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These are articles on the SAMatters blog.

Tracking of Personnel

Accountability: A critically important component of emergency scene safety when personnel operates in a hazardous environment. From the perspective of situational awareness, accountability plays several roles. The obvious role is personnel accountability facilitates the rapid deployment of rescue teams if something goes awry. Command knows the crew sizes and where they are operating and can …

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Unexpected Information Can Be a Barrier to Situational Awareness

One of the foundations of situational awareness development is being able to make accurate predictions of future events. Making (accurate) predictions is a fairly complex neurological process that relies heavily on gathering information, comprehending the meaning of the information, tapping into your stored knowledge of past experiences, trusting your intuition and using your imagination to …

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The Impact of Oversharing on Situational Awareness

Have you ever been around someone who takes twenty minutes to tell a five-minute story? What does that do to you? I know what it does to me. It lowers my vigilance (i.e., the amount of attention I am channeling to them), it can cause me to become frustrated, bored, tune them out and find …

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The Communications Specialist Role in Forming Situational Awareness

Some of the least appreciated members of the emergency response team are the communications specialists (in some venues, termed dispatchers). How do I know this? First, I served as a communications specialist (my job title was dispatcher) early in my career and I was routinely subjected to criticism and ridicule from responders because the information …

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Big Data Could Spell Big Trouble

There is a lot being written these days about how “big data” can help emergency scene commanders improve situational awareness and, subsequently, make better decisions. While information (data) is critical to the formation of situational awareness, it is very easy for a commander to become overwhelmed with data. I say this often during my Mental …

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It’s Only A Vehicle Fire!

I’d like to thank one of the loyal Situational Awareness Matters readers (whose name and department I am holding in confidence) for sending me a picture and a story about a van fire, no, a ‘routine van fire‘ his department had recently. On the arrival of the engine, the officer reported a working fire and …

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Commanders in Turnout Gear

I recently read, with great interest, a very long thread on Facebook about whether or not an incident commander should wear turnout gear at a fire scene. As my focus and passion is improving first responder situational awareness, I would like to address this issue from that perspective. The feedback on Facebook was, as expected, …

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Mission Myopia

The tones drop for an apartment building fire. On the way, dispatch is advising multiple calls, confirming a working fire and the possibility of people trapped. The mind of the officer on the aerial platform is busy processing – thinking – anticipating – what will need to be done upon arrival? Of course, truck work …

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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 …

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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 …

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