Situational Awareness & First Responders
The video that I posted with this article illustrates a Deputy around Effingham, IL. He stops his vehicle short of the incident to check victims. There is a visible plume floating across the road but the deputy gets tunnel vision. He is completely fixated and helping victims. First sign...Tunnel Vision. This deputy is experiencing an adrenaline dump. The tunnel vision is causing everything in his vision to be pinpoint. He is not aware of his surroundings.
Pan back as you watch the video. Pause it as the vapor cloud goes across the screen. This could be any rural road in any area of our country. The smaller vehicle on the left possibly has a victim. The victim in the middle of the road has obvious issues. This person is in the middle of the road and in the middle of the vapor cloud. What chemical have they been exposed to? As the Fire apparatus approaches they know that one of their public safety brethren have fallen. They can see this person face down next to the victim. What do they do wrong? Think about the rule of thumb. Are they too close? The EMS unit shows up on scene while the Firefighters are pulling the hose load off of the truck. Are they too close? In Southern Indiana our prevailing winds come from South or Southwest. That doesn't mean that the winds won't shift. What happens to those responders that don't have respiratory protection and the wind changes? They are potentially in the path of the vapors escaping from the tank. They could compound the issue by becoming victims themselves.
Being aware of our surroundings should be instinctive. Maybe this has become second nature due to all the training that most of us have been through. In hazardous environments (like the video that I have posted with this blog), it is paramount for us to have a keen and even heightened situational awareness. This video has been shown thousands of times. I often use it for training in any environment. The thought process behind the video is be aware of your surroundings.
Don't assume anything on a call.
Always have an egress or a way out.
Know your surroundings.
Don't be complacent (complacency kills)
I utilize the Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA Loop) for situations out of the norm. This keeps me on my toes and helps reaffirm what it is we are doing, what's going on around me, where the nearest egress is and who has my "spidey" sense tingling. Constantly scan your environment. This will allow you to go home to your loved ones everyday. Don't compound the problem. Be aware and vigilant all the time.
Good news...This is actually a training video. :)