Crisis Intervention

Physical Reactions
Shock, numbness, frozen fright, fight or flight, adrenaline, heart rate, hyperventilation, body relieves self, slow motion, senses ...

Emotional Reactions (heightened by the physical reactions)
Shock, disbelief, denial, fear, terror, confusion, frustration, out of control, guilt, grief, loss of trust, faith, identity, future; selfish, unpredictable.

Severity of Reactions

A. Intensity

B. Duration

C. Pre-existing psychopathology

D. Suddenness

E. Acceptability

F. Proximity

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A. Event outside the range of usual experience

B. Duration of at least 1 month, onset can be 6 months later

C. Indicators - fear of death, pre-existing psychopathology, disassociation

Re-experiencing the event

A. intrusive thoughts

B. flashbacks, hallucinations, repetitive play (children)

C. intense psychological distress

Stress Response

Physical Physical
  • nausea
  • sweating and tremors
  • increased heart rate
  • hyperventilation
  • exaggerated startle reflex
  • loss of appetite
  • increased smoking
  • increased alcohol use
Emotional Emotional
  • exhaustion
  • tears
  • anxiety
  • fear
  • anger & resentment
  • overwhelming sense of sadness
  • loss of sexual drive
  • irritability
  • depression
  • loss of emotional control
  • fear of repetition of event
Cognitive Cognitive
  • disorientation
  • confusion
  • impaired concentration
  • difficulty sleeping
  • nightmares
  • pre-occupation with the incident
  • memory problems
  • flashbacks
  • poor attention span

General Adaptation Syndrome
In response to stress, the average person goes through these phases:

  1. Phase One is the general phase where the body has a fight-flight response.
    • The sympathetic nervous system is activated through the secretion of adrenaline
    • Blood is routed away from the gastrointestinal system to the heart and skeletal muscles
    • Glucose is released into the blood.
    • The muscles take a preparedness for action
  2. Phase Two is a stage of increased resistance where the body defends itself from the stressor
    • Most of the physiological changes which occurred during the alarm phase are reversed
    • Increased cortisol leads to increased metabolism and increased muscle strength (the feeling of ongoing tension)
    • The unique feature of this stage is a reduction in the body's immunity to other stressors making the body more vulnerable to new sources of stress.
  3. Phase Three is collapse or surrender
    • The body quits fighting due to exhaustion
    • The light levels of cortisol and the ongoing muscle tension lead to shock and lowered resistance to infection. This is why some people get ill after the stress is relieved.
    • It is the effects of these last two phases which are thought to lead to the ongoing physiological complications of stress. (hypertension, ulcers, Crohn's disease, etc.)

Canadian research has shown that following a catastrophic event, 80% of individuals directly involved will show some symptoms within 24 hours. (anxiety, irritability, grief, guilt.)

    • 50% of these individuals will lose their symptoms on their own.
    • 50% will still have symptoms one year later.
    • 10% will suffer a profound long term effect. (increased absenteeism, family disharmony, personality change, substance abuse).

What to expect
Some of you may experience some reactions over the next few days, some of you may not. If you do have a reaction, the following are the types of reactions most often reported.

  • sleep difficulties ( such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking early), nightmares, fatigue
  • headaches
  • muscle tension
  • loss of increase in appetite
  • irritability, anger
  • sadness
  • loss of emotional control
  • preoccupation with the incident
  • conflict with friends, peers and family

If these happen to you, it is not unusual. You are experiencing NORMAL human reactions to ABNORMAL events. Most of these symptoms should disappear within a week to ten days. If they are still bothering you in 2 to 3 weeks, speak to an institutional psychologist.

What everyone should do

  1. EXERCISE: within the next 24 hours. This helps to burn off the chemicals that have been generated in your body to enable you to deal with this event.
  2. EAT RIGHT:There is a tendency to increase your white sugars; avoid this. Increase your healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid red meats and eat fish, chicken, beans, eggs or cheese for protein.
  3. MAINTAIN YOUR NORMAL SLEEP SCHEDULE: If you're having difficulty sleeping, a glass of warm milk or herbal tea will help you fall asleep. Avoid sleep medication.
  4. WATCH YOUR "SINS": There is a tendency to double up on favorite sins (alcohol, tobacco, etc.). This will add to your stress. Try to maintain your normal consumption rates.
  5. TALK ABOUT THE INCIDENT: Talking will help to relieve the stress. Talking helps us process events
  6. AVOID RUMINATION: Don't keep rehashing the event in your head. Distract yourself with activities and / or interactions with others.
  7. INVOLVE YOURSELF IN ANY FOLLOW-UP THAT IS PLANNED: It is important to talk about the incident, learn how it is affecting you and how best to cope with the normal and expected stress reactions we have to these unusual events.


Victim Assistance Coordinator
Ms. Roseanne Kaupp
phone: (403) 529-8480

Volunteer Coordinator
Ms. Deidre Giesbrecht
phone: (403)-502-8918

Unit Assistant
Ms. Nathalie Castets
phone: (403) 529-8469