What Is A Critical Incident?
A critical (or traumatic) incident is any event outside the usual realm human experience that is markedly distressing (e.g. evokes reactions of intense fear, helplessness, horror, etc.) Such critical incidents usually involve the perceived threat to one's physical integrity or the physical integrity of someone else. Most importantly, critical incidents are determined by how they undermine a person's sense of safety, security and competency in the world. This results in a form of psychiatric injury, also called traumatic impact or traumatic stress.
Examples of Critical Incidents
As you can see, you need not be directly involved to be adversely affected by a critical incident.. Generally, the closer you are to the actual event and the people involved, the more severe the impact. However, television and news media coverage, especially excessive and/or graphic depictions, may serve to increase the likelihood of experiencing traumatic impact, especially anxiety and feelings of not being safe.