Laragh 2 (Muff) N.S.

What is a Critical Incident?

“A critical incident is any incident or sequence of events which overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school and disrupts the running of the school”



°           Death, major illness/outbreak of disease

°           Criminal incidents

°           Major accidents, serious injury

°           Suicide

°           Civil unrest, war

°           Fire, natural and technological disaster

°           Disappearance of student from home or school

°           Unauthorised removal of student from school or home.


Critical Incidents Management Team:

  • Leadership Role: Principal
  • Communication Role: Ann Farrelly
  • Student Liaison/ Counselling Role: Bereavement Counselling Group in Kingscourt
  • Chaplaincy Role: Fr. Gerry McCormack
  • Family Liaison Role: Maria Carolan and class teacher
  • Parents Association Rep: Sharon Shiels
  • B.O.M. Rep: Ciara Walsh
  • N.E.P.S: Philip Clarke





Roles and Responsibilities

Leadership Role:


  • Confirm the event
  • Activate the C.I. response team
  • Express sympathy to family
  • Clarify facts surrounding event
  • Make contact with other relevant agencies
  • Decide how news will be communicated to different groups (staff, pupils, outside school)






  • Ensure provision of ongoing support to staff and students
  • Facilitate any appropriate memorial events
  • Review Plan

Communication Role:


  • With Team prepare a public statement.
  • Organise designated room to address media promptly
  • Ensure telephone line free for outgoing and important incoming calls
  • Liaison with relevant outside support agencies


  • Review and evaluate effectiveness of communication response

Student Liaison/ Counseling Role:


  • Outline specific services available in school
  • Put in place clear referral procedures
  • Address immediate needs of staff
  • Information
  • Counselling


  • Ongoing support to vulnerable students
  • Monitor class most affected
  • Refer on, as appropriate
  • Review and evaluate Plan

Chaplaincy Role:


  • Visit home, if appropriate
  • Assist with prayer services
  • Make contact with local clergy
  • Be available as personal and spiritual support to staff


  • Provide follow-up support to family in conjunction with Home School Community Liaison
  • Work in partnership with religious education team
  • Review and Evaluate Plan

Family Liaison Role:


  • Coordinate contact with families (following first contact by principal)
  • Consult with family around involvement of school in e.g. funeral service
  • Assist with all communication dealing with parents of any student affected by critical incident


  • Provide ongoing support to bereaved family
  • Involve as appropriate family in school liturgies/memorial services.
  • Offer to link family with community support groups
  • Review and evaluate plan.
Action plan


  • Immediate contact with family/families.
  • Consult with the family regarding appropriate support from the school, e.g. funeral service.
  • Ensure that a quiet place can be made for students/staff.
  • Rooms will made be made available as follows:
  • Prayer room: GP Room
  • Individual Meetings: Staff Room/Office
  • Parents: LS room

Media Briefing

  • Designate a spokesperson. (Leader)
  • Prepare a brief statement. (Team)
  • Protect the family’s privacy.
  • Gather accurate information
  • It is important to obtain accurate information about the incident.
  1. What happened, where and when?
  2. What is the extent of the injuries?
  3. How many are involved and what are their names?
  4. Is there a risk of further injury?
  5. What agencies have been contacted already?
  6. Emergency services
  7. Medical services
  8. H.S.E. Psychology Departments/Community Care Services
  9. NEPS
  10. BOM
  11. DES/Schools Inspector.
  12. Convene a meeting with Key Staff/Critical Management Team Organize a staff meeting, if appropriate.
  13. Organize timetable/routine for the day. (Adhering to the normal school routine is important, if this is possible).
  14. Class teachers to take note of any absentees who might need to be contacted, list of friends etc, or any other relevant information and give to the Student Liaison person.
  15. Arrange supervision of students
  16. The Chaplain/ Principal will liaise with the family, to extend sympathy and clarify the family’s wishes regarding the school’s involvement in funeral/memoriaI service.
  17. Arrange a home visit by two staff representatives within 24 hours, if appropriate. (Student Liaison person + Class teacher)
  18. Have regard for different religious traditions and faiths.
  19. Reconvene Key Staff/Critical Incident Management Team.
  20. Decide arrangements for support meetings for parents/students/staff.
  21. Decide on mechanism for feedback from teachers on vulnerable students.
  22. Have review Critical Incident Management Team meeting.
  23. Establish contact with absent staff and pupils.
  • Contact appropriate agencies
  • Liaise with the family regarding funeral arrangements/memorial service.


  • Preparation of students/staff attending funeral.
  • Involvement of students/staff in liturgy if agreed by bereaved family.
  • Facilitation of students’/staffs’ responses, eg. Sympathy cards, flowers, book of condolences, etc.
  • Review the events of the first 24 hours
  • Arrange support for individual students, groups of students, and parents, if necessary.
  1. Hold support/information meeting for parents/students, if necessary, in order to clarify what has happened.
  2. Give any teacher who feels uncomfortable with involvement in support meetings the choice of opting out.
  3. Arrange, in consultation, with outside agencies, individual or group debriefings or support meetings with parental permission. Permission slips to be included in enrolment forms.
  • Plan for the re-integration of students and staff e.g. absentees, injured, siblings, close relative etc)
  1. Student Liaison person to liaise with above on their return to school.
  2. Plan visits to injured
  3. Family Liaison person + Class Teacher + Principal to visit home/hospital.
  4. Attendance and participation at funeral/memorial service (To be decided)
  5. Decide this in accordance with parents’ wishes and school management decisions and in consultation with close school friends.
  6. School closure
  7. Request a decision on this from school management.


  • Monitor students for signs of continuing distress.
  • If, over a prolonged period of time, a student continues to display the following, he/she may need assistance from the Health Board.
  1. Uncharacteristic behaviour
  2. Deterioration in academic performance
  3. Physical symptoms — e.g. weight loss/gain, lack of attention to appearance, tiredness, restlessness
  4. Inappropriate emotional reactions
  5. Increased absenteeism.
  • Evaluate response to incident and amend Critical lncident Management Plan appropriately.
  1. What went well?
  2. Where were the gaps?
  3. What was most/least helpful?
  4. Have all necessary onward referrals to support services been made?
  5. Is there any unfinished business?
  • Formalise the Critical Incident Plan for the future
  1. Consult with NEPS Psychologist
  • Inform new staff/new school pupils affected by Critical Incidents where appropriate
  1. Ensure that new staff is aware of the school policy and procedures in this area.
  2. Ensure they are aware of which pupils were affected in any recent incident and in what way.
  3. When individual pupils or a class of pupils affected by an incident are transferring to a new school, it would be useful to brief the Principal of the new school.
  • Decide on appropriate ways to deal with anniversaries (Be sensitive to special days and events)
  1. Anniversaries may trigger emotional responses in students/staff and they may need additional support at this time.
  2. Acknowledge the anniversary with the family
  3. Be sensitive to significant days like Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.
  • Plan a school memorial service.
  • Care of deceased person’s possessions. What are the parent’s wishes?
  • Update and amend school records.










Emergency Contact List:


Critical Incident Management Team:

Aonghus Byrne

Ann Farrelly

Maria Carolan


NEPS Office – 0761 075200

Philip Clarke(NEPS)

Garda 999; 042 9667292

Fire Brigade 999; 112

GP Dr. McMahon – 042 – 9667487

HSE – Cavan Centre – 049  4361822

School Inspector (T McSorley)

DES, Communications Unit Marlborough Street – 01 8896400

Clergy, Pastoral Care, Fr. Gerry McCormack – 042 – 9667314

Local Counselling Service – 042-9667186

Chairperson BOM

  • Texts to contact other staff
  • Pupil contact lists in confidential files
  • Teacher contact lists in office
  • Policy subject to review annually


Sample Letters


Dear Parents,


The school has experienced (the sudden death, accidental injury) of one of our students. We are deeply saddened by the death/events.


(brief details of the incident and in the event of a death, perhaps some positive remembrances of the person lost)


We have support structures in place to help your child cope with this tragedy. (Elaborate)


It is possible that your child may have some feelings that he/she may like to discuss with you. You can help your child by taking time to listen and encouraging them to express their feelings. It is important to give them truthful information that is appropriate to their age.


If you would like advice or assistance you may contact the following people at the school (Details)

Yours sincerely


Aonghus Byrne






Dear Parents,


Following the recent (tragedy, death of X) we have arranged professional support for students in school who need particular help. (X) is available to help with this work. This support will usually consist of talking to children, either in small groups or on a one to one basis and offering reassurance and advice as appropriate.


We feel that ________ may benefit from meeting with the psychologist. If you would like your child to receive this support, please sign the attached permission slip and return it to the school by ______________


If you would like further information on the above or to talk to ___________, School Counsellor, please indicate this on the slip or telephone the school.


Yours sincerely,


Aonghus Byrne


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


I/We consent to having our daughter/son met by ____________ employed by the Minister for Education and Skills.

I/We understand that my daughter/son may meet the counsellor in an individual or group session depending on the arrangements which are thought to be most appropriate.


Name of student: ___________________


Class: ____________________


Date of Birth: ___________________


I would like my daughter/son to avail of the support being offered by the Counsellor.


Signed: _________________________ Parent/Guardian