Critical Incident Policy
The staff and management of Oatlands College recognise a critical incident to be “an incident or sequence of events that has potential to overwhelm the normal coping mechanism of the school”. Critical incidents may involve one or more students or staff members, or members of our local community. Types of incidents might include:
• The death of a member of the school community through accident, suicide, violence, terminal illness, or other unexpected death
• An intrusion into the school
• An accident involving a member or members of the school community
• An accident/tragedy in the family of a member of the school community or in the wider community.
• Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism, etc.
• The disappearance of a member of the school community.
The aim of the Critical Incident Policy is to help school management and staff to react quickly and effectively in the event of an incident thus enabling the students and staff to cope as effectively as possible with the incident and its consequences.
The creation of a coping, supportive and caring ethos in the school is of paramount importance. The school has put in place many other policies and measures aimed at preparing to cope with a range of life events. These include policies relating to both staff and students’ physical and psychological safety and that of the school community.
The following are examples of measures the school has in place:
• Evacuation plan formulated
• Regular fire drills occur
• Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked
• Laboratories and technical rooms are locked when not in use
• Trained First Aid personnel
• First Aid kits for matches and trips
• Reference to Child Protection guidelines
• Break-time and lunch-time supervision
• Visitors sign in and out at the office reception
• CCTV cameras in operation in school environs
• Active links with local Gardaí and emergency services.
Psychological safety (wellbeing)
The management and staff of Oatlands College 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, to provide opportunities for reflection, and to provide appropriate psychological support in the aftermath of a critical incident.
• Staff are familiar with the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures and details of how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures.
• 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.
• There is a pastoral care system in place in the school.
• Students who are identified as being at risk are referred to the guidance counsellor or support teacher, concerns are explored and the appropriate level of assistance and support is provided. The parents of these students are informed, and where appropriate, a referral is made to an appropriate agency.
And in addition the school has set up the following:
• Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is integrated into the work of the school. It is addressed in the curriculum by addressing issues such as grief and loss; communication skills; stress and anger management; resilience; conflict management; problem-solving; help-seeking; bullying; decision-making; and prevention of alcohol and drug misuse. Promotion of mental health is an integral part of this provision.
• Staff have access to training for their role in SPHE through in-service.
• Books and resources on difficulties affecting the primary/post primary school student are available.
• Information is provided on mental health, in general, and such specific areas as signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
• Staff are informed in the area of suicide awareness and some are trained in interventions for suicidal students.
• The school has developed links with a range of external agencies as listed in the school’s SPHE Policy.
• The school has a clear policy on anti-bullying and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy.
• 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 are selected on a voluntary basis and retain their roles for at least one school year. The members of the team meet annually to review and update the policy and plan and recommend changes, where appropriate. Each member of the team is provided with 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 will be covered as follows:
• Team Leader and team members
• Garda Liaison
• Staff Liaison
• Student Liaison
• Parent Liaison
• Community Liaison
• Media Liaison
Critical Incident Management Plan
When a critical incident occurs the critical incident management plan will be activated by the Principal or the Deputy Principal.
Critical Incident Rooms
In the event of a critical incident,
• Base classrooms will be used for meetings with students.
• The library will be the main room used to meet the parents (or Dining Area in the event of accessibility issues for any parent).
• The Deputy Principal’s office or the back office may be used for contacting the media, if relevant.