Situational Awareness Begins With Knowing Your Equipment

I received an email from a firefighter who was frustrated, disappointed, and angry. He came to work for his shift and, as he always does, started his day by performing a safety check of his personal gear and his self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). When he opened the cabinet door on the apparatus he could hardly […]

Come down off the high perch of judgment

At the start of the Flawed Situational Awareness program I share a story about my early years as a company officer and subsequently as a command-level officer. Even in those days (more than 30 years ago), I held a deep desire to learn from failure and catastrophe. I read every near-miss and casualty report I […]

Another False Alarm: A Tale of Complacency

Complacency is a big deal for first responders because it impacts your situational awareness on multiple levels. I would like to give every responder the benefit of the doubt that if or when they have found him or herself being complacent that it wasn’t happening on purpose. In other words, I hope every responder desires […]

Aggressiveness and Situational Awareness

I was recently contacted by email from a Situational Awareness Matters member asking if aggressiveness and safety can co-exist at an emergency scene. My answer was “of course they can.” The two actions, being safe and being aggressive are not mutually exclusive. To think they are is to believe responders must sacrifice safety when they […]

Actions of the first-in officer

During a recent Flawed Situational awareness program, I engaged the class in a discussion of what the actions of the first-in officer should be once the decision is made to be offensive/interior. The choices were: a.) Make entry with the crew; b.) Establish a fixed command position outside and send the crew in without the […]

Ten Things to Develop Situational Readiness

This website is dedicated to improving situational awareness of first responders. The precursor to situational awareness is situational readiness. I define situational readiness as: Having the ability to anticipate what things need to be in place to be well-prepared for an emergency response; and then, taking the steps necessary to ensure those things are done […]

Defensive Decision Making

The decision to be defensive or to transition tactics from offensive to defensive at a structure fire requires strong situational awareness [tweet this]   and it may be one of the hardest decisions a commander can make. The difficulty with this decision is not rooted in tactical shortcomings. The problem more fundamental.

Complacency – a barrier to situational awareness

We develop and maintain situational awareness by being perceptive about what is happening around us. To be perceptive, we must pay attention to what is going on in our environment. We can employ all of our senses to help us pay attention – seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. However, if we let our guard […]

19 Ways Communications Barriers Can Impact Situational Awareness

If you are a student of near-miss and casualty reports then you know, without a doubt, that flawed communications is a major contributing factor when things go wrong and flawed communications is often a factor when the quality of situational awareness erodes. In fact, flawed communications was the second most frequently cited barrier to flawed […]

Seven ways frustration can impact situational awareness

Anyone who’s been frustrated knows it can consume a lot of your mental energy and thinking space. This can significantly impact your situational awareness. In fact, depending on the level of frustration, your brain can be hijacked by  all-consuming thoughts about what is causing the angst. While operating at an emergency scene, frustration may draw […]

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