A critical incident is an unexpected and emotionally demanding event which causes immediate distress to members of the University community and has the potential to cause ongoing distress in individuals directly and indirectly involved in the incident. Examples include natural disasters, disease outbreaks, acts of terrorism, serious accidents or sudden death.

In the event of an emergency, contact Security Services on 01904 32 3333 and state the nature of the emergency. This will initiate the Business Continuity Management Plan if required.

Full details of procedures, roles are responsibilities relating to this are provided in the University policy and procedure on business continuity management.

Typical reactions

It is normal for people to experience some distress following a critical incident. The severity of this will be determined by personal interpretation of the event, perceived seriousness of the incident, length of exposure, existing coping strategies, and available social support.

Each person's reaction will be different but common reactions include:

  • heightened state of anxiety
  • being more aware of potential danger
  • not wanting to return to places that are reminders of the incident
  • distressing memories of what happened
  • difficulty relaxing
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite

People who witness critical incidents can also often experience feelings of guilt and helplessness, believing they could have done more to help or to prevent the situation. Such reactions may emerge after a period of time, after initial feelings of shock and disbelief have subsided.