Sometimes schools are faced with having to deal with devastating events which occur on or near the school premises and which involve or are witnessed by pupils or staff. Such events, often occurring outside our normal life experiences are referred to as "critical incidents".
So what is a critical incident?
A critical incident can be defined as an event that is outside the range of everyday events, for example, the unexpected death of a child/young person or a member of staff. A near-death experience, serious accident or sad event for pupils or staff could also fall into this definition. Such incidents are likely to leave staff and pupils shocked, distressed and traumatised. It is helpful in these instances to be prepared with an effective response protocol and to be aware of the Local Authority support which is available and how to access such assistance.
The School Emergency Response Guide includes guidance and information which you may find useful in these circumstances.
The Role of the Children and Young People's Service
Remember, if an emergency does occur, you are not alone. Staff within the Children and Young People's Service and elsewhere in the County Council have a lot of experience in managing emergencies and providing support. We have on-call arrangements, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to help you should you need it.
What do we do?
Our role is to support the Headteacher and staff of any North Yorkshire school or setting in the event of a critical incident, when invited to do so by the Headteacher/Manager.
What kind of help can we give?
We will try to:
- help school/setting staff deal with the initial shock of crisis situations
- support Senior Management Team with the re-establishment of normal routines
- help identify vulnerable individuals - staff and pupils
- provide information about other support services and suggest appropriate resources
- provide time-limited support to the organisation or to individuals within it
- provide information on loss and bereavement that is appropriate to age and stage of development
How can you contact us?
In the event of a crisis or emergency situation being reported to the Corporate Director - Children and Young People's Service, support from the Incident Support Team will be offered if it is felt that this is required. In fthe first instance:
Telephone 01609 532234
What happens next?
Support Coordinators from the Education Psychology Service may speak to you in the first instance. They are available on the telephone to discuss relevant issues with Headteachers/Managers. The roles and responsibilities of the team and of the school/setting will be discussed with you prior to any involvement. If required, they will then contact other members of the Team who will offer support as required.
Who are the other members of the team?
Other members of the Team include Educational Psychologists, Early Help workers and other colleagues with a background in support and counselling. Help is also available from colleagues in the CYPS Health and Safety Risk Management Service and other parts of the County Council such as the Communications Unit, Emergency Planning and the Major Incident Response Team.
What action should I take in the event of a critical incident in school?
Step 1 - assess the situation.
Step 2 - ensure that staff and pupils are not in imminent danger.
Step 3 - call for support:
- Dial 999, if appropriate
- During office hours call the NYCC Children and Young People's Service on:01609 532234 to inform them of the situation and request help, if required. You can leave a voicemail message if the line is engaged and a colleague will return your call as soon as possible.
Out of office hours
- call the NYCC Emergency Planning Unit on the Confidential number (which can be found in the secure area of this website). Inform them of the situation and request help, if required. They will contact the on-call Assistant Director from the Children and Young People's Service
These numbers should only be used in an emergency. Do not give them to the press, parents or members of the public.
Step 4 - ensure that you
- Log all communications and actions.
- Assemble the School Emergency Management Team from pre-identified staff (see Part 1) and relieve them of their normal duties.
- Refer to the list of emergency contact numbers in appendix 20 of the School Emergency Response Guide for additional support, if required.
- Where possible, avoid closing the school and try to maintain normal routines.