Critical Incident Training

I haven’t blogged in a couple of days. I haven’t wanted to. Life is busy. Being a dad is a demanding job, being a husband is a demanding role, and being a full time youth minister/part-time graduate student is rough on a guy, and trying to go to the gym five days a week takes its toll.


I got to sit in on some Critical Incident Training for our area, and for our congregation.  I ask a question, does your congregation have an emergency plan for a crisis situation? I hate to even have to ask that question, but we live in a very different world after 9-11. I don’t just think it was 9-11 that has changed us, but with the church shootings in Colorado not long ago, I have been thinking…what would our congregation do, how would we respond, what plans do we have in place? We don’t have a plan, as many churches probably don’t. Well, the time to have a plan in case of trauma situation is now. I would encourage you to look into the Critical Incident Training offered by the Churches of Christ Critical Incident Network. This can be a great ministry and outreach for any congregation, and it’s one of those ministries, that I wish we didn’t need. But it is an extension of the Great Commission.

The following comes from the Critical Incident Network webpage:

I. Why should our congregation have a Critical Incident Response Team?

A Critical Incident Response Team is just a tool, but that tool thrusts our congregations headlong into our communities. It allows us to meet the needs of individuals that we might never otherwise have the opportunity to serve. As we look back on the ministry of Jesus, there are scores of examples of him meeting the needs of the masses as a way of building his credibility as the Son of God. Jesus realized the need to meet people where they are, in order to bring them to where they need to be. It has long been understood that there are certain times in a person’s life when they are more likely to make major changes than at any other time. One of those times is when they have just experienced a traumatic event.

The purpose of a Critical Incident Response Team is to put the Church of Christ in a “ready” position, so that when a need arises in the local communities in which each church resides, the community will look to us first for the answers. By providing those answers, we put ourselves in the position to answer the question that they have not yet asked. That question is:  What must I do to be saved?


II. What does a Critical Incident Response Team Do?

A Critical Incident Response Team is a team that has specialized training, which enables them to respond to incidents that have traumatized inviduals or groups, either directly or indirectly.


III. What is a traumatic event?

Any event that is outside the realm of usual human experience that is markedly distressing or causes disruption to the functioning of those involved. It usually involves perceived or actual threat to one’s physical integrity or the integrity of someone in close proximity. It could be anything from a fatal traffic accident, a suicide, a homicide, a tornado, or flood. It could even be a school shooting or a terrorist attack.


IV. What is Critical Incident Debriefing? 

A process whose only purpose is to systematically lessen the long-term impact of the trauma and to reduce the chances that those affected will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It is not therapy nor does it take the place of therapy. Critical Incident Debriefing is a system that was employed in the days following the Oklahoma City Bombing and 9-11 incidents.  Subsequent research proved that in both of these events, Critical Incident Debriefing successfully mitigated the long-term effects of trauma on those persons directly involved in the crises, as well as those who suffered from secondary traumatic effects. Unfortunately, most incidents that have occurred on our school campuses and our neighborhoods have somehow managed to fly under the radar of the Critical Incident Debriefing process, and this extremely important, proven method of lessening the long-term impact of the trauma has rarely been employed in school districts reeling from an incident of school violence. The fallout of failing to properly handle the debriefing process following these events has been devastating, and we will never know exactly how much damage may have been inflicted as a result of this neglect.


About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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One Response to Critical Incident Training

  1. -bill says:

    May God’s richest blessings be yours as you reflect on the extent of His love demonstrated through the death His Son on the cross and the awesomeness of His power exhibited through the resurrection.

    To God be the glory!

    a spiritual oasis

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