I am new this whole writing thing, so any feedback would be very welcome. This first bit is something I wrote in reply to a question asked of me about my view of Situational Awareness as it relates to Crew Resource Management. Please let me know what you think, especially about the wording, flow etc.... Thanks in advance.
Situational Awareness (SA) is a term that I have been operating in and around for the better part of my working career. Being in military aviation for 18 years and involved with aviation safety for 15+ years including being a CRM instructor/evaluator, the term SA, along with some other terms that go hand in hand with it, is ingrained in me to the core. In my opinion, it is impossible to perform well in a job that demands split second decision making with little or no room for error, without maintaining good SA, and recognizing if/when you have lost it. Although obviously used for a long time, the term SA came on strong in aviation in the 80’s and 90's through the incorporation of Crew Resource Management (CRM), into flight training.
The term Situational Awareness is just that, a term, used to describe a state of mind, defined something like this: The degree of accuracy by which one's perception of his/her current environment mirrors actual reality. Using that definition, what should be discussed and taught a lot more in the fire service is how to GAIN and MAINTAIN your SA.
With SA, the important thing to remember is that the reality is the constant... it cannot change, only your perception of what is happening can change. It does not matter what you PERCIEVE to be reality... What IS reality is how the situation will play out. Remembering that can help you be willing to admit to yourself that you might not have all the information, and your view of the situation might not reflect an accurate view of reality. ANY and ALL information gained whether it is thru sight, touch, or sound (including radio traffic) etc... must be weighed against your perception to see if it "fits". If any information gained does not "fit" then you must decide if the information is not accurate, or your perception is askew, keeping in mind that facts and reality are just that, FACTS and REALITY. In CRM this is known as Perception vs. Reality.
Another part of perception vs. reality is your expectations and biases, or what you think/believe should be happening. These are based upon past experiences, classes, feelings, etc. If the information you have been gathering goes against your biases, you must be willing to admit to yourself that your biases/expectations might be false.
Gaining and maintaining accurate SA involves making an initial assessment of the situation, and then gathering all available information possible, processing that information to see if it mirrors your view of the situation (perception vs. reality), and then continuing to do this over, and over, and over, constantly trying to maintain an accurate view of the situation until it is resolved.