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What's Your Situation?



Define and maintain Situational Awareness and recognize the loss of and regain of Situational Awareness.

Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness is defined as the accurate perception of the factors and conditions affecting a person, company or team during a specific period of time. This includes knowing what has gone on in the past in relation to what is going on now, and how it may affect the future.


Every person has a different level of Situational Awareness based on their own perception of reality. Because the PIC makes the final decision, the group level is limited to the individual level of the PIC. Thus, the PIC's Situational Awareness is the most important and everyone should work to ensure that the PIC is kept informed of every aspect of the situation.

Elements of Situational Awareness

Customer needs/desires

Company policy

Team members







Special Situations

Maintaining Good Situational Awareness

In order to maintain good situational awareness, it is important to have an accurate perception of factors and conditions affecting a person or a team during a particular task or project. 

Critical Success Factors:


Successful people have an intimate knowledge of their business, stemming from training and experience, that includes systems, procedures, limitations and strategies.


Successful people have developed a professional, conservative attitude which causes them to constantly monitor for challenges.


Successful people have developed the physical and mental skills necessary to accomplish their jobs while remaining safely within all normal parameters.



Mental Joggers

Periodically using AESOP™ or statements like, "What's going on?" and "How are we doing?" has the effect of jogging the mind to peak awareness.

Self Preflight

It's hard to be alert if our sensors are dull. Use the I'M SAFE checklist to ensure that you are ready to take on the demands of that day's work.

Buying Time

It is important not to be rushed. Often just slowing down a little can make all the difference in our ability to maintain good awareness of what is going on. Slow down to speed up, using AESOP™ to scan for any problems or risks.

Losing Situational Awareness

There are certain situations where the loss of Situational Awareness is more likely to occur. Ensure that Situational Awareness is peaked to maximum prior to entering and while in one of the following danger zones. Just as in the Accident Zone Model, if you are not fully prepared for the situation, consider not entering or getting out until you are.

Danger Zone

Relaxed Situations

In relaxed situations people let down their guard and may not follow the SOP.

New Situations

When a situation is outside someone’s previous experience, their Critical Success Factors are down, leading to task overload. If you have to think about the basics of your job, you are using vast amounts of brain power and cannot scan for Situational Awareness clues at the same time.

Emergency or High Stress Situation

When people are in a stressful situation, it is easy to develop channelized attention. There is a tendency to go with the easiest solution, even if it is not the best.




Warning Signs of Loss of Situational Awareness

1. Fixation - focused on only one problem

2. Ambiguity - known facts don't make sense

3. Complacency - the "I've done this a hundred times..." trap

4. Euphoria - feeling like everything is just perfect

5. Gut Feeling/Confusion - indicates the subconscious is putting out a warning; we call this a "pinch"

6. Distraction - becoming engrossed in a detail at the expense of other information which is equally or more important

7. Overload/Under-load - too busy or too bored

8. Poor Communications - ideas not coming across, difficulty in expression or understanding

9. Failure to Meet Targets - performance discrepancies

10. Improper Procedures - exceeding personal safe operating limits, departure from SOP

11. Unresolved Discrepancies - these are often forgotten about or ignored

12. No one in charge

Regaining Situational Awareness

By definition, if you lose situational awareness, you don't know what is going on so it is difficult to realize that you have lost situational awareness! You may be vaguely aware that something is wrong but can't put your finger on what it is (pinch). Or, you might be sitting there thinking, "This is stupid!" If you find yourself in this situation, immediately verbalize your concerns. This has the effect of snapping yourself and others into the reality of the situation so you can effectively deal with it.

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