Unified command? Preliminary findings from a situation awareness experiment


  • Jeroen Wolbers Leiden University Author


Situational Awareness, Decision Making, command & control, experiments, fire department


This study investigates high-pressure decision-making in fire response operations, with a particular focus on the cognitive abilities of incident commanders. It builds upon the naturalistic decision-making approach, emphasizing the pivotal role of situational awareness in decision-making. While existing studies predominantly concentrate on individual decision-makers, this study shifts attention to the collaborative dynamics within incident command teams. Through computer-based experiments, it explores the impact of interdependence between fireground commanders on situational awareness, challenging the presumed benefits of teamwork. Counterintuitive results question the conventional wisdom regarding the advantages of having a second pair of eyes. The experiment's findings indicate that commanders operating alone achieve the highest situational awareness scores, suggesting that organizing periodic moments of consultation works better than operating in pairs during response operations. This study provides insights into the intricate interplay of interdependence and situational awareness during high- pressured decision-making.


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How to Cite

Wolbers, J. (2024). Unified command? Preliminary findings from a situation awareness experiment. ISCRAM Proceedings, 21. http://ojs.iscram.org/index.php/Proceedings/article/view/111

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