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Stress & Leadership

This assignment will assess the following competency: Evaluate the simultaneous dynamics of critical incident stress and tactical leadership.


Write a brief essay using the following format:

Answer the directions below in no more than 1,500 words. The assignment should be submitted using Microsoft Word with default margins, using 12 point Times New Roman black font, be double-spaced, and be in essay format.

Default Margin Formatting:
Alignment: Left
Outline Level: Body Text
Indentation: Left & Right: 0
Special: None
By: Leave blank
Spacing: Before & After: 0
Line Spacing: Double
At: Leave blank
Don’t add space between paragraphs of same style: Do not ‘check’


You are a Sheriff in a rural community. You receive a dispatch that there has been a chemical tanker truck accident and two other vehicles are involved. You send a dispatch out calling for all Deputies to meet you at the scene.

You drive out to the scene, not knowing what to expect, and arrive to mass carnage. You are first on the scene, and therefore the Incident Commander, and an initial survey of the scene is something only nightmares are made of: A chemical tanker trunk is jack-knifed with the cab resting on the ground, yet the tanker is on top of a car and there is unknown liquid chemicals pouring onto the vehicle. There is another vehicle, approximately fifteen (15) feet away from the chemical tanker truck, that is upside down and is smoking…and you are looking at it when a fire breaks out in the engine. You can see that there are two adults, and two children, trapped in the car under the chemical truck’s tanker, and all of them are moving (so they are alive). The liquid chemicals are slowly pouring down the car and, due to the incline of the road, are slowly pooling on the road and slowly moving towards the vehicle that is upside down (with the engine on fire).

Three Deputies arrive and approach you for commands. You try to speak, yet can only point to the chemical tanker truck and the car trapped under it. You throw up and cannot concentrate. The three Deputies start talking and you get your bearings. You cannot tell what type of chemical symbols are on the tanker, so you cannot determine what the leaking liquid is. However, you can tell that the family is alive, in a panic, and need rescue. You cannot wait for a HazMat team to arrive- the trapped people will be dead by then.

You then try to speak to the three Deputies again, yet nothing comes out. You smack yourself in the face, come to reality, and tell the deputies,

“Deputy 1- go over to the car trapped under the tanker and try to get the people out. Deputy 2- call for the fire department and EMS. Deputy 3- go check to see if the driver of the tanker truck is alive!”

Deputy 2 runs off to his patrol vehicle.

Deputy 1 replies, “Sheriff, are you sure? Shouldn’t we wait for a HazMat team?”

“Yeah, we should” said Deputy 3.

You reply, “Well, maybe you are right. We don’t know what type of liquid that is.”

“…but those people are going to die! They are trapped. I am with you, Sheriff, forget HazMat!” exclaimed Deputy 1.

You reply, “Okay- let’s put this to a vote. Raise your hand if you think that we should wait for a HazMat team.”

Only Deputy 3 raised his hand.

“Well, it’s settled!” you say. “Let’s go save them!”

Deputy 3 runs back to you right after Deputy 1 and Deputy 2 run off to execute your orders. Deputy 3 says, “Okay Sheriff, rescue is on the way, yet they are about twenty (2) minutes from arriving. What do you want me to do?”

You are stuck staring at the people trapped in the car and Deputy 1 running over to it.

“Sheriff? SHERIFF!”

You snap out of it and reply, “Sorry- uh, go over to the over-turned vehicle and see if anyone is alive in there.”

“No, wait!” you exclaim as you change your mind. “Stay right here and wait for the fire department and EMS.”

Deputy 1 gets to the car and opens the passenger-side door easily. He pulls a woman out who looks oddly familiar. It is the mother of Deputy 1’s child!

“She’s alive!!!” screams Deputy 1. “My beautiful baby momma is alive!!!!”

Deputy 1 is obviously in a panic. He throws her over his shoulder and starts walking back towards you. Right as he walks by the over-turned vehicle, the vehicle’s engine explodes and the blast throws Deputy 1, and his child’s mother, six feet away to the ground. She landed on top of him. He lays there for two minutes trying to regain his composure.

Deputy 1 crawls out from under her and realizes why he didn’t suffer any damage from the blast: He was shielded from the blast by her body, and she suffered a fatal injury where a chunk of the engine cut her carotid artery wide-open; she had already bled-out and was dead.

“No!!!!” Screams Deputy 1. He is sobbing uncontrollably and hunched over her body.

You take command! “Deputy 2- go help Deputy 1!”

Deputy 2 runs over to assist Deputy 1.

Meanwhile, you run over to check on Deputy 3. He is in the cab of the chemical truck close to the driver- who is still alive! You quickly assess that the driver had been tossed around the cab, during the accident, and had landed on the gear shifter. The driver is facing downwards and impaled on the gear shift.

“Sheriff, I checked it out and the gear shifter went perfectly into the center of the breastbone. We need to get him out of here after that explosion- I am sure the fire and chemicals have been spread around” says Deputy 3.

You look around the outside of the cab and over to the over-turned vehicle that exploded. There is no fire near the cab of the truck, nor chemicals that you can see, so you look over to Deputy 3 and say, “Let’s get him out!”

On the count of ‘three’, you two pull the driver off of the gear shifter. He dislodges at the end, after a series of tough pulls, and the three of you spill out of the cab onto the street. You get up to see that the driver was difficult to dislodge because the gear shifter didn’t go straight into his breastbone; rather, it was twisted under the skin towards the left-side of his body. The driver’s chest was spurting blood rapidly.

“Oh no!” screams Deputy 3. “I have never had someone die that I rescued!!!” He then begins attempts to stop the blood from squirting out. After two minutes of failed attempts, blood stopped pumping and the driver’s body went limp. Deputy 3 stared at the body and looked blank. You try to get his attention, but he is unresponsive.

“Deputy 3! Snap out of it!” you scream at him. He looks over at you and says, “Where am I?”

The fire department and EMS arrive at this time. You run over to the fire commander and report what happened. You then put her in charge, as Incident Commander, because your nerves are shot.

The first commander resolves the situation and you go home.

The next week, while at the Sheriff’s department, Deputy 1 and 3 try to talk to you about what happened during the previous week’s incident. You say, “Shut up! Don’t be such sissies. People die in our line of work. Just man up and move on.”

The following week, Deputy 1 called out sick. The next week, Deputy 1 and 3 called out sick, each, for three (3) days.

A few days later, Deputy 1 comes to your office and closes the door. He says that he has not been able to sleep and he keeps on ‘seeing’ his child’s lifeless body on the road.

Later than day, you find Deputy 3 asleep in his patrol car. You open the door and smell alcohol…it looks like he got drunk and fell while on duty.


*You are required to use the class text plus two external sources to answer the questions below.

  1. ANALYZE the Sheriff’s leadership style. OUTLINE, by using specific events during the incident, that CRITIQUE the Sheriff’s Problem Assessment, Risk Assessment, & Decision-Making.
  2. OUTLINE, by using specific events during the incident, that CRITIQUE the Sheriff’s Issuing Orders & Directions, and Command Presence.
  3. DETERMINE if any of the actors displayed signs of Acute or Delayed Critical Stress Symptoms.


Last Updated on May 14, 2019

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