Situational Awareness: Think Past, Present & Future

Flawed situational awareness (SA) is one of the leading contributing factors to first responder near-miss and casualty events. In fact, it is nearly impossible to find a line-of-duty death investigation report that does not implicate flawed SA, or one of the barriers that flaw SA, as contributing to the tragedy. As often as flawed SA […]

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 […]

Ignoring the Signs of Danger

A lesson on situational awareness: The tones drop for a reported residential fire. On the way, dispatch reports multiple calls, confirming a working fire. On arrival the crew sees fire blowing out the B-C corner of the single story, detached residential. The resident is standing in the front yard. A quick inquiry reveals they are […]

Confirmation Bias Impacts Situational Awareness

The foundation of situational awareness is capturing clues and cues in your environment – what some would call “paying attention” – and then making sense of those clues and cues – what some would call “understanding” – and then making projections of future events – what some would call “prediction.” One of the challenges in the […]

Teaching Situational Awareness and Decision Making

Situational awareness is the foundation for good decision making. Situational awareness is formed by observing… and understanding what is happening in your environment, in the context of how time is passing. That “understanding” is then used to make predictions of future events. For those who have attended my full-day situational awareness classes you know this […]

Begin With The End In Mind

One of the essential components of well-developed situational awareness is being able to accurately predict the future. This prediction should be made during the initial scene size up and then it should be updated often as the incident progresses. In this segment, the need to begin with the end in mind will be explored and […]

Another False Alarm: A Tale of Complacency

Complacency is a big deal for first responders because it impacts your situational awareness on multiple levels. I would like to give every responder the benefit of the doubt that if or when they have found him or herself being complacent that it wasn’t happening on purpose. In other words, I hope every responder desires […]

5 Tips For Improving Situational Awareness Through Training

The overall number of structure fires are down nationwide. For the sake of the citizens we protect, this is a good thing. But for the sake of firefighters who need to gain valuable experience through the proverbial baptism by fire, this isn’t such a good thing. I often get asked by company officers and trainers […]

Explanations for Situational Awareness Insanity – Part 4

  This article continues the series focusing on the seemingly-insane things that some first responders do while operating in high-stress, high-consequence environments. Oftentimes, the individuals trying to make sense of these behaviors are quick to judge those on the sharp of the decision by saying things like: “They weren’t paying attention?” or “How could they […]

Explanations for Situational Awareness Insanity – Part 3

This series is focused on the seemingly insane things that first responders do while operating in high-stress, high-consequence environments. Oftentimes, those trying to make sense of these behaviors are quick to judge the participants, saying things like: “How could they be so stupid?” or “What were they thinking?” or perhaps the worst one of all […]

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