The key asset in crisis management is information. Its effective management is crucial. At some point information should be processed into a form that can be used as a coherent basis for decision-making. This is called Situational Awareness (SA). SA is the concept of developing the ability to observe your environment, orientate to rapid changes, and make decisions and act upon those decisions at a quick pace during high-tempo operations. SA also goes beyond knowing the now; it is also being able to assess the implications of what is (and what is not) going on and to project how the current situation might evolve in the future. It is important to recognize that at all times during the crisis there is a clear understanding between what is definitely known, what is rumor or assumptions, and what is being reported by others (e.g., media, social media, local first responders, regulatory agencies, etc.). Good SA leads to what often is referred to as the “Common Operational Picture;” that is, the same understanding by everyone of what has occurred, what actions are underway to address the crisis, and what is the desired outcome. Developing SA is a deliberate, active, and disciplined process that requires practice and should be exercised on a frequent basis. Developing the ability to achieve SA as an individual is a great benefit; but having the ability to achieve it as a team is the ultimate goal.
In this short video clip from the Crisis Coordinator Webinar Series, Rob Burton discusses how to build and maintain situational awareness.
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