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Episode 21: Situational awareness lessons shared by a first responder struck by a car

Situational Awareness Matters RadioOn this episode I interview Sean Balantic. After serving 6 years active duty as a United States Marine, Sean served as a federal firefighter prior to being employed by the Rochester, New York Fire Department where he has served for almost 7 years. Sean is assigned as a firefighter on Truck 3. In this interview, Sean shares his close call survivor story where he was struck by a car at an incident scene and has been off-work for nearly 3 months.

The episode begins with some exciting announcements about improvements coming to the Situational Awareness Matters community of learners, including: A rollout of the newly revised SAMatters Online Academy (adding the feature for departments to sign-up all their members for one price), a free class give away for new members, and the creation of a premium membership option on the website that will offer a whole host of features to improve safety and situational awareness. Watch the website for announcements.

Length: 37 minutes
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If you are interested in taking your understanding of situational awareness and high-risk decision making to a higher level, check out the Situational Awareness Matters Online Academy.
CLICK HERE for details, enrollment options and pricing.


Click the “Continue Reading” link below to access the show notes.

I’m uber excited to share with you an announcement about some really valuable features we are going to be adding for the benefit of the Situational Awareness Matters community.


First, as many of you know, about a year ago we launched the Situational Awareness Matters Online Academy. The feedback from the students was awesome and we’ve taken your great ideas and rolled them into an updated version of the Academy. One of the features will allow a department to enroll their entire membership into the academy. Previously, the only enrollment option was for individuals. We are adding more video content and more audio content. The Academy is THE most affordable way to get your entire department dialed on the critical skills of developing and maintaining situational awareness while working in high risk, high consequence environments. So, watch for the announcement of the new Academy on the SAMatters website.


The current SAMatters website has a free membership where visitors can opt-in and receive a monthly newsletter. And thank you to the more than 3,000 visitors who have signed up for that free service. We are going to “up the game” to grow our membership community. Coming soon, new members will receive a FREE 90-day class that teaches the fundamentals of situational awareness. This class was previously sold for $99. It’s now going to be given to new members for free.


Current members will continue to receive the free newsletter. Coming soon, however, we are going to introduce a premium membership. And I’m REALLY excited about this. For an annual fee of $108 (that’s 9 a month)… premium members are going to receive:


– Monthly situational awareness audio and video messages.

– Free Audio downloads of blog articles so you can listen to them on the fly.

– Free transcriptions of the podcast radio shows so you can reference the podcast radio show content in your teachings.

– Exclusive content in the monthly newsletter

– Significant discounts on all books and videos on the website.

– On going discounts on Academy tuition

– Free Webinars

– Free access to an online mastermind forum

– Free teleseminars

– Access to course outlines

– Access to exclusive interviews with thought leaders in health and safety.

– And… this is very cool… we are working on the technology that will allow premium members to sign up for… and attend select live classroom programs via streaming video or audio link-up

– All for $9 a month.


Watch the SAMatters website for the announcement because when I roll this out I’m going to offer some introductory specials.


We have been working REALLY hard and listening to your great feedback about how to add value for our community and increase the ways you can improve your situational awareness. Watch for these exciting changes coming to Situational Awareness Matters.


Situational Awareness Matters RadioOn 6/2/14 while on an emergency Sean was removing a pike pole from the rear of his truck when a car coming from the front to the rear of his apparatus, moving very quickly toward him. Using what he termed, good situational awareness, he anticipated and saw the car. As soon as the car cleared the rear bumper of the apparatus, it struck Sean.


Sean has been out of work for a little over two months now with lower back and hip problems.  Even though he was struck, he believe that having good situational awareness prevented the incident from being an even worse outcome.  As Sean noted, while you may have good situational awareness you many still not see bad things coming.


The lessons you’ll learn include:


  1. Sean had all of his PPE with reflective trim on, the fire apparatus has all it’s warning lights on, and yet, the driver seemingly did not see the firefighter.
  2. How important it is to be cautious of civilian vehicles while operating on roadway surfaces. And, while Sean believed he had strong situational awareness, he was still struck by the vehicle.
  3. How surprised he was at how the stress of being hit by the vehicle threw off his mental capacities and impacted his rational judgment and decision making.
  4. A review of some of the potential reasons why a person driving a vehicle may not see you. Some of them are obvious (distracted, fatigued, texting, impaired, etc.) But what if a person was blind. Blind? Yes, blind! This episode will explain how a driver can be blinded by something we do all the time at incident scenes.

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