Critical Incident Policy
St. Mary’s aims to protect the wellbeing of its students by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times.
St. Mary’s N.S seeks to provide a safe and secure environment at all times. The school has formulated a number of policies e.g. Anti-Bullying Policy, Code of Behaviour and Procedures e.g. School Rules to be followed with a view to ensuring the physical and psychological safety of staff and students.
What is a Critical Incident?
St. Mary’s N.S. recognises a critical incident to be an incident or sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school and disrupts the running of the school. Critical Incidents may involve one or more pupils, staff, the school, or our local community. Types of incidents might include:
- The death of a member of the school community through sudden death, accident, terminal illness or suicide.
- An intrusion into the school which has an adverse impact on school community.
- An accident/tragedy in the wider school community.
- Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism etc.
- The disappearance of a member of the school community.
- An accident involving members of the school community.
- A physical attack on staff member(s) or student(s).
- An accident or tragedy outside the school community which impacts on school community.
Recognising that the key of managing critical incidents is planning, St. Mary’s N.S. Has developed this Critical Incident Management Policy and accompanying Plan. Our hope is that, in the event of an incident, these will help staff to react quickly and effectively and to maintain a sense of control. They should also help us to achieve a return to normality as soon as possible and ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited.
Creation of a Coping Supportive and Caring Ethos in the School.
We have put a system in place to lessen the probability of the occurrence of an incident. These include measures to address both physical and psychological safety of both staff and students.
These are dealt with under our Health & Safety Policy, Code of Behaviour and Anti-Bullying Policy.
Children are supervised at all times during breaks and also for 10 minutes before school opens.
St. Mary’s N.S. aims to create an open and encouraging environment in the school where students can talk about their difficulties and seek help for them.
- SPHE programmes are included in the curriculum to address issues such as grief and loss, communication skills, stress and anger management, conflict management, problem solving, help-seeking, decision making and alcohol and drug prevention.
- Mary’s N.S. has an Anti-Bullying policy.
- Staff are informed on a need to know basis of difficulties affecting individual students and are aware and vigilant to their needs, respecting individual privacy.
- Staff have access to books and resources on difficulties affecting the primary school child.
- The school has developed links with outside agencies, including NEPS, Child and Family Services. They may be contacted in the event of an emergency and for onward referral of students.
Critical Incident Management Team
St. Mary’s N.S. has set up a Critical Incident Management Team in line with best practice and will maintain this team in future. 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 once a year to review and update the plan. Each member of the team has a “Ready-to-Go-Pack” with relevant materials to be used in the event of an incidents.
Key Roles have been identified and assigned as follows:
- Team Leader – Maria Nowlan – Principal
- Staff Liason – Annmarie Doherty – Deputy Principal
- Parent Liason – Chairperson – Parents Association
- Community Liason – Renelle Smout – B.O.M. Member
- Media Liason – Shane McFadden – Chairperson – B.O.M.
In the event of a critical incident the responsibilities of each role-holder will be as follows:-
Team Leader – Maria Nowlan
- Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting
- Co-ordinates the tasks of the team
- Liaises with the Board of Management
- Liaises with the bereaved/affected family.
Staff Liaison – Annmarie Doherty – Deputy Principal
- Leads Meetings to brief Staff on the facts as known, gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and outlines the routine of the day.
- Advises staff on the identification of vulnerable students
- Is alert to vulnerable staff members and makes contact with them individually.
- Provides materials to staff from “Ready-to-Go-Pack”
Community Liaison – Renelle Smout – B.O.O. Member
- Liaises with agencies in the community for support and onward referral
- Up-dates team members on the involvement of external agencies
- Co-ordinates the involvement of these agencies
- 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
Parent Liaison – Chairperson – Parents’ Association
- Facilitates ‘questions and answers’ meetings.
- Meets with individual parents
- Provides materials for parents from the Ready to Go Pack
- Visits the bereaved family with the team leader.
Media Liaison – Shane Mc Fadden – Chairperson of B.O.M.
In preparing for the role, she/he will consider issues that may arise during the incident and how they might be responded to (e.g. students being interviewed, photographers on premises etc.)
In the event of an incident, will liaise where necessary with the Communications Section in the DES.
- Maintenance of up to date lists of contact numbers – Parents often don’t inform the school when they change address or phone numbers. From now on any note that goes out will always ask for change of address or phone number.
- In the case of a critical incident, Secretary might be called in over holidays.
- Emergency Support Services to be displayed in Office and Staff Room.
Hardbacked A4 Book for each Team Member to keep records. In the event of an incident, each member of the team will keep detailed records of phone calls made and records of phone calls made and received, meetings held, persons met, interventions used, material used etc. The school secretary will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls, sending letters, photocopying materials etc.
A letter will be sent to parents based on the sample one attached and will include:
- The sympathy of the School Community.
- Positive information or comments about the deceased/injured person(s)
- The facts of the incident
- What has been done
- What is going to be done
Confidentiality and good name considerations
The school has a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of the people involved in any incident and will to be sensitive to the consequences of any public statements. The members of the school staff will bear this in mind and will see to ensure that pupils to do also.
Critical Incident Room
In the event of a critical incident, the Meeting Room will be the main room used to meet the staff, students, parents and visitors involved – Subject to change.
Development and Communication of this Policy and Plan.
All staff were consulted and their view canvassed in the preparation of this policy. Parent representatives were also consulted and asked for their comments. Our school’s final policy and procedures in relation to responding to critical incidents has been presented to all staff.
Each member of the Critical Incident Team has a personal copy.
It was ratified by the Board of Management on_________________________
and will be implemented from___________________________
It will be reviewed on a yearly basis.