What is Critical Incident Stress Debriefing- CISD?

Critical Incident usually is a single traumatic occurrence that results in an overwhelming emotional, psychological and physical response. “Caught off guard" and "numb" from the impact of a critical incident, individuals and communities are often unprepared to handle the chaos of a catastrophic situation.


Davis (1992) and Mitchell (1983) provide examples of a "critical incident" as a sudden death in the line of duty, serious injury from a shooting, a physical or psychological threat to the safety or well-being of an individual or community regardless of the type of incident. Moreover, a critical incident can involve any situation or events faced by emergency or public safety personnel (responders) or individual that causes a distressing, dramatic or profound change or disruption in their physical (physiological) or psychological functioning. There are oftentimes, unusually strong emotions attached to the event which have the potential to interfere with that person’s ability to function either at the crisis scene or away from.” A crisis response worker assists the individual, community, or work place to regain a sense of safety, and learn ways to handle the common effects of a trauma to assist in healing, e.g., robbery, or death at the work place. 1

1 www.aaets.org