Flawed Situational Awareness: The Stealth Killer of First Responders

8 Hour Program

This program shares the powerful findings of Dr. Gasaway’s extensive research on issues related to first responder decision making and flawed situational awareness.  In his review of hundreds of near-miss reports, case studies, line-of-duty death reports and videos he continually found himself being frustrated because there were so many clues, indicators and signs that the incident was going to end in disaster.

Yet, for some reason, personnel operating at the incident scene – from company officers to incident commanders – could not see it coming.  Or if they did see it coming, they did nothing to alter their course.

In his research to understand why first responders were (seemingly) blind and deaf to what was happening right in front of them, Dr. Gasaway uncovered and investigated over one hundred barriers that can destroy situational awareness and flaw decision making.

This program focuses on some of the most pervasive situational awareness barriers first responders will face while operating in stress-filled, dynamically-changing environments.

Barriers to be explored and discussed will include:           

  • Pre-arrival lens
  • Confabulation
  • Mission Myopia
  • Mind drift
  • Staffing issues
  • Cognitive biases
  • Normalization of deviance
  • Human factors
  • Complacency
  • The curse of knowledge
  • Overconfidence
  • Technology
  • Miscommunications
  • Command location
  • Peer and supervisor pressure
  • Command support
  • Overload
  • Fear-driven decisions
  • Task fixation
  • Culture
  • Task saturation
  • … and more


Dr Richard Gasaway

Richard B. Gasaway worked as a first responder in three public safety organizations including serving 22 years as a fire chief. After completing his distinguished 30-year career, Dr. Gasaway founded Situational Awareness Matters!, a consulting and teaching organization dedicated to improving how individuals, teams and organizations develop situational awareness as a foundation for improving workplace and personal safety. His company website (SAMatters.com) has been visited by more than four million people from 156 countries.

As a professional speaker and author, Dr. Gasaway has contributed to more than 400 books, book chapters and journal articles on topics related to leadership, safety, situational awareness and high consequence decision making. His best selling books, Situational Awareness Matters Volumes 1, 2 & 3, Situational Awareness for Emergency Response, and Fireground Command Decision Making, serve as essential guides for helping individuals and teams develop and maintain situational awareness while making high-stress, high-consequence decisions.

Dr. Gasaway has earned the Certified Speaking Professional designation – the highest honor awarded by the National Speakers Association. His high-energy, humor filled presentations are chocked full of valuable, actionable takeaways – as proven by his 2,500+ program and keynote address invitations throughout the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Hong Kong and Australia.

Dr. Gasaway is a big proponent of “Paying it forward” and gives back by serving as the Chancellor for the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) credentialing program and a peer evaluator for the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) Credentialing program.

When he is not spreading the situational awareness message, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Carol, and his four children: Cameron (a Madison, WI firefighter), Jordan and Hanna (college students) and Micah, (a high school student).

You can learn more about Dr. Gasaway and his mission by visiting his websites: www.RichGasaway.com and www.SAMatters.com.