Frustration – A barrier to situational awareness

Have you ever found yourself so frustrated at an individual or a situation that you become fixated on that issue? When this happens, oftentimes, we become hyper focused on the individual or the situation and can lose awareness of the bigger picture. When this occurs, critical clues and cues, essential to the formation of situational […]

Flawed Expectations of Personnel Can Impact Situational Awareness

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 […]

Episode 205 | Frustration

This episode examines how frustration can impact your situational awareness.  Length: 27 minutes             click the YouTube icon to listen       __________________________________________________ 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. […]

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 […]

Flawed Situational Awareness: A stealth killer – Live Training

Flawed Situational Awareness: A stealth killer Program Length: 4-8 hours Appropriate for: First Responders (Fire, Police, EMS) Supervisors Trainers Training Program Managers Safety Professionals Program Description This program shares the powerful findings of Dr. Gasaway’s extensive research on issues related to first responder decision making and flawed situational awareness.  In his review of hundreds of near-miss […]

A Recipe From Hell’s Kitchen – Part 4

In  this segment of the Recipe From Hell’s Kitchen series, I share the fourth step of the recipe – complacency – and more specifically letting your safety guard down and how it can result in failure to learn, implement and practice nationally accepted best practices. As complacency sets in, an organization can lose its inertia and its […]

Completing the 360-Degree Size-Up

Situational awareness starts with capturing clues and cues in your environment (perception) and then understanding what those clues and cues mean (comprehension). At a structure fire the process of capturing information should involve a complete 360-degree size-up of the scene. Many departments have policies that stipulate the completion of a 360-degree size up. Yet, for […]

Seven ways frustration can impact situational awareness

Anyone who’s been frustrated knows it can consume a lot of your mental energy and thinking space. This can significantly impact your situational awareness. In fact, depending on the level of frustration, your brain can be hijacked by  all-consuming thoughts about what is causing the angst. While operating at an emergency scene, frustration may draw […]

Nine considerations when evaluating incident command software

As you attend conferences that have vendor display areas, pay attention to how many incident management software vendors claim to have programs that can “develop situational awareness” in first responders. This claim is often founded on the belief that as the software is able to capture, assemble and display layers and layers of data that, […]


It’s not something talked about often in first responder circles – overstaffing. Far more often the focus is on issues of understaffing which, coincidentally, can be a significant barrier to situational awareness and can have a catastrophic impact on safety. There can be, on occasion, scenarios where an incident scene ends up having too many […]

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