International Shipping Available

Staff Safety During Crisis Interventions

Staff Safety During Crisis Interventions 

Crisis prevention and intervention strategies are designed to stabilise situations in which an individual is experiencing extreme distress, often triggered by specific circumstances, an underlying condition, or a combination of both. Crisis scenarios are extremely complex and unpredictable, which makes them particularly challenging for staff members to manage. When a person is in crisis, the situation could further escalate, which may cause a very real risk of harm to staff or the individual. Crisis intervention strategies are designed on short-term techniques to quickly de-escalate a crisis and promote a safer environment for staff and individuals in crisis. 

Staff safety during a crisis intervention is a large concern for staff members and their organisations. Organisations that manage individuals with challenging behaviour will usually have a crisis response plan in place for managing these situations based on risk assessments and prior occurrences of crises. However, even after training to de-escalate a crisis and sticking to the organisational plan, the unpredictability of an individual in crisis means that escalation into violence will always remain a concern. 

It is the staff members on the frontline who will, unfortunately, face the brunt of a crisis scenario that has escalated into violence, and this can have severe consequences on their physical and psychological health. Getting hurt and injured by someone in the workplace severely impacts morale, job satisfaction and general well-being. 



Using Restraint as a Last Resort 

Organisations may use restraint techniques as an absolute last resort if a crisis has escalated to the point where the individual or staff are at immediate risk of harm. Restraint use is approached cautiously and under strict procedures due to its implications on the restrained person. These consequences include physical and psychological damage, a loss of dignity, trust issues and can further increase aggression. For these reasons, many organisations try to reduce their use of restraint to an absolute minimum and only when all other strategies have been attempted to de-escalate. 

Restraint also does not guarantee safety for staff either, as attempting to restrain an individual using physical or mechanical restraint requires close physical contact between the team and the individual in crisis, increasing the risk to staff. When an individual’s limbs are restricted, it can heighten the risk of staff being bitten as the mouth may become the only way the individual can express resistance, and they are likely in even more distress due to being restrained. 



Crisis De-escalation Techniques and Training 

As restraint is a last-resort practice, if used at all, the focus of de-escalation techniques is on less harmful practices such as verbal persuasion, distraction, active listening, and negotiation techniques. These tried and tested methods hopefully prevent the situation from escalating further without physical intervention. Several organisations and professionals offer training on these practices as it is important for staff to recognise the signs of an individual in crisis and know the strategies they need to implement to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible. 


The Importance of Comprehensive Crisis Intervention Frameworks 

It is crucial not to underestimate the complexity of a crisis as, whilst comprehensive training is vital, not all crises can be resolved through these means alone before escalation into violence. Underlying factors can be completely unknown to staff, such as current mental state, influence of substances, or the presence of undiagnosed underlying conditions. All of these can lower the effectiveness of de-escalation techniques. Therefore, it is important to recognise that de-escalation strategies must be part of a broader framework of protective measures to keep the individual and staff safe. This does not undermine the importance of training, but unpredictable scenarios require further plans and policies to ensure harm reduction. Staff members must be adaptable, recognise when additional protection may be necessary, and have access to support, such as backup from security personnel or emergency services, when the risk of violence escalates beyond their control. 



Actionable Insights for Organisations 

Organisations are responsible for providing staff with the training and protection to manage these situations and looking after their well-being. Ensuring the well-being of staff involved in crisis interventions requires a robust support system, encompassing a range of resources to help the team manage the stresses of handling crises. To this end, organisations can offer: 


  • Continuously Updated Training: Reflect the latest in crisis management research, feedback from staff and previous crisis scenarios to keep training relevant and practical. 

  • Develop a Comprehensive Crisis Intervention Framework: Incorporate various strategies to ensure adaptability and individualised responses. 

  • Conduct Regular Risk Assessments: Adjust policies and training based on ongoing assessments of potential hazards and the effectiveness of intervention strategies. 

  • Mental Health Resources: Provide access to counselling services and mental health professionals, providing confidential sessions focused on stress management. 

  • Peer Support Programs: Creation of support groups for staff to share experiences in a supportive environment. 

  • Emergency Response Protocols: Have clear protocols for immediate assistance in escalating situations, including medical aid and security personnel rapid response. 

  • Adopt Further Protective Measures: Consider the implementation of additional staff safety protocols, including using protective clothing designed to minimise the risk of injury to staff during crisis scenarios. 

  • Provide Protective Clothing : Bite resistant clothing has proven to effectively reduce the risk of injury to staff, in both healthcare and education settings. 



About the Author 

Robert Kaiser is an expert in the prevention of workplace violence related injuries. His written work has been published in several international security and safety focused publications. He is also the Founder and CEO of BitePRO®, the world's first specialised brand of protective clothing, offering dependable scratch and bite protection for those working with individuals displaying challenging behaviour.