Situational Awareness: The First Line of Defense

Issue 110 and Volume 162.

BY ERIC G. BACHMAN Every day, emergency services workers are dispatched to incidents of varying natures, and the public expects them to fix whatever the problem is. Often, the person calling 911 provides inaccurate, vague, and even totally incorrect information. This places emergency services personnel at a greater disadvantage, since even the basic information they need to prepare for what they may be encountering is missing. A key element to responding to any emergency is situational awareness of what will or may happen. Many indicators provide evidence or clues of a problem that exists. For fire events, alarm system activation, sprinkler system water flow, and obvious smoke and fire are indicators of real or potential fire conditions. For incidents involving hazardous materials, the indicators may not be as obvious. Responding to a hazardous materials incident blindly can result in harm to responders. When responding to a potential hazardous materials incident,…

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