Agree a statement of facts for staff, students, parents and media.
  2. Inform all staff of incident -Staff communication via short memo which includes detail of staff meeting outside school hours (8:30a.m. Or 12:45p.m. Or 3:45 p.m.)
  3. Delegate responsibilities to the CIMT members.

All Staff

  1. Decide on how, and what facts will be shared with students.  (Signed relevant sheets from pack here)
  2. Inform staff of what outside agencies have been contacted.
  3. All staff share factual information with student population.
  4. Maintain the normal routine as far as possible for classes not immediately affected.

Identify high risk students. Relatives and close friends informed separately.  (Children with SEN, Neighbours, refer to Pastoral Care list).  Late arrivals, children who are absent.

  1. Review the events of the first 24 hours.
  2. Check how everyone is coping.
  3. Katherina Broderick & Padraig Kelliher to hold information meeting with year head.
  4. Arrange support for students, (pg 27 Guidelines) providing a suitable room for this to happen (Year Head room)– subject teacher makes referrals.
  5. It is recommended that school management will endeavour to have a male and female teacher on corridor supervision.
Procedures to be followed in the event of a critical incident – Day Two/Three:

Principal and Deputy Principal

  1. Convene Critical Incident Management Team – staff study – 8.00 am
  2. Convene staff meeting at 8:30 a.m. (Decide who will contact absent staff, a friend of absent staff member to make said contact). Staff agenda will be included in critical incident pack.

Critical Incident Management Team

  1. Review the events of the first 24 hours.
  2. Check how everyone is coping.
  3. Katherina Broderick & Padraig Kelliher to hold information meeting with year head.
  4. Arrange support for students, (pg 27 Guidelines) providing a suitable room for this to happen (Year Head room)– subject teacher makes referrals.
  5. It is recommended that school management will endeavour to have a male and female teacher on corridor supervision.

All Staff

  1. Look for feedback from teachers on vulnerable students (M. Kennelly).
  2. Designated staff member to liaise with family/families involved in incident. In the case of bereavement arrange with the family the school’s involvement in the funeral/memorial service.  (K. Broderick and V. Ross Dowd)
  3. Teachers who are uncomfortable with providing support will not be required to do so. (They request Guidance Counsellor & SPHE Coordinator to arrange )
  4. Seek parental approval for support meetings with outside agencies.
 Follow-up – beyond 72 hours
Monitor students for signs of continuing distress All subject teachers
Liaise with agencies regarding referrals Principal, Deputy Principal, Guidance Counsellor
Plan for return of bereaved student(s)(R13 Guidelines) Principal & Pastoral Care Team & Year Head
Plan for giving of ‘memory box’ to bereaved family Principal, Year Head & Pastoral Care team
Decide on memorials and anniversaries BOM & Pastoral Care Team
Review response to incident and amend plan BOM & CIMT
Plan for the return of absent students and staff

Plan for reintegration of siblings, close relatives, injured students etc., involved in the incident is developed by the Pastoral Care team and the relevant year heads.


Evaluation is a vital part of the process of maintaining a viable critical Incident Strategy. Crisis management can only develop with analysis of past incidents, feedback in the light of past responses and systematic evaluation of all protocols in place.

Issues to be aware of in the light of effective evaluation include:

  • The confidence of the Crisis Management Team in their roles in the event of an incident.
  • Was internal communication effective between staff?
  • Were all staff furnished with accurate facts and kept updated on a consistent basis?
  • Was the overall communication strategy successful?
  • Was information disseminated quickly to avoid speculation and rumour?
  • Was there adequate and effective communication with the family involved?
  • What lessons could be learned from an analysis of this strategy?
  • Was feedback obtained from staff as to whether they felt sufficiently equipped to deal emotionally and physically with the incident?
  • Was there sufficient guidance and support to individual teachers, staff and students?
  • Were students adequately supervised during the Crisis Meeting?
  • Was there sufficient Pastoral Care provided to deal with the incident?
  • Was communication with the media effective?
  • Have all necessary referrals to support services been made?
  • Were external support agencies met with for feedback in the aftermath of the incident?
  • Were all expenses incurred met and dealt with in a timely manner?
  • What amendments need to be made to any further crisis management incidents in the light of the review of this incident?
Emergency Telephone Numbers

Garda                                                                                                 999 or 112

Fire                                                                                                     999 or 112

Ambulance                                                                                        999 or 112

Kerry Ambulance Control Centre                                                 7121866

Tralee Garda Station                                                                       7102300 / 7122022

Tralee General Hospital                                                                  7184000 / 7126222

Tralee General Hospital Acute Unit                                               7184802

Health Service Executive Community Services (HSE South)     7184500



Senior Social Worker/Designated Officer                                  7121566

Kerry Adolescent Counselling                                                            7181333

National Education Psychological Service                                         01-8738600 / 7180671

Eileen Devitt                                                                                       087 9634634

Dept of Social and Family Affairs                                                       7149500

National Education Welfare Board                                                     01-8728600

Dept of Education                                                                               090-6483600



Dr. Anita O’Sullivan                                                                           066  7141055

Dr. Justin Joyce                                                                                 066  7141044

Dr. Pat Daly                                                                                       066  7121288

Dr.  Anne Fleming                                                                             066  7142384


Castleisland                 –                                                                       066  7141204

Tralee                          –                                                                       066  7122022 / 7102300


Castleisland                 –                                                                       066 7141241

Barnardos                                                                                            01-4530355

Barnados Bereavement Counselling for Children                               021-4310591

The Samaritans                                                                                  1850 609090

Childline                                                                                              1800 666666

Parentline                                                                                            1890 927277

Aware                                                                                                  1890 303 302

National Suicide Bereavement Support Network                               024-95561

Rainbows                                                                                            01 4734175

The Bereavement Counselling Service – Dublin                                01-8391766

Bereavement Counselling Service                                                     01-6767727

I.S.P.C.C.                                                                                            01-6794944

Diocesan Advisors

Tomas Kenny                                                                                     064 6632644

Childcare Manager HSE

Oliver Mawe                                                                                      066 7195620

Press office in DES

Sarah Miley                                                                                      087 7020941

State Exams Commission                                                               09064  42700

Inspector for SEC

Sean O’Broin                                                                                  0906 442700

KDYS Castleisland                                                                         066  7142648

Local Primary Schools


Presentation Primary School Ms. Leona Twiss 066  7141147
Scartaglen Primary School Mairead Bean Ui Bhrosnachain 066  7147104
Kilmurry, Cordal Ms. Therese Kearney 066  7142356
Scoil Ide, Curranes Mrs. Cait Nolan 066  7142021
Gael Scoil Mr. Tomas O Connor 066  7142022
Castleisland Boys National School Mr. Denis Griffin 066  7142420
St. Mary’s, Knocknagoshel Ms. Maire Collins 068  46011
Loughfouder Mr. M Herlihy 068  46500
Knockaclaurig 068 44555
Brosna Ms. M. Scanlon 068 44577
Scoil Mhuire & Naomh Treasa Mrs. Margaret Hanifin 066  9764616
Clogher Mrs. Sinead Murphy 066  7137166
Nohoval Mr. M. Bolger 066  7137516
St. Brendan’s N.S. Mr. Sweeney 066  7137448
Flemby, Ballymacelligott Mr. Roche
Firies Ms. Eileen Brosnan 066  9764496
Knockaderry Mrs. Aine Daly 066  9764729
ANABLA  Inchcullane, Kilcummin Mr. Paddy O’Sullivan 064 43233
Appendix 1

Sample Teacher Communication Text Message

Student Death

Dear Staff,

It is with great sorrow that I inform you of the death of one of our student’s ______________________ in class __________, due to a car accident. This is a huge loss for ______________’s family, our school and the community. The School’s Critical Incident Management Team has met to plan our response.


Appendix 2

Sample Teacher Communication Text Message

Teacher Death

Dear Staff

It is with great sorrow that I inform you of the death of one of our teacher’s _____________________due to a car accident. This is a huge loss for______________’s family, our school and the community. The School’s Critical Incident Management Team has met to plan our response.


Appendix 3

Sample Announcement to the Media – Student Death

My name is __________________ and I am the Principal of Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland.  We learned this morning of the death of________________, a __________year student in our school. This is a terrible tragedy for________________’s family, our school and the wider community. We are deeply saddened by these events. Our sympathies, thoughts and prayers are with__________________’s family and friends.

We have been in contact with her parents and they have requested that we respect their need for privacy at this very difficult time. Offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated.  Our school has implemented our Critical Incident Management Plan. Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) are supporting and advising teachers in their efforts to assist our students at this time. The school staff has been helping students to deal with the death. The school has been open to parents and guardians to support them and offer advice and guidance. We would ask you to respect their privacy at this challenging time.

Thank You

Appendix 4

Sample Letter to Parents – Student Death

Dear Parents/Guardian

Over the weekend, the school learned of the sudden death of ______________, one of our students.  We are all deeply saddened by this loss.  The school has support structures in place to deal with this tragedy.

Our Pastoral Care team has been working closely with counsellors from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS). It is possible that your daughter may have feelings that she may like to discuss with you.You can help your daughter by taking time to listen to her and encourage her to express her feelings.

It is important to let her know that her feelings, concerns and reactions are normal and that she will experience a number of emotions over the next few days and weeks. If you have any additional questions or concerns please feel free to contact the school.

I anticipate that the next few days will be difficult for everyone, however school will continue as usual.


Appendix 5

Sample Parent Communication Text -Student Death

Today, with great sadness we learned of the death of _____________________ one of our ___________Year students. Our thoughts and prayers are with_____________’s family and friends during this difficult time. Further communication will follow in due course.


Appendix 6

Sample Community Notice (to be read at Mass)

The community of Castleisland is extremely saddened to hear of the death of________________ who was a ______________ year student in Presentation Secondary School.

I am sure all of us will make every effort to comfort and support _________________’s family as they attempt to come to terms with their traumatic loss. We remember her in our prayers in Mass today and we extend our heartfelt sympathies to her family, relatives, teachers and classmates.

Appendix 7

Sample letter requesting consent for Involvement of outside Professionals

Dear Parent/Guardian

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 the students either in small groups or on a one to one basis, and offering reassurance and advice as appropriate.

Your daughter has been identified as one of the students who would benefit from meeting with (x). If you would not like your daughter to receive this support, please sign the attached 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.



I/We do not wish our daughter meet with ______________________

I/We understand that my daughter may meet x in an individual/group session, depending on the arrangements that are thought most appropriate.

Name of Student:_______________________________

Class: _________________________________________

Date of Birth: ___________________________________