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Will Denial Make the Problem Better or Worse?

head in the sandI received the following feedback to a recent Situational Awareness Newsletter. I thought I’d share it and use it as an introduction to this article. Here’s what he had to say:


I forwarded your newsletter to every one of my email contacts. The newsletter was especially appropriate  for some of the people on my mailing list because of the article you wrote on Mayday policies.  You are going to find this amazing but the training officer for one of our local fire departments does not believe they need a Mayday or RIC policy because as he said “that will never happen here” and “when was the last time we had anything like that happen in this town”.  I sent the newsletter to him but doubt he will take any action.  Let’s hope, however, that hearing the message from somebody else besides me will light a fire under his rear end.

Will denial make the problem better or worse?[tweet this]

The question seems rhetorical. The statements of the training officer seems incomprehensible. But I have to share with you, I meet more than my share of firefighters with a similar disposition during my situational awareness and decision making programs. It’s sad and unfortunate because I know while I’m sharing the many examples of how firefighters die, these people are sitting there in a defensive, close-minded posture thinking to themselves: That will never happen here, and When was the last time we had anything like that happen in this town.

One of the keynote programs I deliver is called: A recipe from hell’s kitchen: The ingredients for a perfect catastrophe. Here’s the recipe:[tweet this]

Hell's KitchenThe Recipe from Hell’s Kitchen

STEP 1: Take a large helping of incompetent behavior.

STEP 2: Remove all the consequence.

STEP 3: Cover and allow confidence to rise.

STEP 4: Deny the existence of the deadly mixture until complacency sets in.

STEP 5: Put into PPE and send into an oven. When PASS Alarms ring the catastrophe will be ready.

For those who’ve attended one of my Mental Management of Emergencies programs you know I spend a lot of time talking about each component of this tragic recipe. If you’ve not had the opportunity to attend the program yet, no worries. In the upcoming articles I will break down each step of the recipe and talk about the how this happens, why this happens, and most importantly, what to do about it.


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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