Unit Level Critical Incident Response Teams

These guidelines address the formation and function of Critical Incident Response Teams, which prepare for and respond to incidents at the unit level.

  1. Form a Unit Critical Incident Response Team for your area with at least two people in each of these roles:
    1. Team Leader: Makes decisions, has access to financial resources.
    2. Operations Manager: Has access to departmental records, knows what activities are taking place (what research is going on in each lab, what programs will be impacted by a crisis), and arranges for fire drills.
    3. Communications: Focuses on communications needs during a crisis, maintains phone lists, creates listservs, notifies relevant people about the crisis, gets information out to a broader audience, arranges for media inquiries to be answered, arranges for counseling, arranges for departmental training in crisis management, etc.
    4. IT Systems: Is knowledgeable about departmental computing systems and able to assist in re-establishing access to computer databases from off-campus locations, quickly establishing departmental web pages with information about the crisis, and finding information relevant to the crisis, etc.
    5. Building Monitor/Emergency Building Coordinator/Floor Manager
  2. Create Critical Incident Management Tools:
    1. Establish a phone list with everyone's direct work number, cell phone number,  e-mail address and home phone.
    2. Establish a call tree.
    3. Create an e-mail list and learn how to access it from a location outside your office (like another building on campus or from your home).
    4. Get copies of floor plans for your building.
    5. Mark critical locations: rooms where chemicals are stored, rooms that house animals during the day, rooms where disabled employees work who will need assistance getting out of the building in case of emergency.
    6. Establish assembly points for the department to meet when the building is evacuated.
    7. Have a business continuity plan to identify and preserve the key elements you need to continue doing business.
    8. Create an Emergency Packet for each member of the Critical Incident Response Team to keep in the trunk of his/her car, in the office and at home. It should contain all of the above items.
  3. Prior to a Critical Incident:
    1. Hold a departmental meeting to inform your department of the CIRT Plan, and to get input.
    2. During the first class meeting each semester, tell students where the escape routes for that classroom are.
    3. Schedule fire drills. Insist on full participation.
    4. In CIRT team meetings, brainstorm the response for a variety of circumstances such as:
      • Fire
      • Death of a student or employee on campus
      • Death of a student or employee off campus
      • Violent incident
      • Takeover of building by protesters
      • Information about the department that leads to intense media scrutiny
  4. Team Responsibilities During A Critical Incident:
    1. Address security and safety issues first.
    2. Call 911: UA Police Department will respond
    3. Evacuate the building if necessary
    4. If UAPD has established a command post, CIRT members should identify themselves to police.
  5. Decide on Immediate Next Steps:
    1. Should classes be canceled?
    2. Will events or meetings have to be cancelled or merely relocated?
    3. Is a research activity that was in progress prior to the crisis in serious jeopardy? (An experiment that was abandoned midway?)
  6. Communications During and After A Critical Incident:
    1. Immediately notify the vice president, dean, director and department head.
    2. Within the first hour, create a brief factual statement about what happened and provide it to everyone in the unit. This will assist in rumor control.
    3. Determine which of these groups needs to be notified:
      • Other unit members
      • Students (Dean of Students Office can assist)
      • Immediate family of unit members or students
      • Entire Campus (University Communications will assist)
      • Media (University Communications will assist)
      • Parents (Parents and Family Association may assist)
      • Donors (i.e. an auditorium named after a donor is destroyed by fire)
  7. In Case of Death of a Student or Employee:
    1. UAPD will notify next of kin if the death took place on campus.
    2. Human Resources will assist in the case of employee death with such things as:
      • Coordinating benefits with appropriate individuals.
      • Providing critical incident support through its Life & Work Connections unit.
    3. The Dean of Students office will assist in the case of a student death.
      • Follow-up contacts with parents
      • Closing out student records on campus
      • Counseling
    4. The home department will initiate arrangements for a campus memorial service.
  8. Counseling After the Event:
    1. If the event is traumatic and involves a threat to personal security, counseling is available within hours.
    2. It may take six months for symptoms to emerge.
    3. If the event is traumatic, the one-year anniversary of the incident should be addressed by the department.
  9. Debriefing:
    1. Review what worked and what didn't work.
    2. Make changes to policy and CIRT plan if necessary.
    3. Thank people who assisted during the Critical Incident.