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 […]

First, Do No Harm!

Primum non nocere is the Latin phrase that means “first, do no harm.” This is a commonly taught principle in healthcare. In fact, the Hippocratic Oath, taken by doctors, promises they will abstain from doing harm to their patients. The premise is it may be better to NOT do something or to do nothing at […]

Don’t shoot the messenger

Situational awareness is developed by combining three component parts: perception, understanding and prediction. The first part, perception, is a process of gathering information – clues and cues – about what is happening in the environment around you. Some of those clues and cues are obvious. Others are subtle. Some happen right in front of you. […]

Come down off the high perch of judgment

At the start of the Flawed Situational Awareness program I share a story about my early years as a company officer and subsequently as a command-level officer. Even in those days (more than 30 years ago), I held a deep desire to learn from failure and catastrophe. I read every near-miss and casualty report I […]

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 […]

Aggressiveness and Situational Awareness

I was recently contacted by email from a Situational Awareness Matters member asking if aggressiveness and safety can co-exist at an emergency scene. My answer was “of course they can.” The two actions, being safe and being aggressive are not mutually exclusive. To think they are is to believe responders must sacrifice safety when they […]

Actions of the first-in officer

During a recent Flawed Situational awareness program, I engaged the class in a discussion of what the actions of the first-in officer should be once the decision is made to be offensive/interior. The choices were: a.) Make entry with the crew; b.) Establish a fixed command position outside and send the crew in without the […]

Ten Things to Develop Situational Readiness

This website is dedicated to improving situational awareness of first responders. The precursor to situational awareness is situational readiness. I define situational readiness as: Having the ability to anticipate what things need to be in place to be well-prepared for an emergency response; and then, taking the steps necessary to ensure those things are done […]

Defensive Decision Making

The decision to be defensive or to transition tactics from offensive to defensive at a structure fire requires strong situational awareness [tweet this]   and it may be one of the hardest decisions a commander can make. The difficulty with this decision is not rooted in tactical shortcomings. The problem more fundamental.

Complacency – a barrier to situational awareness

We develop and maintain situational awareness by being perceptive about what is happening around us. To be perceptive, we must pay attention to what is going on in our environment. We can employ all of our senses to help us pay attention – seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. However, if we let our guard […]

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