Staffing Levels Impact Situational Awareness

Research has demonstrated that, without question, stress can have significant impacts on situational awareness (SA). Stress can narrow your attention, cause task fixation, contribute to heightened awareness of non-critical information (at the detriment of more critical information) and so much more. As stress erodes situational awareness, it can also impact decision making. The research I […]

Unpredictable staffing: A barrier to situational awareness

The process of developing situational awareness starts with capturing information using the five senses. Then, the information must be understood. And finally, once the information is understood, a prediction is made about future outcomes. This process can be challenged when staffing is unpredictable.

Understaffing Impacts Situational Awareness

Understaffing can have a big impact on first responder safety. We all know that. But it can also have a huge impact on first responder situational awareness. More than I ever imagined. I have experienced understaffing issues many times throughout my career but I never gave much thought to how my situational awareness was being […]

Administrative chiefs and emergency responses

I recently received an email from a firefighter asking for my opinion as to whether or not the administrative chief officers in his department should respond to reported structure fires. My initial response was: “Well, Duh! Yes!” But then I got to thinking about it more. How and when administrative chief officers respond to fires […]

No SOPs = No Game Plan

  I have many opportunities to talk with first responders about the importance of having Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs). These documents are essential to the safety of responders because they set the standard for training and for incident operations.        

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 […]

Situational Awareness of Your Weakest Link

It has often been said: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” [tweet this] This is true. Regardless of how fortified the individual links are, when the chain is stressed under a load, the breaking point will be the weakest link. The same can be said of situational awareness at an emergency scene. […]

We Must Stop The Insanity: Part 4

Welcome to the fourth and final article in the We Must Stop The Insanity situational awareness series. In case you missed the previous three articles (which I encourage you to go back and read) or if you need a refresher, indulge me as I do a little recap. In Part 1, I talked about flawed […]

We Must Stop The Insanity: Part 3

Welcome to the third article in the four-part We Must Stop The Insanity situational awareness series. In case you missed the previous two articles (which I encourage you to go back and read) or if you need a refresher, indulge me as I do a little recap. In Part 1, I talked about flawed size-ups. […]

The “Minor” Mayday

Is there such a thing? A “Minor” Mayday. [tweet this] A crew operating in an IDLH environment suddenly find themselves in a tough spot because _____ (you insert the reason). The crew leader’s situational awareness is, at least at that moment, strong as he or she immediately realizes the potential gravity of the situation and […]

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