Loyola University Maryland

Counseling Center

Critical Incident (Campus Crisis) Response Services

A critical incident is "An event that overwhelms a person's usual coping mechanisms"(Mitchell, 1999).

Examples of critical incidents on a college campus 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.

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 Loyola University Maryland Counseling Center and Student Development administrators.

Types of Critical Incident Response

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-on-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 Loyola community and are designed to respect the privacy of those involved. 

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.

Types of Critical Incident Response

Physical

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Headaches

Thoughts

  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Blaming others
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suspiciousness
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Poor attention

Emotional

  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Guilt
  • Denial
  • Anxiety/Panic
  • Anger
  • Depression

Behavioral

  • Withdrawal
  • Inability to rest/sleep
  • Change in appetite
  • Increased alcohol & drug use
  • Intensified pacing
  • Change in speech patterns
  • Antisocial acts

How to 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.

Return to Emergency Services Resources

*This page has been adapted from the Grand Valley State University CISD webpage, July 2018