Preparing for and dealing with emergencies and traumatic incidents

Your school or ECE may face a natural disaster or pandemic. Other traumatic incidents could include criminal acts or student suicide. It’s important to be prepared for these events and know how to respond if they happen.

You can contact our specially trained staff at any stage to support your early childhood education (ECE) service or school as you prepare for or deal with an emergency or traumatic event.

Such emergencies or events could relate to natural disasters, for example, an earthquake, a flood or an outbreak of a serious infectious disease, or they could be human-induced, for example, accidental or non-accidental death or serious injury of a child, young person or staff member, allegations of abuse involving a staff member, loss of property through fire or vandalism.

What can we help with

  • Traumatic incidents: We have Traumatic Incident teams based in all Special Education offices around the country. You can contact them at any time through your local Special Education office or by phoning 0800 TI Team (0800 848 326).
  • Emergency planning: If you would like help forming an emergency plan for your ECE service or school, you can contact our Emergency Management team by emailing:
  • Pandemics: The latest updates on infectious diseases and health issues that might affect your community are available on the Ministry of Health website.

How we can help

Our Traumatic Incidents teams can:

  • help you develop appropriate processes for dealing with an incident to ensure the safety and well-being of your children/young people and staff and to return your ECE centre/school to normal operations as quickly as possible
  • help you understand the emotional and psychological impacts of a traumatic incident and the effects such impacts can have on how people behave, and advise you on things you can do to support people who have been involved in a traumatic incident
  • advise you on how to communicate about the incident appropriately with your children/young people, staff, parents and the community – including the media
  • link you with other appropriate services where necessary.

Our staff do not provide counselling, but they may be able to help direct you to suitable counselling services.

Useful resources 

  • Emergency Planning Guidance [PDF, 281 KB]. This guidance is for schools when planning for an emergency or traumatic incident. It complements both the Emergency Management Plan and Traumatic Incidents: Managing Student and Staff Wellbeing.
  • Emergency Management Plan [DOC, 836 KB] A framework to help you as you develop your own emergency plan. You can tailor our suggested framework to suit your specific needs, and if you would like any help developing your plan, email
  • Nine-step checklist [PDF, 172 KB] This checklist leads you through some useful steps to responding to an emergency or traumatic incident. You might find it helpful to print it out and keep it in a place where people can refer to it quickly and easily whenever they need to.
  • Traumatic incidents - managing student and staff wellbeing [PDF, 751 KB]. This guide will assist you to support your staff and students after an incident has happened and to minimise risk to others.
  • Preventing and Responding to Suicide: Resource kit for schools [PDF, 1.7 MB] This kit provides guidelines for preventing and responding to suicidal behaviours and includes, checklists and tools, and prompts for creating a positive, safe environment in your school. The information is based on the best research evidence available.
  • The single point of contact for reporting allegations of abuse involving adults working in ECE's, schools or other education facilities is: Phone 04 463 7593 or 027 220 7326
  • Reporting abuse protocols [PDF, 72 KB] These protocols and guidelines aim to help you establish an agreed approach in your school to reporting child abuse and neglect and managing child abuse allegations. While the content is directed at schools, ECE services might find some of the ideas useful.

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