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ITD introduces new crisis incident plan

The Idaho Transportation Department, like many other government agencies, implemented new procedures for guarding against external threats after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. With creation of a Critical Incident Management Team in 2003, ITD now has formalized a plan to guard against internal threats as well.

A three-person team began working last summer to develop a plan that will guide all ITD workplaces when threats or potential threats arise. The team included Karen Sparkman, manager of the Equal Employment Opportunity office; Mary Harker, manager of Human Resources; and Cheryl Rost, manager of Employee Safety/Risk Management.

Other ITD employees, including Public Information Officer Jeff Stratten and Facilities Manager (Headquarters) Mike Morehead and ITD's deputy attorney general Steve Bywater also contributed to the collaborative project.

Their efforts resulted in the November 2003 publication of a 15-page Critical Incident Management Plan for the department. An expert in critical incident management from Utah provided a four-hour training session for members of executive management, district engineers and division administrators. Topics included how to recognize potential threats, how to respond in the event of an incident and procedures to use following an incident.

The plan defines a critical incident as “any incident that overwhelms the individuals involved and surpasses their abilities to cope. These are usually unexpected, frightening and unsettling events that occur at the worksite and cause strong reactions, anxiety and questions or concerns in the employees who witness or hear about an event.

“Generally, the incident involves a serious or potential threat to one’s own safety, the safety of others, the occurrence of a workplace death, serious injury or altercation."

Threat is defined as any word or actions involving intent to harm individuals or property; violence is any act of physical, verbal or psychological threat or abuse, assault or trauma on an individual that results in physical and/or psychological harm.

Events could range from a member of the public or a fellow ITD worker who threatens physical harm or damage to property, to workplace violence, accidents or calamities such as a fire, hazardous material leaks, acts of sabotage…

“It is the intent of ITD,” according to the plan, “through its established policies and department training, to minimize the impact of any critical incident in the workplace. In the event of a critical incident at the workplace, managers will make every attempt to provide for the security, safety and psychological well-being of the victim(s), their families and co-workers by following the procedures outlined in the (plan).”

The plan provides managers and supervisors guidance in handling communication about the critical incident to family members, other employees and the news media. It also makes available intervention services to all individuals impacted by a critical incident, including the victim’s family members.

The critical incident management team will help provide resources, expertise and crisis response assessment and manage the critical incident once it is reported to them.

Each of ITD’s six districts will use the plan as a foundation and modify it to ensure that it meets the specific requirements of their operation. Human Resources Development also will provide training for all employees and supervisors. Attendance will be required.