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Critical Incidents


Critical Incidents can happen anywhere, anytime. Acacia Connection provides a best in class service for when these unexpected events occur.

A critical incident is an event, often unexpected, that poses an actual or perceived threat to an employee’s well being that produces a strong emotional response that temporarily overwhelms an employee’s ability to cope.

The most common critical incidents with which employers’ request assistance are:

  • Employee death or disability
  • Suicide attempt
  • Violence in or near the workplace, such as robbery
  • Workplace accidents
  • Redundancies
  • Organisational restructuring

The Initial Call

When calling Acacia Connection you are connected to a professional with critical incident response experience. You are asked questions to evaluate what’s happened, what’s needed immediately and how to respond over the days that follow. Acacia Connection undertakes a comprehensive assessment of the situation and provides ongoing support from the time of call. An option for some crises is on-site assistance for employees and managers. Managers are supported and educated in understanding how to care for their employees in a confidential and thoughtful manner.

Onsite Support

Depending on the type and intensity of the event, the critical incident responder (psychologist or counsellor) may be needed on site within a few hours of the crisis. More commonly, though, scheduling an on-site visit within 24-48 hours of an event is best. Workers may be in shock in the immediate aftermath of a critical event and may not benefit from interacting with a professional right away. And logistically, it may be difficult to gather employees together. Depending on circumstances, the psychologist may stay for several hours, an entire day or sometimes longer.

The Process

The psychologist may conduct group psycho education sessions with employees to review common reactions (emotional and physical responses felt by others who experienced similar events) and discuss coping strategies. One on one support sessions are encouraged as part of Acacia Connection Psychological First Aid (PFA) approach to Critical Incidents. Attendance is encouraged but not mandatory. The goal is to help employees realise that their reactions are understandable, reasonable and likely temporary.

Next Steps

The psychologist onsite will always remind employees of the various services provided by Acacia Connection, including the availability of referrals for individual counselling sessions. They will also encourage leadership to continue to communicate the availability of EAP telephonic or face-to-face counselling afterward, too.

The follow up

Acacia Connection undertakes a 4 week follow up review of all impacted employees to ensure that screening and support for Acute Stress Disorder (2 weeks) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (4 week) is undertaken. Generally the process is ‘same day’, ‘next day’, two week and four week follow up to ensure that your employees are adequately recovering from a critical incident.

For high risk or high potential incident workplaces we can also provide in house training to first responders and leaders in managing traumatic events so you can respond quickly and effectively in situations.

Every incident is different and our experienced team will guide you in managing any incident with confidence, providing the best levels of support based on most recent research and best practice models.

Common Employer Mistakes

Mistake 1: Dismissing the event or not reading the situation

“They are all OK, they don’t need any psychological help”. This is the assessment some managers make following the wake of a Critical Incident. It could be inaccurate. Just because employees appear fine does not mean they are fine. Few managers know how to correctly assess the impact of a critical incident.

Mistake 2: Delaying Response

Waiting several days or weeks in the hope that the situation will improve is a risky option. Contacting EAP is not a sign of poor management skills. Rather it takes true leadership to acknowledge the range of emotional reactions following a critical incident.

Mistake 3: Stifling Communication

It is important to encourage a workplace to discuss their feelings rather then stifle them. They may impact on workplace performance and day-to-day functioning. Employees need to talk about these significant events. They will do so anyway and it is far more constructive to do it with the EAP who can focus on resilience and positive coping strategies.

Mistake 4: Misunderstanding the purpose of a Critical Incident Team

The goal of an onsite psychologist is to support workers to process their emotions positively following a critical incident. Issues such as conflict between 2 employees, poor job performance and sexual harassment claims should all be taken seriously. However they do not meet the criteria for a Critical Incident. The EAP can assist however it would fall under Organisational Development services.

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