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Missing puzzle pieces

The formation of situational awareness begins with perception. What you perceive becomes the foundation for understanding. What you understand then becomes the primer for prediction: Perception – Understanding – Prediction. This is how situational awareness is formed. Let’s explore one of the barriers to situational awareness that can occur if you shortcut the size-up process. […]

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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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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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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,

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Using the Simulation Environment to Improve Situational Awareness

Many first responder training programs use simulation in the development of decision-making competencies. Simulation exercises help develop skills in setting strategy and tactics, in applying policies and procedures and in developing critical thinking skills. How can simulations be used in the development of situational awareness skills? The answer lies, in part, in understanding what situational

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Understanding Stress – Part 5: Tunnel Vision

Welcome to Part 5 of my discussion on stress. In the last segment I talked about the positive and negative impacts of hyper vigilance and its impact on situational awareness. While stress-released hormones increase arousal of the senses, the brain struggles to process all the information coming in. If you try to process the meaning

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Fifteen Situational Awareness Barriers

The mission of Situational Awareness Matters is to help you see the bad things coming… in time to change bad outcomes. SA is a complex neurological process and I go to painstaking efforts to ensure that what I teach here, on the podcast and in classrooms is “first responder friendly.” I don’t ever want a

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Confirmation Bias Impacts Situational Awareness

The foundation of situational awareness is capturing clues and cues in your environment – what some would call “paying attention” – and then making sense of those clues and cues – what some would call “understanding” – and then making projections of future events – what some would call “prediction.” One of the challenges in the

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Communications Overload Impacts Situational Awareness

In reading casualty reports you will often see issues related to communications as a contributing factor. Miscommunications, lack of communications or too much radio traffic (to include overloaded radio channels) are often cited. It is the last of these issues I want to address. There is an inherent cognitive consequence from too much communications that

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Duty to Die Syndrome

I recently sent out a message across my social media networks (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) about bravado being a barrier to situational awareness. The message, in case you missed it, read: Bravado: The purposeful ignorance of critical signs of danger coupled with a sense of invincibility. A barrier to situational awareness.  First responders sometimes confuse

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