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The Dave Martin Story – Flashback to Episode 45 – SAM 343

On August 11, 2007, Captain Martin and his partner were over run by a fast-moving wildland fire. On retreat, his partner became entangled on a barbed wire fence. Captain Martin used a utility knife to cut away his partner’s ensnarled clothing and they both narrowly escaped death.




Dave Martin’s crew was assigned to the task of keeping the wildland fire from jumping Highway 97.  Around 2100, Captain Martin and a member of the tribal fire management team were assigned to conduct a back-burn operation along the highway.


Unexpectedly, the fire blew up on them, eventually consuming 1,200 acres. While on a retreat from the fast moving fire, Captain Martin’s partner become entangled on a barbed wire fence. While being over run by hot embers and heavy smoke, Captain Martin used a utility knife to cut away his partner’s ensnarled clothing and they both narrowly escaped death.


Listen in as Dave shares his lessons learned that include:


  1. The need to trust your intuition – your gut feel when it tells you something is not right.
  2. The importance of standing your ground when you feel a mistake is being made by your partner.
  3. The consequences of overlooking critical clues and cues that indicate conditions are changing.
  4. How task fixation and mission myopia and serve as barriers that impact your situational awareness and flaw your decision making.

Length: 49 Minutes

Click the YouTube meme to watch the full episode

About the Host

Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, CSP is widely considered a trusted authority on human factors, situational awareness and the high-risk decision making processes used in high-stress, high consequence work environments. He served 33 years on the front lines as a firefighter, EMT-Paramedic, company officer, training officer, fire chief and emergency incident commander.  His doctoral research included the study of cognitive neuroscience to understand how human factors flaw situational awareness and impact high-risk decision making.


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