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.

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 […]

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 […]

Team Situational Awareness

This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation as we talk about assessing your team to identify your weak links – the members who are not adequately trained, prepared or fit to perform the duties of a firefighter. During my SA programs we talk about the need to complete a situational awareness “size-up” of the […]

Task Saturation Impacts Situational Awareness

There’s no doubt that in dynamically changing, high-risk, high-consequence environments someone could be called upon to perform many varied tasks, some at the same time. When staffing levels are low, the likelihood of this situation can increases significantly. The problem this creates is the brain does not perform well when task saturated, especially in stressful […]