BACK-TO-BASICS SERIES - OVERVIEW-4: EXAMINING PUBLIC SITUATION AWARENESS DURING THREAT SCENARIOS
(This content is a primer for the "Crisis Communications Series" concentrating on awareness)
As a brief reminder here, in the case of an Active Shooter scenario, the current protocol is "RUN or HIDE or FIGHT."
Remember, put your hands up when you come in contact with the security staff and responders.
=>RUN: Away from the incident, to safety and/or back home only if it is safe to do so.
=>HIDE: When you hide, you are "buying-time," waiting for police, SWAT, and other responders to secure your location. They will attempt to evacuate you when they find you. Turn your cell phone to quiet mode, and only text (don't talk) or you may give away your location to the shooter.
=>FIGHT: This is a last resort to survive (only in the event that the shooter finds you).
Other than generally stating we should all be taking full advantage of all of our senses at all times, I re-emphasize that almost everyone can participate in "if you see something say something" and attempt to maintain a bit more (situation awareness). In many cases of Active shooter scenarios, the bad actors recon the Target, they may have their head covered and be looking around a lot or yawning and looking away as they pass security or video cameras... (Obviously, there is no recon if the bad actor knows the target well already e.g. works there). Anyone talking about killing or doing damage should be reported (catch them at an early stage). Catching individuals during recon stage would be a great time to report suspicious activity too, (prior to an incident)... The bad actor may slip through a fence or loiter and watch to determine peak occupancy, or walk around all 4 sides of the building.
Private sector businesses will have significant numbers of people on premises as we approach the holiday season, and they should review there Emergency Occupant Plans immediately to ensure they have a protocol in place for Active Shooter, and run a practice drill with ALL employees. Ideally, business owners should give the THIRA process a try if they haven't already (risks, vulnerabilities context). Do not leave any back doors unlocked that do not need to be.
At home people can review their home security and shelter in place plan, and make sure their weapons are locked up when they are not home and accessible when they are home, this includes management of obvious dual purpose materials.
=>"Situation Awareness provides the primary basis for subsequent decision making and performance in the operation of complex, dynamic systems" (Endsley, 1995a, p. 65). In other words, pattern matching a situation with a protocol (gold standard) that has been attempted before should significantly enhance the outcome in favor of the participant (when compared to an improvised reaction).
=>Perception (Level 1 Awareness): The first step in achieving awareness is to perceive the status, attributes, and dynamics of relevant elements in the environment. Thus, the most basic level of awareness, involves the processes of monitoring, cue detection, and simple recognition, which lead to an awareness of multiple situational elements (objects, events, people, systems, environmental factors) and their current states (locations, conditions, modes, actions).
=>Comprehension (Level 2 Awareness): The next step in awareness formation involves a synthesis of disjointed Level 1 awareness elements through the processes of pattern recognition, interpretation, evaluation, and buffering of other peoples accounts. Level 2 awareness requires integrating this information to understand how it will impact upon the individual's goals and objectives given the scenario. This includes developing a comprehensive picture of the incident, or of that portion of the incident of concern to the individual.
=>Projection (Level 3 Awareness): The third and highest level of awareness in civilian responses involves the ability to project the future actions of the elements in the environment (especially bad actors). Level 3 awareness is achieved through knowledge of the status and dynamics of the elements and comprehension of (Levels 1 and 2 awareness), and then extrapolating this information forward in time to determine how it will affect future states of the operational environment (especially your safety).
=>Objects: Awareness of various objects in the incident, and their current status. Objects and their status may be indicative of particular situations (that they are about to occur or culminating) also referred to as cues.
=>Frames: Awareness of what kind of situation is on-going, e.g. at home you may monitor your phones and watch the local news for messages warning of evacuation or shelter in place.
=>Implications: Has anyone alerted 911, where is the nearest entrance/exit, is it time to communicate and ensure everyone is aware of the problem or is it time to be quiet, should you be low to the ground, concealed and behind cover, or rapidly making your way to an entrance. Awareness of objects within frames, of what their current status means in a particular situation (where are the bad actors now). The implications of a chemical incident near your home, is it windy that day, the distance to event, if you flee will you run into it, are the streets shut down. The implications refer to time and space, to an event horizon.
=>Event horizon: An awareness of plans and events in time and space. It includes an awareness of what has happened (useful for diagnosis, to achieve SA, to frame situations). It also includes prognosis, an awareness of what might happen next. That includes on the one hand an awareness both of what might occur based on diagnosis and the current situation, and on the other hand on an awareness of current plans and intentions. Intentions may be communicated to you from First Responders, and the public must be ready to do as they are told without question (as time is usually critical to survival).
USING AWARENESS IN A GROUP SETTING:
=>Shared Awareness: individuals can confirm there is a problem by communicating with others if possible share information, determine resources and solutions available.
=>Organizational Awareness: Quickly determine strengths and weaknesses related to whether the group has the knowledge and ability to assume a structure such as CERT team structure, or whether the group must enter a protective configuration while a few do all of the work.
=>Task Awareness: individuals need to determine the tasks to be performed and spread them out to able-bodied members (ideally, in a rapid but organized manor with time frames articulated).
=>Transactive Awareness: Exchange of information between system parts, ideally if an individual escapes a building what is under attack, it is important due-diligence to tell first responders anything vital about the bad actors, who they are, what they want, how many, weapons/explosives types and quantities, traps, number of people hostage, number presumed injured or dead, are they executing everyone.
=>Buffering Awareness: Individuals trapped can attempt to obtain different accounts and status updates of the (e.g., different frames) of situations, in various parts of the incident environment if possible.
=>Temporal and a Spatial Awareness. Actions of an individual may occur according to a time frame or a tempo, e.g. when a gunmen runs out of ammo they must change the clip (that is the time for action).
=>Interpretation: The role of people near you, your goals, and their goals are interpreted to determine the significance of perceived information, and expectations.
Derived Source: Dr. Mica Endsley, Chief Scientist USAF
=>Endsley, M. R. (1995). Toward a theory of situation awareness in dynamic systems. Human Factors, 37(1), 32-64.
=>Endsley, M. R. (1995). Measurement of situation awareness in dynamic systems. Human Factors, 37(1), 65-84.
=>Endsley, M. R., & Garland, D. J. (Eds.). (2000). Situation awareness analysis and measurement. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
=>Endsley, M. R., & Jones, W. M. (2001). A model of inter- and intrateam situation awareness: Implications for design, training and measurement. In M. McNeese, E. Salas & M. Endsley (Eds.), New trends in cooperative activities: Understanding system dynamics in complex environments (pp. 46-67). Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
=>Endsley, M. R. (2006). Expertise and Situation Awareness. In K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P. J. Feltovich & R. R. Hoffman (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (pp. 633-651). New York: Cambridge University Press.
=>Endsley, M. R., & Jones, D. G. (2012). Designing for situation awareness: An approach to human-centered design (2nd ed.). London: Taylor & Francis.