Framework to reduce the impact of critical incidents
This section synthesises the best available knowledge on the impact of railway critical incidents and on actions to be taken to reduce their negative impact on crew members. We used this information to develop a framework that takes into account several key issues:
- Objectives: The purpose of the framework presented here is to help railway companies prepare their employees for experiencing a critical incident,and to develop a comprehensive incident management protocol and follow-up strategies. These programmes aim at preventing long term traumatic reactions by providing training, by reducing the effects of controllable risk factors and by enhancing protective factors.
- Time: Critical incidents are imbedded in a timeline, where awareness of risk and prevention of negative impact can take place even before the incident occurs, and where long term effects should be considered at different levels (symptoms, ability to work, return to work, long term hyper vigilance, etc)
- Work context: Critical incidents take place during the normal course of a working day. Therefore, prevention and intervention strategies should be implemented in the work place and be part of normal work procedures. This allows the crew member, the local manager, the company officers, the railway police and any other relevant people involved to be trained, informed, prepared and to know exactly what to expect from themselves and others in a time of crisis. We also know from the work related trauma literature and from studies of the railway context that when a critical event occurs in the work place, if the employer provides adequate support, the chances for recovery and return to normal functioning are higher.
- Prevention / Intervention: Preventive activities play a key role in reducing the risk for people to develop traumatic reactions.
- Protective and risk factors: Others sections of the website summarise protective and risk factors associated with the development of a traumatic reaction. A strategy to reduce the risk for post incident traumatic reactions and to support employees who develop symptoms should be based upon these risk and protective factors as well as being scientifically validated.
This framework concentrates on things that can be done within the work environment and on ways to improve access to outside help at critical moments. Therapeutic interventions to reduce the effects of critical incidents have been evaluated and recommendations already exist regarding their use by professionals with railway crew members.