Expect the Unexpected and Improve Your Situational Awareness

The advice “expect the unexpected” can lead to a great deal of criticism. [tweet this] For example, if one can expect something to happen, then it is (technically) no longer unexpected…and so on. Setting all the hair-splitting aside, to expect the unexpected is to anticipate the possibilities of events occurring in advance of them actually […]

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 […]

Creatures of Habit

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that we are creatures of habit. The more we do something over and over again, the more likely that behavior will be turned into a habit. But what happens in the mystical world of the brain when a behavior becomes a habit? Is your behavior under stress predictable? Rational? Understandable? […]

Two Key Ways to Improve Learning and Recall

Is there a role for humor while training first responders on critical, life-saving, skills?[tweet this] The flight attendant begins dolling out the obligatory, in fact, federally mandated, pre-flight safety instructions. If you’re a frequent flyer, your situational awareness is probably pretty low. You know the routine and it’s boring. If you’re an infrequent flyer, the […]

The “Minor” Mayday

Is there such a thing? A “Minor” Mayday. [tweet this] A crew operating in an IDLH environment suddenly find themselves in a tough spot because _____ (you insert the reason). The crew leader’s situational awareness is, at least at that moment, strong as he or she immediately realizes the potential gravity of the situation and […]

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 […]

Safeguards – It’s a fair question

I had the opportunity today to talk with a very progressive fire chief about situational awareness. I really enjoy my conversations with him because I always learn something. He was telling me that his department just hired 17 new paid-on-call members. He shared with me that during the hiring process he visits the home of […]

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High Reliability Organizations – Traits

There’s a lot being talked about these days about the concept of high reliability organizations. The concept is being embraced by many hospitals throughout the United States and, arguably, for good reason. The principles of highly reliable organizations have direct application to first responders. This contribution focuses on helping you understand the overarching concept of […]

Understanding Stress – Part 4: Hyper Vigilance

Welcome to part four of the series on understanding stress. In the first three segments I talked about the various kinds of stress first responders can experience. For seasoned veterans, the information shared likely served as a good review. For newer members, it may have alerted you to the stressors that may challenge your situational […]