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Suggestion to Help Yourself and Others After a Critical Incident 

  1. Encourage the person to talk to you about how he or she is feeling.
  2. Don't assume that men handle this kind of trauma better than women.
  3. Tell the person how you feel: That you are sorry that they have been hurt.
  4. Remind the person that their confusing emotions are normal.
  5. Do not attempt to impose your explanation of why this has happened to the survivor.
  6. Do not tell the person that you know how she or he feels. You don't. Often such attempts are really aimed at relieving your own anxiety about how you feel about what has happened to the survivor.
  7. Be willing to say nothing. Just being there is often all that can help.
  8. Tell your friends and family how you are feeling. Even if you are not a direct victim of the trauma, remember that people who care about the survivors often become co-survivors emotionally.
  9. Monitor any unusual physical symptoms that might be interfering with your daily routine.
  10. Don't be afraid to encourage a person to ask for help, including counseling, if necessary. And don't be afraid to ask for help yourself even if you are not directly involved.
  11. Go to any court hearings, community meetings, meetings with insurance companies - any events that directly relate to the trauma. Offer to go for support.
  12. Try not to project your own feelings on those around you. Each person experiences trauma and its consequences differently. Be understanding to the pace that coping and healing occur.
  13. Don't be afraid to ask how someone is doing. Do not ask for details of the trauma. If the survivor wants to talk, listen. The best thing to do is to let the person know that you are there and that you care.

UW-Eau Claire Counseling Services
105 Garfield Ave, P.O. Box 4004
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
(715) 836-5521

Used with permission from Chippewa Valley Emergency Support Service


Depending on the critical incident and post-trauma consequences, these are examples of coping skills for debriefing participants.


  • Get ample rest.
  • Maintain a good diet and exercise.
  • Take time for leisure activities.
  • Recognize that these consequences are normal.
  • Find and talk to supportive peers and/or family members about the incident.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Get extra help from post-trauma counseling if you need it.
  • Remember that flashbacks are common and can be managed.


  • Drink alcohol excessively.
  • Use legal or illegal substances to numb consequences.
  • Withdraw from significant others.
  • Stay away from work.
  • Reduce amount of leisure activities.
  • Use off-duty time for training immediately after the event.
  • Have unrealistic expectations for recovery.
  • Expect the incident not to bother you.
  • Look for easy answers.