Purpose: Experiencing an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury is a critical incident and produces serious emotional responses. Athletic trainers (ATs) experience critical incidents in their day-to-day work. The purpose of this study was to explore how ATs experience a critical incident during the course of clinical practice. Methods: We used one-on-one, web-based, semi-structured interviewing with a criterion sample of ATs who experienced a critical incident and used any critical incident response resources in the last year (n=17; age=32±8; years of experience=9±7; years in current position=4±5). We used a 3-person team with a multi-phase process to identify the emerging domains and categories. Results: Two emergent domains were identified from the study. External support referenced multiple personnel resources available after a critical incident occurred, specifically, trained mental health professionals, untrained personnel, and trusted colleagues/coworkers. Coping with the emotional response included debriefing, spirituality, and complementary mental health strategies. Conclusion: In preparation for critical incidents, emergency action planning and after-action planning for healthcare delivery and the emotional response are both essential. Many ATs do not have the formal training, but continuing education courses, community-based mental health resources, and the promotion of professional organization resources can assist ATs in critical incident management.
Holmes KL, Neil ER, Granger KC, Eberman LE. Access, Engagement, and Experiences with Critical Incident Response Resources in Athletic Training. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2022 Mar 31;20(2), Article 17.