First Responder Problem Solving and Decision Making in Today's Asymmetrical Environment [open pdf - 812KB]
"Today's first responders confront a common challenge, namely the lack of exposure to and experience with asymmetric threats (i.e., terrorism and natural disasters) in training venues that would enable them to develop familiarity with these novel situations. Different problem-solving strategies currently employed by today's first responders are described, along with situation awareness and how to best leverage first-responder experience. Literature on expert versus novice decision making, situation awareness, recognition-primed decision making, and scenario-based learning was leveraged to design the thesis experiment. Through scenario-based exercises, the thesis attempted to discover whether the decision-making skills of an experienced fire officer (expert) can be learned by newly promoted officers (novice). Results from this experiment provided insight and plausible remedies regarding today's asymmetric threats in the form of recommendations to enhance the first responder's ability to develop good situational awareness and decision making. The goal now is to use research results and recommendations as a springboard to develop training that helps a novice to effectively respond to asymmetric threats. Experiment results indicate that, by combining scenarios designed to expose novices to situations they may not experience during routine operations with timely expert feedback, an individual's decision-making skills and situation awareness can be improved."
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