INSIDE IOWA STATE
February 9, 2001
Critical incident response team seeks to prevent crises
by Anne Krapfl
Preventing crises is as much the charter of Iowa State's Critical
Incidents Response Team (CIRT) as responding to them. During its Feb. 2 open
forum, the Professional and Scientific Council received a report on the
goals and activity of CIRT.
Teresa Branch, assistant vice president for student affairs, chairs the
team. Other team members work in public safety, student counseling, student
affairs, human resource services and news service, and bring a specific
expertise to the team.
"CIRT members are happy to consult with you if you're concerned
about an individual or the individual's behavior," Branch said.
"You don't have to wait until something happens to call. We want
to serve a preventative purpose, as well.
Since spring 1995, CIRT members have been trained to deal with problems
that include threatened violence and acts of violence, natural disasters,
chemical spills, life-threatening diseases, transportation accidents and
demonstrations with a potential to turn riotous.
Gene Deisinger, a team member who heads the special operations unit in the
department of public safety, said not all calls for help end up with the
CIRT team. If units represented on the team can respond adequately to a
call, they will. But he emphasized that ISU employees shouldn't try to
evaluate the "worthiness" of their requests.
"If you have concerns, go ahead and call with the information you
have," he said. Sometimes, it turns out others have expressed concerns
about a problem or individual, independent of your experience, he
When asked for advice on spotting potentially dangerous people in the
workplace, Deisinger said he's more concerned about a silent, seething
person than one who blows off steam or is outspoken. He cautioned against
relying on "criminal profiles" -- lists of stereotypical
personality or behavior traits -- that magazines may publish.
Predictors of violence are the individual, whether the setting facilitates
or discourages violence, and the presence or absence of
"triggering" conditions that make the person view violence as a
viable option. Each incident is evaluated using these predictors, he
For example, convicted serial killer Ted Bundy probably wasn't a
danger to many kinds of people, Deisinger said. "But if you fit his
victim profile (young women with long hair who responded to requests for
help), Ted Bundy was very dangerous."
Requests for CIRT assistance may be made to Deisinger, 4-4428, or Branch,
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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