St. Finian's College,
Est. 1802
(044) 934 8672 - (044) 934 8313

Critical incident management policy 2020-2021

St Finian’s College aims to protect the well-being of its students and staff by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times. As a Catholic School, St. Finian’s College seeks to develop a sense of community that attempts to live out the teaching of Christ, especially in our treatment of others. We endeavour to develop the spiritual, intellectual, social, cultural and physical potential of all our students. With the cooperation of the parents, this potential is developed as fully as possible, so that each student can achieve success at his/her own level of ability.

The Board of Management, through Mr John Mc Hale has drawn up a Critical Incident Management Plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans.

The Critical Incident Management Team comprises of:

Mr J Mc Hale, Ms A Ryan, Ms E Carey, Mr G Lillis, Mr P Leonard, Ms K Jameson, Mr R Mc Hugh, Mr D Andrews, Mr P Bardon, Mr K Hickey, Mr E Casserly, Mr D Farrell, Ms Susan Donnelly, Ms A Kirby and Mr R Meegan.

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)
  • Understanding Self Harm Awareness Training Programme HSE
  • 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)

Define what you mean by the term ‘critical incident’

The staff and management of St Finian’s College 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:

Mr D Farrell is our Health & Safety Officer

  • Evacuation plan formulated
  • Regular fire drills occur
  • Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked
  • Pre-opening supervision in the school. Teachers are on duty from 8.45-8.55am in the school building.
  • At 11.00am break and Lunch break teachers are on supervision duty in the school building and in the grounds of the college.
  • At 3.55pm teachers are on supervision in the school building.
  • The school has 3 defibrillators. They are located in the staff room and in the gym.
  • The Code of Excellence is signed by all students of the college at the beginning of the school year.
  • A risk assessment of the school building has been undertaken by our Health & Safety Officer. Guidelines are in place.

Psychological safety

The management and staff of St Finian’s College 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 post primary school student are available from the Guidance Dept. and online at,,
  • Information is provided on mental health in general and such specific areas as signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Staff are informed in the area of suicide awareness and some are trained in interventions for suicidal students
  • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies – DES, EWO, TUSLA, NEPS, CAMHs, YAMs, An Garda Siochana, SENO, NCSE, GtoTalk
  • 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 Circular 0023/2010 (Post-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 in 2010 for post primary schools. See also Student Support Teams in Post Primary Schools (2014). 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 Year Head or Tutor), 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 from the middle management team 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: John Mc Hale


  • 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 – Aisling Ryan/Emma Carey will take the lead in the absence of the team leader)

Garda liaison John Mc Hale


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

Staff liaison Aisling Ryan/Emma Carey


  • 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, Employee Assistance Service and gives them the contact number 1800 411057.

EAP Consultants (branded as Inspire Wellbeing) are the current providers of the Employee Assistance and Wellbeing Services which includes a free confidential service accessible by means of a free phone telephone helpline available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing counselling on a range of personal health and wellbeing issues given by qualified clinicians.  Up to 6 face-to-face counselling sessions are available to provide supportive and solution-focused care based on an individual’s clinical needs.  The telephone service also provides specialist information, support and advice in relation to family, financial, legal, work-related and consumer information services as well as providing management support.

Student liaison Aisling Ryan/Emma Carey & Aine Kirby/Rory Meegan


  • At post-primary level, may co-ordinate information from tutors and year heads about students they are concerned about
  • Alerts other staff to vulnerable students (appropriately)
  • Provides materials for students (from their critical incident folder)
  • Maintains student contact records.
  • Looks after setting up and supervision of ‘quiet’ room where agreed

Community/agency liaison Kathy Jameson/Ger Lillis/Kevin Hickey


  • 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 John Mc Hale/Aisling Ryan/Emma Carey & relevant Year Head


  • 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 John Mc Hale


  • 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 Susan Donnelly


  • 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

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.

Susan Donnelly 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 Finian’s College 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 Rooms In the event of a critical incident, the following rooms are designated for the indicated purposes
Room Name:Designated Purpose:
GaffneyMain room for meeting staff
GaffneyMeetings with students
Front Sitting RoomMeetings with parents
Front Sitting RoomMeetings with media
Guidance AreaIndividual sessions with students
Front Sitting RoomMeetings 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 Aisling Ryan/Emma Carey

The plan will be updated annually May 2021

Short term actions – Day 1

Gather accurate informationJohn Mc Hale
Who, what, when, where?John Mc Hale
Convene a CIMT meeting – specify time and place clearlyJohn Mc Hale
Contact external agenciesAisling Ryan
Arrange supervision for studentsEmma Carey
Hold staff meetingAll staff
Agree schedule for the dayJohn Mc Hale
Inform students – (close friends and students with learning difficulties may need to be told separately)Guidance Dept Year Head SEN Dept
Compile a list of vulnerable studentsAine Kirby & Rory Meegan
Prepare and agree media statement and deal with mediaJohn Mc Hale
Inform parentsJohn MC Hale
Hold end of day staff briefingJohn Mc Hale

Medium term actions - (Day 2 and following days)

Convene a CIMT meeting to review the events of day 1John Mc Hale
Meet external agenciesAisling Ryan/Emma Carey
Meet whole staffSMT
Arrange support for students, staff, parentsGuidance
Visit the injuredSMT, Year Head
Liaise with bereaved family regarding funeral arrangementsSMT
Agree on attendance and participation at funeral servicePCT
Make decisions about school closureBOM

Follow-up – beyond 72 hours

Monitor students for signs of continuing distressClass teachers Year Head
Liaise with agencies regarding referralsAisling Ryan/Emma Carey & Guidance
Plan for return of bereaved student(s)Guidance
Plan for giving of ‘memory box’ to bereaved familyGuidance
Decide on memorials and anniversariesBOM/Staff, parents and students
Review response to incident and amend planStaff/BOM
Garda044 93 84000
Hospital044 93 40221
Fire Brigade044 93 32101
Local GPsDr Louise Power 044 93 42480 Health Centre 044 93 41987 Bellview Clinic 044 922 6078

Community Care Team044 93 84485
Child and Family Centre044 93 53999
Child and Family Mental Health Service (CAMHS)044 93 94223 044 93 94219
School Inspectorn/a unless undergoing a school inspection
DES0906 48 3600
ASTI/TUI01 604 0160 / 01 1850 453 545
Clergy044 93 48338 (Cathedral House)
State Exams Commission0906 442700
Employee Assistance Service1800 411 057


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    St. Finian's College
    Est. 1802
     Longford Road, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath,
     Ireland, N91 H593
     (044) 934 8672 - (044) 934 8313
     Terms & Privacy