Critical Incidents Policy

Critical Incidents Policy.

In Castleknock National School we always aim to protect the wellbeing of our whole school community by providing a safe and nurturing environment.


Recognising that the key of managing critical incidents is planning, Castleknock National School has developed this Critical Incidents Policy and accompanying plan. Our hope is that, in the event of an incident, these will help staff to react quickly and effectively and to maintain a sense of control. They should also help us return to normality as soon as possible and ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited.

This policy has been formulated in consultation with the staff, students, parents and Board of Management of Castleknock National  School. In accordance with the School’s Health, Safety and Welfare Statement and, in consultation with the National Educational Psychological Service(NEPs).

Definition of a critical incident.

In this policy the term ‘Critical Incident’ denotes any incident or sequence of events which overwhelms the normal coping mechanisms of the school and disrupts the running of the school. It includes:

  • The sudden death of a member of the school community through sudden death, accident, terminal illness or suicide.
  • A physical attack on a staff member or student.
  • A criminal incident occurring during school time.
  • An intrusion into the school.
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism etc.
  • Lack of services. eg. Electricity.
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community.
  • An accident/tragedy in the wider community.

The term ‘suicide’ will not be used. The phrases ‘tragic death’ or ‘sudden death’ may be used instead.

Key Roles and tasks in the Critical Incident Management Process.

Critical Incident Management Team

The critical incident management team consists of:

  • Principal and Deputy Principal.
  • Health & Safety Representative.
  • Secretary.
  • Caretaker.
  • Chairperson of the Parent’s Association.

The roles of the Critical Incident Management team members, staff and Parent’s association are detailed below.

The Critical Incident Management Team will delegate the responsibilities of any member of the team who is unable to fulfil their responsibilities.

The Principal and Deputy Principal will normally be responsible for:

  1. The care of and communication with staff and delegating of particular responsibilities.
  2. Calling in external support agencies and the emergency services.
  3. Notifying the Board of Management, The Parents Association and The Department of Education & Skills.
  4. Drawing up a letter informing parents of the critical incident and the schools response.
  5. Reporting incident to Health & Safety Authority.
  6. Communication with the media.
  7. Convening a critical incident management meeting and review meetings.

The Health and safety Representative will normally be responsible for:

  • Assessing the Health and Safety issues.
  • Liaising with the Principal, Deputy Principal, Caretaker and other members of the Critical Incident Management Team.
  • Assisting the Principal with reports of dangerous occurrences or accidents for for the Health and Safety Authority.

The Secretary will normally be responsible for:

  1. Ensuring the office is manned at all times.
  2. Liaising with the Principal, Deputy Principal and other members of the Critical Incident Team.
  3. Drawing up a letter for parents giving information about the critical incident and the school’s response.
  4. Facilitating the preparation of a press release.

The Caretaker will normally be responsible for:

  1. Controlling access to the school premises.
  2. Maintaining security procedures – safe entry and exit.
  3. Refer media to Principal – prohibit photography.
  4. Maintaining services and normal procedures.
  5. Liaising with Principal in information gathering.

The Teaching Staff will normally be responsible for:

  • Supervising their own and colleagues classes.
  • Assisting and identifying and supporting students at risk or in distress.
  • Assisting in information gathering.
  • Maintaining normal procedures.
  • Liaising with and reporting to the Principal or Deputy.

Other Non-Teaching Staff will normally be responsible for:

  • Maintaining normal procedures.
  • Assisting in identifying and supporting students at risk or in distress.
  • Liaising and reporting to the class teacher.

The members of the Parent’s Association will normally contribute to:

  • Representing parent concerns and wishes re schools response to critical incident to the Principal.

Critical Incident Rooms.

In the event of a critical incident, the G.P. room or another nominated room, i.e. the staffroom will be the main room used to meet the staff, students, parents and visitors involved.

After Schools Activities

In the event of a situation occurring after school, the same short-term actions outlined below should be followed, including the following:

  • Evacuate building immediately. (if necessary)
  • Get the assistance from a 2nd
  • Ensure the safety of the additional children as well as the injured.
  • Contact emergency services (if needed)
  • Contact principal immediately.
  • Contact parents.
  • Record events and procedures taken.

Contact Numbers/Emergency Information.

The school secretary has responsibility for maintaining an up-to-date list of contact numbers for students and their parents/guardians and for all staff.

The Health and Safety Representative has responsibility for ensuring that a list of contact numbers for the emergency support services is displayed in the staffroom, school office and Principal’s office.

Evacuation Procedures.

The evacuation procedures are displayed near the door of every classroom. The evacuation procedures/fire drill is practiced at least once a term.

See Appendix 3.


Emergency Red Card System

Every classroom has an emergency red card (located next to the door) to be used for an emergency within the classroom. Pupils are trained early in September should an emergency occur (such as a teacher fainting, a child taken seriously ill, a violent, abusive or intoxicated individual entering the classroom) a pupil takes the card to the nearest adult they can find. The teacher will respond immediately to the emergency. The child proceeds with the same card to the office so that the principal is informed immediately and can come to assist the situation. The staff health and safety officer has the responsibility to ensure that each year, every class has an emergency red card located next to their classroom door.

Training and Staff Development.

The school will provide opportunities for staff and members of the Board of Management to attend information/training meetings on issues such as suicide, bereavement and First Aid.


Visitors, including parents must report to the school office/reception, identify themselves and state their business in the school. Visitors will not be permitted beyond the secretary’s office, except at the invitation of a member of staff.

Members of the media should not be permitted beyond the school gate, except at the invitation of the Principal or Deputy Principal.

The Media.

Only the Principal or Deputy Principal will communicate with the media. Students and staff have a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of those involved in the incident and need to be sensitive to the consequences of any public statement.

The Principal and Deputy Principal will prepare a brief, written statement as appropriate.

Photography within the school grounds is strictly forbidden unless with the written permission of the Principal.

Procedures to be followed in the event of a Critical Incident.

Short Term Actions (1st day).

  1. Ensure the safety of students, staff and visitors.
  2. Convene a meeting of the Critical Incident Management Team and delegate responsibilities.

(a)Gather ACCURATE INFORMATION (incident report form).

(b)Identify high-risk students.

(c)Contact appropriate agencies and organise support.

(d)Contact the D.E.S., BOM., NEPs and the Parent’s Association.

(e)Appoint people to assist the secretary and caretaker in handling telephone enquiries and manning the front gate and office.

(f)Arrange the supervision of students.

  • Hold a staff meeting and distribute resource material.
  • Organise a timetable for the day.

(g)Inform students and parents.

  • Make contact with the affected/bereaved family.
  • Organise the reunion of students with their parents.
  • Respond to the media (Principal and Deputy Principal only).
  • Arrange a visit to the affected/bereaved family.
  • Report to Health & safety authority, if necessary.

As far as possible, maintain normal school routine.

Medium Term Actions (24 – 72 hours).

  • Convene a meeting of the Critical Incident Management Team to review the events of the first 24 hours and to delegate responsibilities.
  • Arrange support for students, staff and parents.
  • Update staff and students.
  • Update the D.E.S., BOM, the Parent’s Association and the relevant external agencies.
  • Plan the reintegration of students and staff.
  • Consider the legal and financial consequences.
  • Principal will give a written report to the Board of Management as part of the review meeting.

Long Term Actions.

  • Monitor students and staff for signs of continuing distress.
  • Plan the long-term counselling needs of individuals.
  • Plan for anniversaries and memorials.
  • Evaluate the school’s response to the Critical Incident and amend the Critical Incident Policy appropriately.
  • Evaluate the effect on student/staff relationships.
  • Evaluate the long term effect on the educational progress of students.
  • Ensure that new staff are aware of the Critical Incident Policy and are informed of which students were affected in any incident.
  • Evaluate the legal and financial consequences.
  • Report back to BOM, DES and PA.

Supporting a child’s return to school

Careful consideration needs to be given by school management to planning for re-integration where a child has been absent from school for a period of time because of family trauma or mental health concerns.

There is a need to

  • acknowledge the child’s difficulties and provide reassurance that relevant supports will be organised.
  • take account of the child’s ability to participate in general school activities and routines.
  • agree on an approximate communication system between parents/guardians supporting teachers and the external agencies if appropriate.
  • discuss and agree on issues related to confidentiality with parents and staff.
  • consider carefully the information provided by the professionals involved.
  • assign a supportive and sensitive staff member who has a positive rapport with the child.
  • ensure that the assigned staff member has collegial staff support in carrying out this role.
  • parents/guardians need assurance that they will be contacted should issues of concern arise.
  • ensure that relevant staff understand that a young person should not be defined by difficulties/diagnosis.

Monitoring, Review and Evaluation.

The Critical Incident Management Policy will be reviewed and evaluated following any Critical Incident and on a three yearly basis.


The Critical Incident Management Team have consulted resource documents provided to schools:

Responding to critical incidents: Guidelines for Schools (NEPS, 2007)

Guidelines for Schools on How to Respond to the Sudden Unexpected Death of a Student

When Tragedy Strikes: Guidelines for Effective Critical Incident Management in Schools (INTO/Ulster Teachers Union, 2000)

Suicide Preventions in Schools: Best Practice Guidelines (IAS, National Suicide Review Group, 2002)



The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the unpreceded and unforeseen closure on 12th March, 2020. Schools remained closed for the remainder of the school year. Schools adopted a number of online platforms to maintain some distance learning. Schools are to re-open in August/September 2020 with a Covid Policy and a Covid Response Plan in place. We have also put together a policy on Blended Learning in case of further closures. Health and Safety measures and strict protocols around cleaning, access to school buildings and social distancing have been implemented.

Should the school be unable to access a substitute teacher to cover staff absences parents may be required to keep children at home as we can no longer divide classes up around the school building.

Should there be another closure work plans will be uploaded to the website and on the SeeSaw platform.

Copies of the Blended Learning Policy and guidance on how to use Seesaw have been circulated to all parents.

Approved by the Board of Management (June, 2010).

Reviewed & amended: April, 2013 & Re-reviewed December, 2019.

Re-Reviewed: August, 2020.

Date of next review:  December 2022.

























Appendix 1.


Incident Report Form.




Name/Names: ____________________________________________________________

Class:                 ____________________________________________________________

Date & Time of Incident: ___________________________________________________

Details of Incident:

Details of Medical Assistance:

Incident Reported to:______________________________________________________

Date & Time:______________________________________________________________

Time Parent/Guardian contacted:_________________________________________

Signed:_________________________            Date:______________________________


Appendix 2.

Emergency Contact Numbers.

Gardaí, Blanchardstown Station. 6667000
Ambulance/Fire Brigade 999/112
Blanchardstown Hospital 6465000
Temple Street CHILDREN’s Hospital 8784200
Local G.P. (Dr. Liam Power) 8201033
Local Pharmacy 8204411
Dentist Phone Roselawn Health Centre 8212123
Caretaker (William) 0863885880
Roselawn Health Centre HSE. 8212123
Local Counselling (Aistear Beo) 8852680
Castleknock Parish Centre(Jenny) 8200040
Chairperson of BOM, Canon Houston 8213083
School Inspector, Eileen O’Sullivan
NEP’s Psychologist Darragh O’Brien
DES Communications Unit. 8734700
Burglar Alarm 8201093
Fire Alarm 2952366
Gas leak 1850205050
E.S.B. 1850372999



                   Castleknock National School.                                        



Fire Drill & Evacuation Policy




The fire drill/evacuation policy of Castleknock N.S. has been produced following a collaborative consultation process by staffs in response to changing circumstances in the school.



This policy aims to;

  • Enable the school to provide for the immediate needs of students, staff and visitors in the event of a fire
  • Have in place appropriate safety procedures which comply with the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act
  • Ensure a safe school environment for all

School Ethos:

The school is committed to the care of the whole school community and the provision of a safe and secure environment for learning.  This policy is in keeping with those ideals.



  • To utilize outside agencies (local fire station, fire officer) for training and staff development, so as to enhance safety procedures
  • To develop a tried and trusted framework which will ensure the safety of all school personnel in the event of a fire

Internal Procedures:

In the event of a fire, the following steps must be taken;

  • Activation of fire alarm
  • In all classroom/resource areas, children are to stand up, push their chairs under the tables and calmly walk in a single file to the door
  • All teachers must check the class toilets before vacating the room
  • Each class is to assemble at the allocated fire assembly point
  • Each teacher will take the roll book of their own individual class with them and call the roll on reaching the fire assembly point
  • Pupils can only return to the classroom once permission has been given to do so
  • The fire drill is be carried out once a term

Role and Responsibilities:

All teachers are responsible for the safety and well being of the pupils in their care.  The Principal has overall responsibility for ensuring proper procedures are in place.  Fire drill schedules are part of the post of responsibility within the in-school management structure of Castleknock N.S.




  • Positive feedback from all stakeholders
  • Maintaining safety standards
  • Achieving a coordinated and orderly evacuation in the shortest time possible
  • Yearly reviews


This policy has been in operation since February 2009.


The policy was ratified by the Board of Management in January 2009.


  • Fire safety in the home – National Safety Council
  • Fire safety in the school – National Safety Council