The topic of situational awareness is growing in popularity in the fire service and this is a good thing. For decades the casualty reports have revealed that flawed situational awareness leads to poor decision making and has contributed to tragic fireground outcomes. I am honored to see many of the teachings being shared here on the SAMatters website (and in my books and videos) are becoming part of mainstream teachings for firefighters. But I have some concerns as well.
On July 5, 2013, the Spokane Fire Department responded to a reported commercial building fire at the Mayfair Professional Building, located at 5901 North Mayfair. Within two minutes of the alarm, the first arriving company found light smoke coming from the area of the HVAC units in the side of the building. The structure was a Type 5 construction, two-story structure with a basement. The fire progressed quickly, nearly trapping crews on the first floor and in the basement.
Length: 60 Minutes
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 your attention away with purposeful intent (like the ringing of your cell phone, an incoming text message or someone coming up to talk to you). Both distractions and interruptions can have an impact on situational awareness.
On this episode, I interview technology guru Darrell O’Donnell. Darrell runs a successful technology coaching and consulting firm where he works to bridge the gap between technology experts and first responders.
Darrell has a special passion for technology that helps first responders develop, maintain and improve situational awareness by providing rapid access to critical information that can aid in decision making. SPECIAL NOTE: This episode was recorded in Ottawa, just two days before a gunman killed a soldier and then stormed the Parliament and was killed by police. I was in Ottawa attending a research symposium at the Westin Hotel adjacent to the memorial where the soldier was killed. At the bottom of the show notes I will include a few pictures from the memorial in Ottawa.
Length: 49 Minutes
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You may recall from earlier discussions that situational awareness is formed by gathering information about what is happening in the environment around you. Then, your brain takes that information and attempts to form an understanding of what it all means. Finally, after understanding what it means, you make predictions of future events.
This is a high-level, simplistic overview of how situational awareness is formed. I encourage you to read some of the past articles where I go in more depth. But for the sake of this discussion, I don’t want to get into too much detail on how situational awareness is formed.
This article is dedicated to discussing how weather can impact situational awareness.
On this episode, I interview Jeff Dill from the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance and Fire Chief (ret.) Les Karpluk who operates Genesis 2020 Solutions, a leadership teaching and consulting company located in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. This interview focuses on a topic we are all going to face one day – leaving the fire service. We talk about the emotional challenges and opportunities we face when leaving the fire service. Jeff is retiring in January, 2015. Les retired in 2014. This podcast topic was inspired by my own journey and struggles and I climbed down the career ladder and the subsequent program that I created to help others prepare for their life after the fire service.
Length: 49 Minutes
You develop situational awareness by using your senses to capture information (Level 1 situational awareness). Those clues and cues are then processed into understanding (Level 2 situational awareness). Once you understand what is happening, you can then make predictions of future events (Level 3 situational awareness). This article focuses on the third level of situational awareness, making predictions (forming expectations about future events).
On this episode, I interview Fire Chief Gord Schreiner and he shares valuable lessons from his “Safe and Efficient Scene Management Class” which by many departments throughout Canada has become known as the “StopBad” program.
Length: 57 Minutes
It is amazing how many articles and videos I have read and watched lately in which they are talking about decision making based on “gut feel.” It is also disheartening how many first responders I have interviewed who have admitted to me that they have dismissed their gut feelings and proceeded to do things that resulted in bad outcomes. Let’s explore the origins of intuition.
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On this episode, I interview Firefighter John Dantuono of the Lakeside (New York) Fire Department. Lakeside is located west of Syracuse. The all-volunteer fire department serves a population of about 15,000. Listen in as John discusses how he responded to a mutual aid residential dwelling fire and fell through a weakened floor. As he notes, the only thing that kept him from falling all the way through was his SCBA.
Length: 45 minutes
Click the “Continue Reading” link below to access the show notes.