These are articles on the SAMatters blog.

Physical Condition Assessments Improve Situational Awareness

One of the primary purposes of a Personnel Accountability Report (PAR) is to ensure that the incident commander and safety officer knows where crews are and that all members are accounted for. In the event of a rapid change in conditions or an unforeseen turn of events, the PAR can be used to quickly account …

Physical Condition Assessments Improve Situational Awareness Read More »

Situational Awareness Matters!

Time to Task Completion is Critical for Situational Awareness

Your highest level of situational awareness is formed when you are able to make accurate predictions about future events. In science, we call this projection and it simply means you are able to predict, or project, future events. This is accomplished through mental models you develop that are founded in your training and experience. But …

Time to Task Completion is Critical for Situational Awareness Read More »

What You Don’t See Can Save You

I dedicate a lot of time during my situational awareness programs ensuring that first responders understand how clues and cues serve as the foundation for developing and maintaining good situational awareness. We also spend considerable time making the connection of how strong situational awareness becomes the foundation for good decision making. For the most part, …

What You Don’t See Can Save You Read More »

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 …

Situational Awareness: Think Past, Present & Future Read More »

The Normalization of Deviance

It’s an odd term… normalization of deviance. But the term and the premise behind the term provides a valuable explanation as to some of the behaviors we observe in the first responder world. Defining the terms Normalization: To make normal; to make an established standard. Deviance: Departing from the norm; performing in a non-standardized way. …

The Normalization of Deviance Read More »

Three types of stress

In this article, we discuss three types of stress: Acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. First responders can, and often do, experience all three. Stress can impact firefighter situational awareness and, equally concerning, stress can have devastating long-term impacts. As I was writing this article I recalled various times during my thirty years …

Three types of stress Read More »

Weapons of Mass Distraction

The foundation for developing situational awareness is perception – using your senses to gather information about what is happening around you. In lay terms, we call it paying attention. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to develop strong situational awareness if you are not paying attention to what is happening around you. For better …

Weapons of Mass Distraction Read More »

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 …

Understaffing Impacts Situational Awareness Read More »

The Overconfident Incompetent

There are four levels of progression a person goes through in the development of competence. The pathway begins with a complete unawareness of how little a person knows and progresses to a complete unawareness of how much a person knows. There is a dangerous cognitive phenomenon that can occur along this continuum known as the …

The Overconfident Incompetent Read More »