Distractions and Interruptions…What’s the Difference?

As I talk with first responders in classes about the impact of distractions and interruptions on situational awareness, I find myself often being asked: “What’s the difference?” While there are distinctly different causes for distractions and interruptions, the outcome is often very similar…a reduction in situational awareness and the potential for a catastrophic outcome. [tweet […]

Interruptions can be a barrier to situational awareness

  Like many of you, I do my best work when I am not interrupted. Whether it’s someone trying to carry on a conversation, a phone ringing or a text message, an interruption disrupts the train of thought. And when the train of though is disrupted, situational awareness can be adversely impacted.

Situational Awareness Starts with the Size-Up

During my fireground situational awareness classes we talk about the process for making high-stress, high consequence decisions. The first step in this process is performing a rapid size up. When I ask participants how long they take to size up a single-family residential dwelling fire with no exposures, the answer I get ranges from 10 […]

Episode 51: Seek First to Understand

                Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern suffered second and third degree burns following a catastrophic collapse of a roof. This episode is dedicated to him and is intended to inspire all of us to: Seek First to Understand. Length: 21 minutes   http://traffic.libsyn.com/samatters/SAM20051207C20Seek20First20to20Understand.mp3 _____________________________________________________ If you are interested in taking […]

Chatty TSA agents

It is possible that while you are attempting to pay attention to something, you can be drawn off your task by distractions or interruptions to your workload. A distraction is something that pulls your attention away by accident (like a reflex look in the direction of a loud noise). An interruption is something that pulls […]

Situational Awareness Survey

Recently I conducted an informal survey on my social media networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), asking: In your opinion, what is the #1 barrier to situational awareness. As expected with social media, the responses were varied and some were intended to be humorous. I would like to share a few of the responses.

Using the simulation environment to improve situational awareness

Many first responder training programs use simulation in the development of decision making competencies. Simulation exercises help develop skills in setting strategy and tactics, in applying policies and procedures and in developing critical thinking skills. But how can simulations be used in the development of situational awareness skills? The answer lies, in part, in understanding […]

Commanders in Turnout Gear

I have just read with great interest a very long thread on Facebook about whether or not an incident commander should wear turnout gear at a fire scene. As my focus and passion is improving first responder situational awareness, I would like to address this issue from that perspective. The feedback on Facebook was, as […]

Understanding Stress – Part 7: Information Overload

Welcome to Part 7 of my series on stress and its impact on first responder situational awareness. I appreciate all the very nice comments I have received by email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep them coming. Your messages inspire and motivate me more than you can ever imagine. Thank you so much! In the previous […]