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Responders learn about Situational Awareness at Superior Response Conference

Apr 27, 2019 01:21PM ● By Editor
Dr. Rich Gasaway leads an interactive video attention and recall session with participants.  Photo:  Boreal Community Media - April 27, 2019

From Boreal Community Media - April 27, 2019

 Dr. Rich Gasaway.  Photo:  Boreal Community Media

Situational Awareness Consultant Dr. Rich Gasaway shared insights gained from more than thirty years as a firefighter, paramedic and as a fire chief in West Virginia, Ohio and Minnesota on Saturday at the 36th annual Cook County Superior Response Conference on Saturday.  After retiring from his career as a first responder, Gasaaway earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree where he researched how people use situational awareness to improve high risk decision making.

Gasaway defined situational awareness as your ability to perceive and understand what is happening in the world around you while being mindful of how time is passing.  And having the ability to predict the future to avoid bad outcomes.  "If you can remember three words -  perceive - understand - predict - it will improve your situational awareness," said Dr. Gasaway.  

When responding to a first responder incident, Gasaway warned "Don't try to make sense of all the data that is coming you at the same time, if you try to do that you can experience analysis paralysis."  He continued "Intuition is your single most important red flag warning system. If only we would trust it", Gasaway said.  Gasaway said the number one error in situational awareness is when people take action before understanding the problem.

Gasaway shared that he has done an extensive analysis of over 500 firefighter fatalities, and said "if I could ask them to share a tip with me, they would say don't get in way of outcomes you cannot change.  If you don't get out of the way of an outcome you can't change, you will be the victim."

Gasaway believes there is a step important between decision and action, and that is prediction.  "See in your mind if there is going to me a good outcome or a bad outcome.  Always have two options for a decision - an aggressive option and a conservative option," said Gasaway.  

In the final portion of the session, Gasaway led an interactive group exercise called "Last Man Standing " - testing participants on how many of ten questions they could answer about elements observed in a 34 second video they could recall.  

Dr. Gasaway hosts a regular podcast where anyone can learn more about how improve situational aweness and hear close call survivor stories.  The podcast is called SAMatters Radio and is available by following this link.

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