Critical Incident Stress Debriefing

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Critical Incident Stress Debriefing

Critical incident stress debriefing is a process which provides help and support for people who have been through a traumatic incident. These incidents can produce extreme emotional stress, and may prevent people from functioning normally after the incident is over.

The goal with critical incident stress debriefing is to help people undergo trauma to return to their normal lives as soon as possible.

What is a Critical Incident?

A Critical Incident is defined as an event which is extraordinary in nature with the expectation of producing significant reactions on the parts of victims or those either directly or indirectly impacted.

Typical Examples include:

  • Line of Duty Deaths (LODD)

  • Serious Line of Duty injuries

  • Suicide

  • Robberies

  • Auto Accidents

  • Severe or Prolonged Illness

  • Sudden Death

  • Natural Disasters

  • Any event that has significant emotional power to overwhelm usual coping mechanisms.

Symptoms of Critical Incident Stress

Critical incidents produce characteristics sets of phychological and physiological reactions or symptoms in all people. Typical symptoms of Critical Incident Stress include:

  • Restlessness

  • Irritability

  • Excessive Fatigue

  • Sleep Disturbance

  • Anxiety

  • Startle Reactions

  • Depression

  • Moodiness

  • Muscle Tremors

  • Difficulties Concentrating

  • Nightmares

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Suspiciousness

Why DRW-CISD Program™?

The DRW-Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Model is enhanced with Emotional Intelligence tools and provides trauma victims with a way of talking through and dealing with the trauma they have encountered in a safe and confidential environment.


  • To provide means for emotional expression by individuals involved in a stressful event

  • To decrease distressing symptoms and prevent onset of PSTD

  • To assimilate the traumatic experience

  • To regain/increase capacity for self-control

  • To reduce the focus of the event in the daily lives of survivors

  • To provide emotional support

  • To dispel myths and reduce self-blame

  • To restore adaptive levels of trust

  • To restore capacity for emotional response

  • To alleviate disabling fears and anxieties caused by the trauma

  • To provide structure and stability

  • To prepare for physical and psychological symptoms that may follow

  • To inform individuals about stress, stress reactions and survival methods

  • To promote appropriate and realistic problem solving

Research on the effectiveness of applied critical incident debriefing techniques has demonstrated that individuals who are provided CISD within a 24-72 hour period after the initial critical incident experience less short-term and long-term crisis reactions or psychological trauma.


The goal of debriefing is to help normal people deal with abnormal situations.

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