Critical Incident Debriefing

Our Critical Incident Debriefing Toolkit provides a comprehensive, evidence-based resource on what are critical incidents, how to provide support and a hot debrief following a critical incident. It can be read in sections or as a whole.

Understanding and acknowledging the importance of preparing for and delivering critical incident debriefing (CID), the College together with the Trainee Wellbeing Project Group (TPWG) undertook to develop a suite of informed, accessible and diverse training resources for fellows and trainees during and following critical incidents.

This online educational CID toolkit has been made possible through funding provided by the Australian government’s Specialist Training Program (STP) and the work of respected and highly experienced advanced clinical social worker Dr Liz Crowe. Liz (Dr Crowe)  has two and a half decades of expertise in grief, crisis, end of life care, bereavement work, debriefing and staff wellbeing in paediatric critical care environments. Her work with anaesthetists is also well known and highly regarded.   

The toolkit has a particular emphasis on resources that will support and educate trainees, their supervisors and heads of department in regional and remote health services, while still being relevant and valuable for all anaesthetists, anywhere.

In order to build this toolkit, comprehensive research has been undertaken including multiple literature searches, a survey, focus groups and a number of tailored pilot sessions as well as a peer review.

 “Debriefing ideally creates a space where we can reflect on what went well and we need to consciously repeat again in the future, and what were the challenges and things we consciously would change into that future.  Debriefing also allows us to acknowledge any confronting scenes or emotions that need to be normalised and shared”. Dr Liz Crowe

What to expect from the CID toolkit

This toolkit provides a comprehensive, evidence-based resource on what are critical incidents, how to provide support and a hot debrief following a critical incident. It can be read in sections or as a whole.

Within the toolkit you will find journal articles, fact sheets, podcasts, TED talks and videos, websites, and how-to and explanatory documents.  Each section has been broken down into blogs and resources for people to access when they’re stressed, concerned, curious, or only want to engage with a brief summary of the literature or to watch a short video on their chosen subject matter.

The toolkit provides the research and evidence of why individuals benefit from support, and how a culture of psychological safety is critical to all aspects of training and learning. It offers a comprehensive background and framework on when and how to conduct a hot debrief.

How to use the resources

The toolkit has been structured into three main sections:

  1. Critical incidents,
  2. How to hot debrief,
  3. How to care for a trainee or colleague in distress.

Below we have provided some ideas on how to use the toolkit taking advantage of all the resources:

  • The fact sheets have been developed for scenarios where you require urgent access to information and need to act quickly and decisively.  Fact sheets are your initial resource where you have five minutes before holding a debrief with a trainee and you want to affirm your intentions and structure your thoughts or as a trainee where you want to understand what you should expect from a debrief.
  • The how-to-documents are for the times when you have 15-20 minutes before leading a debrief or for trainees to prepare questions and feel informed of the process and its rigour and transparency.
  • The comprehensive Critical Incident Report has been purposely developed and designed so that you can dip in and out, depending on availability of your time.  Perhaps you are interested in:
  1. The research behind the toolkit?
  2. What articles and academic literature support the action and resources within the toolkit,
  3. Earning CPD credits and undertake some extensive reading (between one and three hours)?

The multimedia resources compliment the written documents and include videos and three podcasts [college ID and Networks password required to access] that can be listened to on your way into work, or on your way home or during a break or when you are out on a walk.

Helping us keep this resource relevant

We are committed to ongoing evaluation of the CID toolkit to ensure it relevance to you and its efficacy in providing support, education and currency of information on critical incident debriefing. 

We have developed a feedback form that is embedded into the Toolkit so that over the next 12 months we can undertake continuous review. We would be pleased for you complete this questionnaire, as it is through receiving your feedback that this resource will be updated and remain valuable.consultants.  

In closing

This toolkit could not have been developed nor would it reflect what is actually required for critical incident debriefing without the support of a number of individuals and organisations. We would like to thank all of them for their generosity and openness in sharing their time, insights, expertise and experiences.  Know that your work has paved the way for many others to benefit and learn.

Importantly, this toolkit will be far reaching. In addition to STP training sites and regional and remote clinicians, it has the potential to benefit and support all anaesthetists, inclusive of trainees, supervisors of training, SIMGs, wellbeing advocates and consultants.  

Building a culture where it is okay to feel a range of emotions and to be brave enough to keep learning, and where we feel supported are the foundations for lifelong wellbeing”. Liz Crowe

Last updated 16:43 21.10.2022