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Critical Incidents

Critical Incidents and Trauma Response

Schools today are faced with a wide variety of cultural, emotional and intellectual differences. Day-to-day experiences often present challenges, however, our staff is trained and prepared to respond to daily situations as well as crisis incidents that may affect the entire campus. Crisis intervention in the schools is a collaborative team effort. Our personnel are prepared to deal with crises ranging from suicidal students to the death of a student or staff member. 

What is a crisis?

A crisis is an event that is highly unpredictable and extraordinary in its makeup. However, the way individuals behave in a traumatic situation is very predictable and consistent. Being aware and having an understanding of how people will react during an event makes it possible to take action that can assist and defuse those reactions. Proper and appropriate action will prevent a secondary, potentially more severe traumatic event.

Trauma Response Team

Certain steps of crisis management are used in most situations to reduce chaos following the crises.  Some steps are carried out simultaneously, others fall into sequence.  Each school has its own crises plan that is designed to fit the needs of the crisis.  The Trauma Response Team functions as part of the School’s Crisis Action Team in order to return the school to its normal stability, and to help the students and faculty deal with the emotional impact.  Coordination and communication are key components in order to assure that all those who need help are offered crisis intervention services.

Crisis Intervention

The primary objective of crisis intervention in schools is to replace self-defeating behaviors and maladaptive thoughts and feelings with appropriate and effective coping skills and adaptive thoughts and feelings (Steele and Raider, 1991).   

In order to do this, the Trauma Response Team asssists students and their families to: (a) realize that crises are a normal part of life, (b) gain perspective on the precipitating event and the current situation, (c) recognize and accept the feelings associated with the crisis, and (d) learn new problem-solving skills (Muro and Kottman, 1995).

Crisis and Trauma Response Documents

Children and Change
Helping Children Cope with Grief
Helping Children Deal with Death
Kids and Funeral Services
Signs of Childrens Stress
Some Differences Between Grief and Trauma
Suggested Readings
Taking Care of Yourself
Talking with Children About Death
My Brave Book  

Crisis and Trauma Resources

American School Counselor Association
International Critical Incident Stress Foundation
National Association of School Psychologists
Helping Parents Cope With Disaster 
Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers  

Internal Documents

FWISD Intranet Documents


Ashli Abernathy
Director, Student Wellbeing