Critical Incident Policy


The following plan is based on ‘Responding to Critical Incidents Guidelines and Resource Materials for Schools (2016) R19-21 P.79-90’.

St Patrick’s BNS aims to protect the well-being of its students and staff by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times as outlined in our School Vision and influenced by our Catholic ethos. The Board of Management, through Ian Lane, has drawn up a Critical Incident Management Plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans.

Review and Research

The CIMT have consulted resource documents available to schools on and including:

  • Responding to Critical Incidents Guidelines and Resources for Schools (NEPS 201 6)
  • Suicide Prevention in Schools: Best Practice Guidelines (IAS, National Suicide Review Group        (2002)
  • Suicide Prevention in the Community – A Practical Guide (HSE 2011)
  • Well-Being in Post-Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (DES, DOH, HSE 2013)
  • Well-Being in Primary Schools – Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion

(DES, DOH, HSE 201 5) 

The staff and management of St Patrick’s BNS Ringsend recognise a critical incident to be “an incident or sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school”. Critical incidents may involve one or more students or staff members, or members of our local community. Types of incidents might include:

  • The death of a member of the school community through accident, violence, suicide or suspected suicide or other unexpected death 
  • An intrusion into the school
  • An accident involving members of the school community
  • An accident/tragedy in the wider community
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism, etc
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community


The aim of the CIMP is to help school management and staff to react quickly and effectively in the event of an incident, to enable us to maintain a sense of control and to ensure that appropriate support is offered to students and staff. Having a good plan should also help ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited. It should enable us to effect a return to normality as soon as possible.

Creation of a coping supportive and caring ethos in the school

We have put systems in place to help to build resilience in both staff and students, thus preparing them to cope with a range of life events. These include measures to address both the physical and psychological safety of the school community.

Physical safety

  • Evacuation plan formulated
  • Regular fire drills occur
  • Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked
  • School doors locked during class time
  • Rules of the yard

Psychological safety

The management and staff of St Patrick’s BNS aim to use available programmes and resources to address the personal and social development of students, to enhance a sense of safety and security in the school and to provide opportunities for reflection and discussion. 

  • Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is integrated into the work of the school. It is addressed in the curriculum by addressing issues such as grief and loss; communication skills; stress and anger management; resilience; conflict management; problem solving; help-seeking; bullying; decision making and prevention of alcohol and drug misuse. Promotion of mental health is an integral part of this provision
  • Staff have access to training for their role in SPHE
  • Staff are familiar with the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures and details of how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures
  • Books and resources on difficulties affecting the primary school student are available
  • Information is provided on mental health in general and such specific areas as signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies such as Tusla, NEPS, HSE, SCP, and Gardai.
  • Inputs to students by external providers are carefully considered in the light of criteria about student safety, the appropriateness of the content, and the expertise of the providers. See DES Circulars 0022/2010 (Primary)
  • The school has a clear policy on bullying and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy
  • There is a care system in place in the school using the “Continuum of Support” approach which is outlined in the NEPS documents published on 2007 for primary schools. These documents are available on 
  • Students who are identified as being at risk are referred to the designated staff member (e.g. guidance counsellor or support teacher), concerns are explored and the appropriate level of assistance and support is provided. Parents are informed, and where appropriate, a referral is made to an appropriate agency.
  • Staff are informed about how to access support for themselves.

Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT)

A CIMT has been established in line with best practice. The members of the team were selected on a voluntary basis and will retain their roles for at least one school year. The members of the team will meet annually to review and update the policy and plan. Each member of the team has a dedicated critical incident folder. This contains a copy of the policy and plan and materials particular to their role, to be used in the event of an incident. 

Team leader: IAN LANE 


  • Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting
  • Coordinates the tasks of the team
  • Liaises with the Board of Management; DES; NEPS; SEC
  • Liaises with the bereaved family

(Note – The Deputy Principal will take the role in the absence of the team leader. )

Garda liaison IAN LANE


  • Liaises with the Gardaí
  • Ensures that information about deaths or other developments is checked out for accuracy before being shared

Staff liaison Andy O’Rourke


  • Leads briefing meetings for staff on the facts as known, gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions, outlines the routine for the day
  • Advises staff on the procedures for identification of vulnerable students
  • Provides materials for staff (from their critical incident folder)
  • Keeps staff updated as the day progresses
  • Is alert to vulnerable staff members and makes contact with them individually 
  • Advises them of the availability of the EAS and gives them the contact number.

Student liaison Helen Sherry


  • Alerts other staff to vulnerable students (appropriately) 
  • Provides materials for students (from their critical incident folder)
  • Maintains student contact records (R1).
  • Looks after setting up and supervision of ‘quiet’ room where agreed

Community/agency liaison Adelaide Keegan


  • Maintains up to date lists of contact numbers of 
    • Key parents, such as members of the Parents Council
    • Emergency support services and other external contacts and resources
  • Liaises with agencies in the community for support and onward referral
  • Is alert to the need to check credentials of individuals offering support 
  • Coordinates the involvement of these agencies
  • Reminds agency staff to wear name badges
  • Updates team members on the involvement of external agencies

Parent liaison Conor Fahy 


  • Visits the bereaved family with the team leader
  • Arranges parent meetings, if held
  • May facilitate such meetings, and manage ‘questions and answers’ 
  • Manages the ‘consent’ issues in accordance with agreed school policy
  • Ensures that sample letters are typed up, on the school’s system and ready for adaptation 
  • Sets up room for meetings with parents 
  • Maintains a record of parents seen
  • Meets with individual parents
  • Provides appropriate materials for parents (from their critical incident folder)

Media liaison Philip Kelly 


  • In advance of an incident, will consider issues that may arise and how they might be responded to (e.g. students being interviewed, photographers on the premises, etc)
  • In the event of an incident, will liaise where necessary with the SEC; relevant teacher unions etc. 
  • Will draw up a press statement, give media briefings and interviews (as agreed by school management) 

Administrator Emma Stack


  • Maintenance of up to date telephone numbers of 
    • Parents or guardians
    • Teachers
    • Emergency services
  • Takes telephone calls and notes those that need to be responded to
  • Ensures that templates are on the schools system in advance and ready for adaptation
  • Prepares and sends out letters, emails and texts
  • Photocopies materials needed
  • Maintains records

Record keeping Michelle Fitzgerald

In the event of an incident each member of the team will keep records of phone calls made and received, letters sent and received, meetings held, persons met, interventions used, material used etc. 

The Principal (or secretary) will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls, sending letters, photocopying materials, etc.

Confidentiality and good name considerations

Management and staff of St Patrick’s BNS have a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of people involved in any incident and will be sensitive to the consequences of public statements. Members of school staff will bear this in mind, and seek to ensure that students do so also, e.g. the term ‘suicide’ will not be used unless there is solid information that death was due to suicide, and that the family involved consents to its use. The phrases ‘tragic death’ or ‘sudden death’ may be used instead. Similarly, the word ‘murder’ should not be used until it is legally established that a murder was committed. The term ‘violent death’ may be used instead.

Critical Incident RoomsIn the event of a critical incident, the following rooms are designated for the indicated purposes
Room Name:Designated Purpose:
Staff RoomMain room for meeting staff
School Hall or Ms Keegan’s RoomMeetings with students
Principal’s OfficeMeetings with parents
Principal’s OfficeMeetings with media
LibraryIndividual sessions with students
Staff Room/Principal’s OfficeMeetings with other visitors

 Consultation and communication regarding the plan

All staff were consulted and their views canvassed in the preparation of this policy and plan. Students and parent/guardian representatives were also consulted and asked for their comments.

Our school’s final policy and plan in relation to responding to critical incidents has been presented to all staff. Each member of the critical incident team has a personal copy of the plan.

All new and temporary staff will be informed of the details of the plan by Ian Lane.

The plan will be updated annually (November).

Critical Incident Management Team
Team leader: Ian Lane 086 8230207
Garda liaison Ian Lane 086 8230207
Staff liaison Andy O’Rourke 0876665229
Student liaison Helen Sherry & Neasa McGonigle& Laura Allen 0868963813
Community liaison Adelaide Keegan 0863148379
Parent liaison Conor Fahy & Fionnuala Purcell 0863570326
Media liaison Philip Kelly 0863075507
Administrator Emma Stack & Michelle Fitzgerald 0863175410 0879295608

Short term actions – Day 1

Task Name
Gather accurate informationIan
Who, what, when, where?All staff
Convene a CIMT meeting – specify time and place clearly Ian and AOR
Contact external agenciesIan and PK
Arrange supervision for studentsAOR and HS and LA and NM
Hold staff meetingAll staff
Agree schedule for the dayAll staff
Inform students – (close friends and students with learning difficulties may need to be told separately)HS and staff
Compile a list of vulnerable studentsAll staff
Prepare and agree media statement and deal with mediaIL and PK
Inform parentsCF
Hold end of day staff briefing IL

Medium term actions – (Day 2 and following days)

Convene a CIMT meeting to review the events of day 1Team leader
Meet external agenciesIL
Meet whole staffIL
Arrange support for students, staff, parentsIL
Visit the injuredIL
Liaise with bereaved family regarding funeral arrangements IL
Agree on attendance and participation at funeral serviceIL
Make decisions about school closureBOM

Follow-up – beyond 72 hours

Monitor students for signs of continuing distressClass teachers
Liaise with agencies regarding referralsAll staff/ DLP
Plan for return of bereaved student(s) IL and staff
Plan for giving of ‘memory box’ to bereaved familyIL and staff
Decide on memorials and anniversariesBOM/Staff, parents and students
Review response to incident and amend planStaff/BOM
Hospital (St Vincent’s)2214000
Fire Brigade999
Local Primary Care Centre660 8629
HSE1850 24 1850
Community Care Team660 8629
Child and Family Centre (TUSLA)7718500
Child and Family Mental Health Service (CAMHS) 8796800
NEPS Psychologist087 6501970
DES 8896400
Clergy087 2726868
State Exams Commissionn/a
Employee Assistance Service1800 411 057

Signature of Chairperson: ______________________ Date:__________________

Signature of Principal: _________________________ Date: __________________

Ratified by BOM September 2019