Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT)

Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT)

Anyone in the college community who is interested in learning more about CIRT (Critical Incident Response Team) is welcome to join us. Please contact the Personal Counseling Office at 814-898-6504.


Penn State Behrend is a small community with a population of 4,700 total students and nearly 700 faculty and staff. The Behrend College Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) was developed to mitigate the psychological impact of a traumatic campus event; prevent the subsequent development of a post-traumatic syndrome; and serve as an early identification mechanism for individuals who will require professional mental health follow-up subsequent to a traumatic event. The services of this team are offered to all students, faculty, staff, and their family members. The Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) was formed to facilitate interventions following a "critical incident" or campus crisis.

A crisis, for our purposes, is defined quite broadly. It is an event that may cause a temporary state of psychological unrest with a reaction causing a state of emotional turmoil. A critical incident is a sudden, powerful event outside of the range of ordinary human experience. A critical incident has the potential to overwhelm the usual effective coping mechanisms of either an individual or a group. While there are many types of critical incidents that can strike a college campus, the following are examples of the kinds of incidents to which we are prepared to respond.

  • Death of a student or other community member (e.g., by accident, suicide, etc.)
  • Serious injury of a community member
  • Multiple student deaths or trauma (e.g. van accident)
  • Physical and sexual assaults
  • Environmental disasters (e.g. fires, hurricanes)
  • Large-scale acts of violence

CIRT Mission

The Critical Incident Response Team at Penn State Behrend consists of various members of different disciplines throughout the campus community who have all been certified in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). CISM represents a comprehensive crisis intervention response to a critical campus incident. The vision of this team is:

  1. To return the campus community to its pre-crisis milieu as soon as possible.
  2. To identify, refer and/or assist any member of the campus community who may be at risk for depression, suicide, and other psychological problems due to the critical incident.
  3. To help normalize the reactions of those individuals grieving or traumatized.

Critical Incident Stress Management

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is a structured group process, facilitated by a small team of trained individuals, where those who have been impacted by a critical incident are given an opportunity to talk about and react to the incident and learn about the recovery process. The goals of CISM are to reduce the impact of traumatic events, speed the recovery process for those affected, and prevent the occurrence of more serious emotional difficulties. CISM is based upon the work of Jeffrey Mitchell, Ph.D., and George Everly, Jr., Ph.D., and is in use worldwide.

The nature and level of intervention depend on the kind of incident that occurs, the number of people affected, and the assessed needs of those individuals. The team is registered with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) meeting renewal criteria each year.

For further information, contact:
Sue Daley, Director
Personal Counseling
1st Floor, Reed Union Building
Penn State Behrend, 4701 College Drive, Erie, PA 16563

Tel: (814) 898-6504| Email: