For Experts

  • Currently not a diagnosis in the DSM or ICD.
  • Potentially psychologically traumatic events that are common among some groups, such as public safety personnel.
  • Critical incidents were thought to involve experiencing unusually strong emotional reactions which have the potential to interfere with responders’ ability to function either at the scene or later and could include “all physical custody (arrests), all vehicle and foot pursuits, all dispatched code responses (emergency), all motor vehicle accidents that require physical work and all calls which present an active threat to life and/or property” (Mitchell, 1983, p. 36).
  • Critical incident” was used to distinguish common exposures in the line of duty from exposures thought more likely to be problematic.
  • Available research suggests that individual perceptions, rather than a specific subset of potentially psychologically traumatic events, may be key determinants of whether a potentially psychologically traumatic exposure becomes problematic.

For General Public

  • Currently not a diagnosis in the DSM or ICD.
  • Potentially psychologically traumatic events that may be commonly experienced by public safety personnel, but that may nonetheless evoke unusually strong emotional reactions.
  • May occur when a person is overwhelmed by the scope, severity, personal connection, or extent of exposure to a given potentially psychologically traumatic event.
  • Often mistakenly used interchangeably with psychologically traumatic event or trauma.

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