Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway, CFO, EFO, Fire Chief  (ret.)
The precursor to situational awareness is situational readiness. I define situational readiness as having the ability to anticipate what things need to be in place to be well-prepared for an emergency response; and then, taking the steps necessary to ensure those things are done in advance of the actual response.
What precisely is needed to ensure situational readiness? Here are 10 things that make a good start to the list:
Situational Readiness List
1. Hiring of the right people for the right reasons.
2. Firing the wrong people for the right reasons.
3. Developing a comprehensive program to train supervisors how to be leaders of people.
4. Building a safety culture where egos are kept in check and self-esteem is strengthened by supportive leadership.
5. Ensuring members have all the tools and equipment necessary to ensure success.
6. Ensuring members are thoroughly trained on how to use their tools and equipment.
7. Training members for success using realistic and repetitive evolutions, scenarios and simulations.
8. Ensuring the focus is first, and foremost, on the prevention of emergencies.
9. Evaluating opportunities for self-improvement following each emergency response.
10. Making small, incremental improvements over time. Avoid changing things at a pace that is faster than the organization can sustain.
Situational Non-Readiness List
Now, let’s look at the antithesis list. These are the hallmarks of organizations that are not well-prepared.
1. Hiring the wrong people for the wrong reasons.
2. Keeping poor performers whose attitude and disposition drag everyone down.
3. Doing nothing to train existing or newly promoted supervisors on how to lead people.
4. Allowing the organization to be run by leaders with big egos and low self-esteem.
5. Denying the members the tools and equipment to be successful.
6. Withholding the training on how to effectively use their tools and equipment.
7. Training in unrealistic ways. Taking shortcuts and just going through the motions or doing no training at all.
8. Focusing entirely on suppression/response and ignoring prevention.
9. Ignoring the lessons from mistakes made at emergencies.
10. Making no improvements or trying to make major improvements quickly so the organization is set-up to frustration and failure.
Compare the lists and decide for yourself. Does your organization have situational readiness?
About the Author
Dr. Gasaway is widely considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and the human factors that complicate first responder decision making. In addition to his 30-plus year career in the fire service, including 22 years as a fire chief, Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in brain science for the benefit of first responders. His website, Situational Awareness Matters (www.SAMatters.com) welcomes 50,000 visitors a month from 156 countries. He can be reached via e-mail at Support@RichGasaway.com.