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Meta Awareness & Situational Awareness

Meta Awareness


Meta awareness means being consciously aware of your own awareness. I know that sounds redundant, so let me explain. One of the things responders need to understand is that situational awareness is fragile.

Situational awareness can be lost in ways that are so subtle that it may erode before a responder even realizes it is gone. The solution may be in developing meta awareness. Here’s how you can develop meta awareness…

Get a ClueIn order to have situational awareness, it is first important to understand what it is and how to develop it. Situational awareness is developed by capturing clues and cues (called perception). Then the clues and cues are processed into meaning (called comprehension). Finally, the highest level of situational awareness is predicting the future events.



To have meta awareness means being consciously aware of whether you are doing all three (perception, comprehension, and projection). When you’re busy performing tasks in a high-stress, high-consequence environment it can be difficult to remember the process to develop and maintain situational awareness. Reminding yourself of the levels of SA is a powerful way to help you maintain it.


Chief Gasaway’s Advice

SolutionsYou can develop meta awareness in several ways. The easiest way is to create a visual prompt, like having “How is my situational awareness?” written on your command worksheet. Better yet, list all three steps and continually ask yourself how you’re doing. Alternatively, you can memorize and practice mental situational awareness prompts. To be able to do this, you’ll need to memorize the levels, so rehearse it so often that you can recite them as quickly as the alphabet.



Action Items

  1. Situational Awareness Matters!What would you expect to be the first indication you are losing your situational awareness at an emergency scene?
  2. If you thought you were losing your situational awareness, what would you do to regain it?
  3. Which level of situational awareness do you think causes the most problems? Why?


The mission of Situational Awareness Matters is simple: Help first responders see the bad things coming… in time to change the outcome.

Safety begins with SA! 


Share your comments on this article in the “Leave a Reply” box below. If you want to send me incident pictures, videos or have an idea you’d like me to research and write about, contact me. I really enjoy getting feedback and supportive messages from fellow first responders. It gives me the energy to work harder for you.




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2 thoughts on “Meta Awareness & Situational Awareness”

  1. Pingback: Meta-idiot’s guide to meta – The LeEMS Bean

  2. Pingback: Meta-idiot’s guide to meta – The LeEMS Machine

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