Critical Incident Policy

Dalkey School Project N.S. aims to protect the well being of its students and staff by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times.

The Board of Management, through Miriam Hurley (Principal) has drawn up a critical incident management plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans.

Our aim is to establish a Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) to steer the development and implementation of the plan.

The staff and management of Dalkey School Project N.S. recognise a critical incident to be

an incident or sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school.

Critical incidents may involve one or more students or staff members, or members of our local community eg.

  • The death of a member of the school community through accident,violence or other unexpected death.
  • An accident involving members of the school community.
  • An accident /tragedy in the wider community.
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire flood, vandalism etc.
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community.

Aim

The aim of the CIMP is to help school management and staff to react quickly and effectively in the event of an incident, to enable us to maintain a sense of control and to ensure that appropriate support is offered to students and staff.  Having a good plan should also help ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited.  It should enable us to effect a return to normality as soon as possible.

Creation of a coping and caring ethos in school

We have put systems in place to help to build resilience in both staff and students, thus preparing them to cope with a range of life events.  These include measures to address both the physical and psychological safety of the school community.

Physical safety

  • Evacuation plan formulated and fire drills are carried out at least one a term.
  • Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked.
  • Rules of the playground are strictly adhered to.
  • Visitors are advised to report firstly to the school office.
  • Please refer to the school policy on Health and Safety for further details.

Psychological Safety

  • The management and staff of DSPNS aim to use available programmes and resources to address the personal and social development of students, to enhance a sense of safety and security in the school and to provide opportunities  for reflection and discussion.
  • Social,  Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is integrated into the work of the school.  It is addressed in the curriculum by dealing with issues such as grief and loss, communication skills, stress and anger management, resilience, conflict management, problem solving, bullying, decision making and prevention of alcohol and drug misuse.  Promotion of mental health is an integral part of this provision.
  • Staff are familiar with the child protection guidelines and procedures and details of how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures.
  • Books and resources on difficulties affecting the primary school student are available.
  • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies eg. Carmona Services, HSE, NEPS, Lucena Services.
  • Inputs to students by external providers are carefully considered in the light of criteria about student safety, the appropriateness of the content and the expertise of the providers.
  • The school has a clear policy on bullying and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy.
  • Students who are identified as being at risk are monitored by the principal and class teacher, concerns are explored and the appropriate level of assistance and support is provided.  Parents are informed and where appropriate, a referral is made to an appropriate agency.
  • Staff are informed about how to access support for themselves.

Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT)

A CIMT has been established in line with best practice  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 annually to review and update the policy and plan.  Each member of the team has a dedicated critical incident folder.  This contains a copy of the policy and plan and materials particular to their role, to be used in the event of an incident.

The key roles are as follows:

Team Leader – M. Hurley (Principal)

In the absence of M. Hurley – A. Beary will take the lead.

Garda Liaison – M. Hurley

Staff Liaison – N. Malin 

Student Liaison – S. Fitzsimons (co-ordinating with class teacher)

Parent Liaison – A. Beary & A. Andrews

Community Liaison – C. Robinson

Media Liaison – T. Flynn

Administrater – M. D’Arcy/A. Andrews

Outlined below are some points on the key responsibilities of each role.  

Team Leader – M. Hurley

  • Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting.  If necessary calls a staff meeting.
  • Co-ordinates the tasks of the team.
  • Liaises with the Board of Management, DES; NEPS.
  • Liaises with the bereaved family.

Garda Liaison – M. Hurley

  • Liaises with the Gardaí
  • Ensures that information about deaths or other developments is checked out for accuracy before being shared.

Staff Liaison – N. Malin

  • Leads briefing meetings for staff on the facts as known, gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions, outlines the routine for the day.
  • Advises staff on the procedures for identification of vulnerable student.
  • Provides materials for staff (from their critical incident folder).
  • Keeps staff updated as the day progresses.
  • Is alert to vulnerable staff members and makes contact with them individually.
  • Advises them of the availability of the Employee Assistance Service and gives them the contact number.

Student Liaison – S. Fitzsimons co-ordinates with class teachers.

  • Alerts other staff to vulnerable students (appropriately).
  • Provides materials for students (from their critical incident folder)
  • Keeps records of students seen by external agency staff.
  • Looks after setting up and supervision of ‘quiet room’ where agreed.

Community/Agency Liaison – C. Robinson

  • Maintains up to date lists of contact numbers of – key parents, such as members of the PTA – Emergency support services and other external contacts and resources.
  • Liaises with agencies in the community for support and onward referral.
  • Is alert to the need to check credentials of individuals offering support.
  • Co-ordinates the involvement of these agencies.
  • Reminds agency staff to wear name badges.
  • Updates team members on the involvement of external agencies.

Parent liaison – A. Beary/A. Andrews

  • Visits the bereaved family with the team leader.
  • Arranges parent meetings, if held.
  • May facilitate such meetings, and manage ‘questions and answers’.
  • Manages the ‘consent’ issues in accordance with agreed school policy.
  • Ensures that sample letters are typed up, on the school’s system and ready for adaptation.
  • Sets up room for meetings with parents.
  • Maintains a record of parents seen,
  • Meets with individual parents.
  • Provides appropriate materials for parents (from their critical incident folder)

Media Liaison – T. Flynn

  • In advance of an incident, will consider issues that may arise and how they might be responded to (eg students being interviewed, photographers on the premises, etc)
  • In the event of an incident, will liaise where necessary with the relevant teacher unions etc.
  • Will draw up a press statement, give media briefings and interviews (as agreed by school management)

Administrator – M. D’Arcy/A. Andrew

  • Maintenance of up to date telephone numbers of
  1. Parents or guardians
  2. Teachers
  3. Emergency services
  • Takes telephone calls and notes those that need to be responded to.
  • Ensures that templates are on the schools system in advance and ready for adaptation.
  • Prepares and sends out letters, emails and faxes.
  • photocopies materials needed.
  • Maintains records.

Record keeping

  • In the event of an incident each member of the team will keep records of phone calls made and received, letters sent and received, meetings held, persons met, interventions used, materials used etc.
  • G. Hudson (school secretary) will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls sending letters, photocopying materials, etc.

Confidentiality and good name consideration

The Management and staff of DSPNS have a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of the people involved in any incident and will be sensitive to the consequences of any public statements.  The members of the school staff will bear this in mind, and will seek to ensure that students do so also.  For instance, the term ‘suicide’ will not be used unless there is solid information that death was due to suicide, and that the family involved consents to its use.  The phrases ‘tragic death’ or sudden death’ will be used instead.  Similarly, the word ‘murder’ should not be used until it is legally established that a murder was committed.  The term ‘violent death’ will be used instead.

Consultation and communication regarding the plan

All staff were consulted and their views canvassed in the preparation of this policy and plan.

Our school’s final policy and plan in relation to responding to critical incidents has been presented to all staff.

Each member of the critical incident team has a personal copy of the plan.

All new and temporary staff will be informed of the details of the plan by N. Malin.

The plan will be updated annually.

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