Critical Incident Response Services


A Critical Incident can be defined as
"An event that overwhelms a person's usual coping mechanisms"
(Mitchell, 1999).



Examples of critical incidents on a college campus can include:

  • Death of a student or faculty member
  • Sexual assaults
  • Alcohol or other drug overdoses
  • Suicides
  • Car accidents
  • Hate crimes
  • Acts of violence
  • National or local tragedies


Responding quickly and in an appropriate manner can make the difference between healing and long-term psychological distress. Critical Incident Stress Management is a proven, chosen, and recommended method of crisis intervention that can provide services at a variety of levels following a crisis.

Each type of service can meet the different needs of a group or an individual. Our staff will consult with you to assess your needs and determine what services would best benefit your situation.
 



The Critical Incident Response Team

All members of our Critical Incident Response Team are trained at the Basic Group Crisis Intervention Level or higher in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). (Standards developed by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.)

The team consists of the clinical staff from the GVSU University Counseling Center, COT staff, students, and faculty.

Pre-Crisis Planning
What to "expect" in the event of a traumatic incident and education about stress and trauma response.

Demobilization
A large group (up to 300 people) crisis intervention, similar to a "town meeting." It is ideal for responding to school crisis events, community violence, mass disasters, and acts of terrorism. It can also provide pertinent information about how to take care of oneself after a crisis event.

Defusings
A structured small discussion that lasts about 45 minutes. It is typically done within hours or a few days of a crisis and helps to reduce acute symptoms.

Debriefings
A structured group discussion usually 1-14 days after a crisis. This group is designed to assist in bringing about psychological closure and further access to higher level of support when needed.

One-to-one Crisis Counseling
Focused and brief contact with a crisis counselor to help provide initial support.

Note: all services are provided free of charge to the GVSU community and are designed to respect the confidentiality of those involved.
 



A Crisis Happened! Now What?

The GVSU Critical Incident Response Team is ready to assist you, your staff, your residence hall, you department or your fraternity, sorority, or other student organization. Whether it is one-to-one crisis counseling or small group interventions, our team will consult with you to help plan what is best for your students and staff. For more information about our services contact the GVSU University Counseling Center at (616) 331-3266 or gvcounsl@gvsu.edu.
 



If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic or stressful event . . .

It is very common, in fact quite normal, for people to experience aftershocks when they have been exposed to a traumatic event. Even though the event itself may be over, many people experience some strong emotional or physical reactions afterwards.


Common signs and signals of a stress reaction:

PHYSICAL THOUGHTS EMOTIONAL BEHAVIORAL
Thirst Confusion Fear Withdrawal
Fatigue Nightmares Grief Inability to rest / sleep
Chills Blaming others Guilt Change in appetite
Vomiting Difficulty concentrating Denial Increased alcohol and drug use
Chest pain Suspiciousness Anxiety / Panic Intensified pacing
Weakness Hypervigilance Anger Change in speech patterns
Headaches Poor attention Depression Antisocial acts

 



Things you can do to help reduce the impact of crisis related stress in yourself or others:
 

  • Within the first 24 hours, periods of strenuous physical exercise alternated with relaxation will alleviate some of the physical reactions.
  • Keep busy and structure your time.
  • Keep your schedule as normal as possible.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat well-balanced and healthy meals (even if you don't feel like it).
  • Spend time with people who are supportive to you and talk to them.
  • Give yourself permission to feel rotten and share your feelings with others.
  • Don't make major life changes or decisions.
  • Keep a journal; write your way through those sleepless nights.
  • Consider your reactions to be normal.
  • Avoid alcohol, drug or caffeine use.
  • Do things that feel good to you and are good for you.
  • Reach out - people do care.