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Episode 23: Situational Awareness lessons learned when three feet from death – Part 2

Situational Awareness MattersOn this episode I continue the interview with Captain John Lightly. John as served as a member of the Youngstown, Ohio Fire Department for 13 years. Youngstown FD has 8 stations and a sworn strength of 135 firefighters. John’s married and has twin daughters who are in 3rd grade. So you can imagine how exciting… and hectic John’s life is. I really appreciate him sitting down with me and sharing his close call survivor story where he almost died as a result of being caught in a flashover. For reasons that will become obvious during the interview, I title this episode “3 feet from death” and dedicate to all the firefighters who’ve been caught in a flashover and did not live to tell their story.

Length: 61 minutes
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Click the “Continue Reading” link below to access the show notes.

On October 8, 2009 at 0306 hours, the Youngstown, Ohio Fire Department was dispatched for a fire that would prove to be nearly fatal for (then Lieutenant – Acting Captain) John Lightly. Listen in as John shares powerful lessons that chronicles how he ended up, alone, in this single family residential dwelling conducting a primary search for victims. In this two-part story, you will learn:Situational Awareness Matters

  • How John conducted his size up and made a determination, based on clues and cues that formed his situational awareness, that there was a high probability the house was occupied.
  • How the flashover occurred within two minutes of entry – a recurring theme I see at flashover casualty incidents.
  • How communications challenges influenced understanding among crew members.
  • How John experienced TachyPsychia – or a slowing down of time when the flashover occurred.
  • Listen to John describe how he felt intuition – in the form of a sick feeling in his gut – and a feeling that someone had punched him in the stomach.Situational Awareness Matters
  • John will also talk about self-speak – the neurological phenomenon where we talk to ourselves during high consequence situations – only John doesn’t call it self-speak. I’ll let him explain.
  • How John’s entry the first two times were under the premise of assuming the risk of being a firefighter. Yet he admits his entry the third time – he was creating risk… not assuming it.

The mission of Situational Awareness Matters is simple: Help first responders see the bad things coming… in time to prevent bad outcomes.

Safety begins with SA! 

Share your comments on this article in the “Leave a Reply” box below. If you want to send me incident pictures, videos or have an idea you’d like me to research and write about, contact me. I really enjoy getting feedback and supportive messages from fellow first responders. It gives me the energy to work harder for you.



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