Situation Awareness

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Situation Awareness and
Decision Making in a Warning
Environment
Advanced Warning Operations Course
IC Core 2
Lesson 3: Team SA
Warning Decision Training Branch

Lesson 3 will focus on the Situation Awareness (SA) of teams. The “teams” in this lesson are not limited to the forecast office staff. For example, another team would be the entire group comprised by the forecast office, the media, and emergency managers, who are all part of the warning process.

1

Lesson 3: Team SA
Learning Objective:
• Identify factors that can impact getting
and maintaining team SA.

“When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles,
scream and shout”
John Helpling

The Learning Objective for Lesson 3 applies to factors that affect getting and maintaining team SA. The Learning Objectives will be tested when you take the on-line exam for IC Core 2.

2

Lesson 3: Team SA
Performance Objectives
1. Using specific data examples, identify the
three levels of SA and how they are
contributing to your warning decisions,
while working:
a) WES simulations, and
b) Warning events.

2. As part of post-event analysis, determine
the role that SA (good or bad) at the
three levels played in the warning
decisions that were made.

The Performance Objectives for Lesson 3 apply during this course as well as after completion. Though they are not tested formally, questions related to these Performance Objectives will be posed during the course simulations. Developing SA in the “domain” of the warning environment is a skill that evolves over time and is an important asset in making sound warning decisions.

3

Apollo 13 and Team SA
Hmm…

???
Uh-oh

Yes!!
“Danger
Will Robinson!”

The Apollo 13 mission is an interesting example of a shift in team SA. This large team of controllers had to build their SA sufficiently to shift the goal from mission completion to getting the astronauts back alive. Imagine the reluctance to abandon the mission, but lengthy resistance would have caused delays that might have prevented the return of the astronauts.

4

Team SA
A Shared Understanding
Who’s in charge
here?

What are each of
these people doing?

Who has the
necessary
information?

Did the right person
hear that report?

This photo was taken at a forecast office during a significant warning event. The arrows depict all the potential interactions among team members. There are five people working in this one area and others working elsewhere. The potential for communications chaos is very high in this environment.

5

Are Team Decisions Inherently
Better?





Nope
Differing views can paralyze a team
Teams may suffer from a collective error
Communication of information among team
members may be faulty
• Status differences may have an impact
• Cultural differences may play a role
Team SA has its own challenges. Team decisions are not necessarily better. There are a number of things that can derail team SA, such as inability to resolve conflicts, poor communication, status and cultural differences.

6

Team SA Definition
“The active construction of a situation partly shared
and partly distributed between two or more agents,
from which one can anticipate important states in the
Salas et al 1995
near future.”

• Team SA is the result of each individual’s SA
• If one individual loses SA, it can affect that of
the group
“40% of reported incidents in the ASRS
data base occurred when only one crew
member had a problem with SA.”
http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov

The definition of team SA addresses the construction of SA for each individual, with information shared among team members, building team SA. The quote from ASRS shows that the impact is significant when only one member of a team loses their SA. ASRS is the Aviation Safety Reporting System, a web site provided by NASA where pilots and crew members can report incidents anonymously. This database is also used by human factors...
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