Apparatus & Equipment, Firefighting

Structural Firefighting: Protecting Against the Hazards of Tunnel Vision

Issue 2 and Volume 168.

BY DAN HALE Most firefighters have seen someone with dangerous tunnel vision or have experienced it themselves. When entering a structure fire with a crew or driving fire apparatus to a scene of a confirmed rescue situation, it is completely normal to have extremely focused attention and even physical signs and symptoms of stress and excitement all at once. It is when the focused attention and physical symptoms start negatively affecting the firefighter’s thinking ability and actions that the firefighter or others can be dangerously impacted. The physical signs of the stress response can be objectively seen in someone. There are also cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects seen as part of a stress response; they can be more difficult to detect. An unchecked physical stress response will exacerbate cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects. When tunnel vision affects situational awareness, lives are affected. Safety and proper thinking can be maintained by…

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