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Complacency: A Lesson Worth Sharing – The Eric Wappel Story – 390



Captain Eric Wappel shares a tale of complacency and how he faced it head-on with his department.

On January 3, 2022, the North Judson – Wayne Township Fire Department was dispatched for the second time to the same residence for a “furnace smoking.” Captain Eric Wappel wasn’t available for the first response, but responded to the second call. 

He recalls thinking to himself, from the get go, this was another “BS” call since the department was just at this address two hours earlier.

Eric says he was complacent, which led him to leaving his radio strap and his Nomex hood at the station because we are just going to tell the occupants (again) that everything is OK.  Only this time, they found a fire in the crawlspace under the house near the furnace.  Eric ended up going into the crawlspace without his radio strap and without his Nomex hood on. This episode shares his story of complacency and how he faced his department and shared his lessons with them.

Eric Wappel is a firefighter/EMR at North Judson-Wayne Township Fire Department in North Judson, Indiana. He has 15 years in the fire service, and is currently serving his 6th year as Captain at North Judson. North Judson-Wayne Township covers 72 square miles, and runs about 325 calls each year. He takes pride in being able to cover any role proficiently from the jump seat to incident commander. Eric is married to Laura, and has three daughters. He also is a managing partner at Wappel Grain and Herb, a farm in the nearby community.

Episode length: 41 minutes

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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