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Situational Awareness

Situational awareness refers to the degree to which one?s perception of a situation matches reality. In the context of crisis management, where the phrase is most often used, situational awareness includes awareness of fatigue and stress among team members (including oneself), environmental threats to safety, appropriate immediate goals, and the deteriorating status of the crisis (or worker). Failure to maintain situational awareness can result in various problems that compound the crisis. For instance, during an emergency, an individual or entire team may focus on a particular task. Fixation on this problem can result in loss of situational awareness to the point that steps are not taken to address immediately life-threatening problems such as an escape of toxic gas. In this context, maintaining situational awareness might be seen as equivalent to keeping the ?big picture? in mind. Alternatively, in assigning tasks in a crisis, the leader may ignore signals from a team member, which may result in escalating anxiety for the team member, failure to perform the assigned task, or further worker deterioration.

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