Following exposure to a critical incident, the individual may present with or experience a widerange of symptoms. The following is a general guideline and as noted throughout this article, they mayor may not be present, their degree may vary greatly and could be itinerant.Physical: Fatigue, Nausea, Muscle tremors, Twitches, Chest Pains, Difficulty Breathing, Rapid Heart-rate,Headaches, Vomiting, Grinding of Teeth, General Weakness, Dizziness, Profuse Sweating and Chills.Cognitive: Placing Blaming, Confusion, Attention Deficit, Hyper or Subdued Alertness, Hyper VigilanceProblems with Concentration, Memory Lapses, Amnesia, Lack of Spatial Awareness, Disturbed Thinking,Nightmares, Reoccurring Images and related.Emotional: Anxiety, Feelings of Guilt, Grief, Denial, Extreme Panic, Emotional shock, Uncertainty,Depression, Inappropriate Behaviors, Feeling Overwhelmed, Anger, Irritability and Agitation.Behavioral: Change in Routine, Change in Speech or Speech Patterns, Withdrawal, Emotional Outburst,Suspiciousness or Paranoia, Loss or Increase in Appetite, Changes to typical Alcohol Consumption, IllicitDrug Use, Antisocial Behavior or Actions, Increased Startle Reflex Reaction, Restlessness, Change inSexual Functioning, Non-specific pains and sudden changes in health.
Peer Support and Recognition
The symptoms of stress borne out of a critical incident or the accumulation of years of exposuremay come on suddenly or as a gradual process, as such, it is critical that we recognize the indicators andhow to work towards a remedy. While most agencies have critical incident debriefings and monitoringprograms that strive to identify both near term manifestations and those occurring over the course of acareer, it is you and your fellow officer that serves as the first line of defense and salvation from thepotential hard these stressors can cause.The immediate impacts may be overlooked due to a fellow officers own self management of criticalincident stress, this is where debriefing and monitoring plays a key role. It helps the individual andcoworkers recognize some of the signs of critical stress points and how to seek remedy with honor. It ishowever the long term stress and its impact that call for peer recognition and support. Months or evenyears can pass before the cumulative effects of stress present themselves. Studies show that for thesufferer of cumulative stress, they may be the most difficult to reach because of the disassociation fromone particular incident and the presence of overwhelming stress. As a close colleague, you may be in thebest position to recognize changes in behavior. These changes can include performance, capability andoutlook.