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Critical Incident Stress Management

What is a critical incident?

A Traumatic Event (Critical Incident) is any incident that causes unusually strong emotional reactions which have the potential to interfere with one's ability to function. These events are usually outside the range of ordinary human experience.

Anyone exposed, directly or indirectly, to a traumatic event may experience an intense stress reaction. Health care, emergency personnel and disaster relief workers are particularly vulnerable to critical incident stress by virtue of the nature of their work and personalities. Even though the event is over, the individual may experience some strong emotional or physical reactions.


It is very common and normal for people to experience emotional aftershocks when they have passed through a traumatic event.

Sometimes the emotional aftershocks or stress reactions appear immediately after the traumatic event. Sometimes they may appear a few hours or a few days later. In some cases, weeks or months may pass before stress reactions occur.

The signs and symptoms of stress reactions may also last from a few days to a few months, or longer depending upon the severity of the event.

Sometimes the traumatic event is so painful that professional assistance from a counsellor may be beneficial. This does not imply weakness but simply indicates that the particular event was just too powerful for the person to manage alone. Stress from a critical incident cannot be prevented, it is the result of exposure to trauma, but it can be managed. 

Goals of critical incident stress management

  • Lessen the impact on personnel exposed to traumatic incidents. 

  • Accelerate recovery from those events before harmful stress reactions interfere with everyday functioning. 

  • Provide information about Critical Incident Stress and stress reactions that personnel can use to help themselves and colleagues. 

  • Offer personnel options for dealing with Critical Incident Stress.

What we offer

Elgin Counselling & Mediation Centre provides a team of mental health professionals specifically trained and experienced in dealing with traumatic stress and post traumatic stress.


Our team provides five levels of response: 

  • Stress and Traumatic Stress Education

  • On-scene Support

  • Post event Debriefings 

  • Individual Counselling 

  • Follow-up support for individuals and their families


Critical Incident Stress Management is included in our Employee Assistance Program. Companies not on our EAP are invited to inquire about CISM services.

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