Module 12: working with intoxicated young people: learner's workbook

7.2 Debriefing critical incidents

Page last updated: 2004

Some episodes of intoxication may constitute a critical incident. After a critical event there are certain tasks that you need to complete. Your organisation should have policies and procedures that deal with such events, but generally procedures are as follows:

  • Contact Manager/Supervisor and debrief

  • Log actions, incident reports etc (Ensure that you cover all aspects of the incident, what was said, done etc.)

  • Legal measures (Follow up any legal issues.)

  • Debrief with young person (if possible and appropriate) and others who witnessed the event (separately)

  • Examine your own work practices to check if they may have contributed to the episode.
The debriefing process can also be a helpful learning opportunity to identify what we did well and what we could have done differently. Analysing incident sheets and sharing experiences with others can be a useful team-learning strategy if the process is structured and solution-focused. An analysis of your skills and values can help you to identify and address those areas that you would like to develop further.

Although often distressing for those involved, a crisis situation can therefore be used for revision of policy and procedure in order to improve responses to similar situations in the future. Having said that, it is always best to think of ways of managing potentially difficult situations such as intoxicated, and/or aggressive young people prior to that situation arising.

High rates of burnout in workers in this area can be expected unless they debrief with fellow workers and/or supervisors after critical incidents.

Finally, there is a high risk of contracting an infectious bloodborne disease given the high rate of injury associated with intoxication. Precautions (e.g. innoculations, protective gear, isolating the infectious person) must be taken in accordance with policy and procedures.
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