Critical Incident or Accident?

What you need to know right now.



What is CIRP?

The Critical Incident Response Program is available to you and your fellow crew members. It is confidential and secure. The program has been established by ALPA and supported by FedEx Express.  CIRP is a program to help mitigate the psychological impact of an accident or incident and to aid in the normal recovery from these events before harmful stress reactions affect job performance, careers, families and health.



How does it work?

Pre-incident education is the first step.  After an event, a peer support volunteer can be available to you to hear your story in a confidential and safe environment.  Talking through an event that is out of the ordinary is the first step in creating normalcy. Call one of the numbers below.  If the event is known, a CIRP member may contact you first to ask if you would like to talk with a support peer volunteer.  We are pilots helping pilots.



Who is a CIRP peer support volunteer?

Peer support volunteers are fellow pilots that have been trained and screened specifically to meet the needs of pilots.  There are also spouse peer support volunteers to assist with the spouse of a crew member.  The conversation that you may have with a CIRP PSV will be held in the strictest o confidence.  No notes are taken.  No specific information is shared.



What is a critical incident?

Beside a full blown accident leading to death or hull loss, a critical incident may be less severe but just as damaging due to its possible insidious effects.  ALPA views critical incidents to include in-flight emergencies, wind shear, death of a child, training failure, loss of a medical, and any other event that may prove to be a challenge to coping skills due to its extraordinary dynamics.



What you need to know right now.

You may be trying to process an event that has never occurred in your life experience before, or this particular event may have become overwhelming due to compounded factors.  The brain is trying to make sense of the event and until it does it won’t let the event go.  This processing can have additional stress reactions that may seem separate from the brain’s processing of the critical accident or incident.  These reactions are NORMAL and very individual.  It can be manifested in physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral ways.


Physical:  Chest tightness, chills, cold, diarrhea, dizziness, fast breathing, fatigue, teeth grinding, headaches, hormonal changes, nausea, sweating, sleep problems, thirst, tremors, twitching, upset stomach, or visual difficulty.

Cognitive: Blaming others, confusion, disorientation, distressing dreams, hyper-vigilance, memory problems, overwhelmed by normal routines, slower thought process, and difficulty concentrating making decisions, and problem solving.

Emotional:  Feeling abandoned, angry, agitated, anxious, fearful, isolated, grief stricken, depressed, lost, numb, guilty, sad, uncertain or worried.

Behavioral: alcohol consumption differs, anti-social behavior, change is sex life, change in appetite, nonspecific body pain, paranoia, intense startle reflex, withdrawal, suspiciousness, pacing, and emotional outbursts.



What you can do right now.

Contact CIRP.  A peer support volunteer will contact you and provide you assistance in the process of creating meaning of the event.  Remember: You are normal and having common reactions to an abnormal situation.

• Vigorous exercise is especially critical within the first 24-48 hours of an accident or incident

• Take naps or just rest. Get more rest than you usually do.

• Eat healthy food and snacks. Eat meals on your regular schedule

• Drink more than your normal amount of water. This helps rid your body of toxins built up by the body’s physiological stress reaction.

• Reduce your use of caffeine and alcohol. Both interfere with normal sleep.

• Contact friends and talk to people you trust. This is the most healing action you can take. Talk about your reactions to the event and its effects on you.

• If you live alone, have someone stay with you for a day or so.

Do not make big life changes or decisions for some time after a major event.

• Make as many small, daily decisions as you can. This will give you a feeling of control over your life.

• In the event of an accident or incident with your airline, contact your family immediately to let them know you are okay. Record a new voicemail message to let those who care know you are okay.

• Contact your Casualty Assistance Liaison to help with family if you are on the road.