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 believe his eyes.

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Radio Communications is Essential to Situational Awareness

Police Tactical TrainingI was invited to be an observer at a regional police tactical training exercise. The program was a multi-day event, starting with some classroom training and culminating in a series of simulations using mock weapons, flash-bangs and actors. The one thing that readily stood out to me was the tactical teams were not using radios to communicate.

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Shared Situational Awareness

Shared situational awareness simply means two or more people have a commonly understood mental model (mental image of what’s happening… and what is going to happen in the future). When responders arrive at the scene of an emergency at different times (which is common), there is a risk that each person arriving will have a different understanding of what is happening because the information (clues and cues) have changed.

This can put responders at risk if they think they have a common understanding of what’s going on, when in reality, they don’t because the information has changed.

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Posted in Attention Management, Situational awareness, Teamwork, Workload Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The irrational obsession with loss

Situational Awareness MattersThere is a growing body of research revealing that many human’s have an irrational obsession with loss. Or, perhaps more accurately, an irrational obsession with AVOIDING loss. This phenomenon is something I have seen played out in my evaluation of many casualty incidents. Ironically, the human trait to avoid loss is the same trait that can lead to a firefighter casualty. Let’s investigate this irrational human obsession – avoiding loss.

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Posted in Complacency, Crew Resource Management, Culture, Decision Making, Ego and Self-Esteem, Fear, firefighter situational awareness, Leadership, Mayday and RIT, Safety, Situational awareness, Stress | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confabulation: It sounds better than lying

Situational Awareness Matters!Confabulation may sound better than lying, but it’s no less dangerous. One of the most amazing demonstrations I do during my situational awareness programs is to show how a person, when placed under stress, will lie. Only in science, we don’t call it lying, we call it confabulation. You won’t do it on purpose but you may do it, nonetheless, and if you do it can have a significant impact on your situational awareness and the situational awareness of those you are telling your untrue stories to. So I want to explore this brain phenomenon with you here.

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Posted in Communications, Confabulation, Crew Resource Management, Decision Making, firefighter situational awareness, Human Behavior, Neuroscience, Safety, Situational awareness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tired Brains and Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness Matters!I get asked often about the role of fatigue in situational awareness. Sometimes the question is based on general curiosity. Sometimes the inquiry is a result of someone seeking support for (or against) an extended work schedule. I sure don’t want to get caught in the middle of that debate but the question is a good one. Does fatigue impact situational awareness?

I don’t know of any specific studies that link situational awareness to levels of fatigue. However, there is a lot of research that links fatigue to lower levels of physical and mental performance. That’s what I want to talk about here.

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Posted in Attention Management, Crew Resource Management, Decision Making, Fatigue, firefighter situational awareness, Human Behavior, human factors, Neuroscience, Safety, Situational awareness, Stress | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Situational Awareness in Hoarder Homes

Situational Awareness Matters!Firefighter-Paramedic Ryan Pennington with the Charleston (WV) Fire Department has been conducting extensive research on the epidemic problem of emergencies in hoarder homes. Emergencies including everything from fires to EMS calls to animal hoarding issues – the whole gamut. Ryan has also developed a knock-out program on hoarder home fires. If you’re jurisdiction is having problems with hoarder home fires, Ryan’s program may be just what you need. Let’s see what Ryan has to say in this guest article on “Heavy Content” Hoarder Homes.

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Posted in building construction, Decision Making, firefighter situational awareness, Human Behavior, human factors, Safety, Situational awareness, size-up, Stress | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Situational Awareness Tour Stop at FDIC

Flawed Situational Awareness BarriersThanks to everyone who got connected with me at the 2014 Fire Department Instructor’s Conference in Indianapolis last week. The conference and all the programs were amazing (as always).

I am grateful to Bobby Halton, Diane Rothschild, Cindy Huse, Tommy Grigg, Marla Patterson and the entire Fire Engineering/PennWell team for the opportunity to contribute.

The program delivered this year was a new offering of the situational awareness message.

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Posted in firefighter situational awareness, Gasaway Consulting Group, Safety, Situational awareness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On-Line Academy

Promotional video created for  Situational Awareness Matters.
(Click on the crest to watch the video)

CLICK HERE for more information about Academy content and how to sign up.

OnLine Academy Crest

Posted in firefighter situational awareness, Gasaway Consulting Group, Safety, Situational awareness, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resilient Problem Solvers

Situational Awareness Matters!Perhaps you’re going to think I’ve been out in the South Carolina sun too long when you read this proclamation: I want you to make more mistakes! What? It’s true, I do. But before you stop reading this article out of distain for such an absurd statement, please gift me just five minutes of your time to understand, from the perspective of neuroscience, why I want you to fail more.

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Posted in Culture, Decision Making, firefighter situational awareness, Human Behavior, Mental Models, Neuroscience, Repetition, Safety, Situational awareness, Situational Readiness, Standard Operating Procedures/Guidelines, Teamwork, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments