Staffing Levels Impact Situational Awareness

Research has demonstrated that, without question, stress can have significant impacts on situational awareness (SA). Stress can narrow your attention, cause task fixation, contribute to heightened awareness of non-critical information (at the detriment of more critical information) and so much more. As stress erodes situational awareness, it can also impact decision making. The research I […]

When Budgets Impact Staffing, Tactics Must Change

Throughout the fire service there are departments whose staffing has been reduced as a result of budget cuts. That is not going to come as a shock to most readers. What has been shocking for me, however, has been the response to my question of what fire department leaders are doing to ensure the situational […]

Unpredictable staffing: A barrier to situational awareness

The process of developing situational awareness starts with capturing information using the five senses. Then, the information must be understood. And finally, once the information is understood, a prediction is made about future outcomes. This process can be challenged when staffing is unpredictable.

Understaffing Impacts Situational Awareness

Understaffing can have a big impact on first responder safety. We all know that. But it can also have a huge impact on first responder situational awareness. More than I ever imagined. I have experienced understaffing issues many times throughout my career but I never gave much thought to how my situational awareness was being […]

Five Best Practices for Managing the Mental Workload

The research I have conducted on the neuroscience of situational awareness and high-risk decision making has been fascinating and extremely enlightening to me. Over the past 12 years, it has been very rewarding to take the lessons of research and apply them for the benefit of first responders. For those who have attended one of […]

Firefighting: It’s a whole new ballgame

There is little doubt the economic recession of 2008-2009 had a significant impact on the nation’s fire service. Hardly a day went by where there wasn’t some news about an organization that downsized, rightsized or capsized. There are all kinds of terms being attached to what happened. One I heard at the time was this […]

Dispatchers Role in Situational Awareness

One of the situational awareness best practices discussed during the Fifty Ways to Kill a First Responder program is the role played by the dispatcher during an emergency incident. As I have discussed this many times with first responders throughout the United States I have come to the conclusion that in some jurisdictions the dispatcher […]

The Myth of Multitasking and Situational Awareness

Think you’re good at multitasking? If so, you are just fooling yourself. Or, perhaps more aptly stated, your brain is fooling you. Multitasking is simply a way for us to be tricked into doing a whole bunch of things, poorly, all at the same time. When it comes to managing attention, the human brain cannot […]

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 […]

No SOPs = No Game Plan

  I have many opportunities to talk with first responders about the importance of having Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs). These documents are essential to the safety of responders because they set the standard for training and for incident operations. [clickandtweet handle=”RichGasaway” hashtag=”#situationalawareness” related=”samatters” layout=”” position=””]Let’s look at why SOPs or […]

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