Maintaining Situational Awareness During Incidents and in Your Relationships!


Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Photo Courtesy of Landon Jensen

Situational awareness is instilled within us early in the fire service. It is the process of knowing what is going on around you at all times and having a tentative plan to respond to an abnormal occurrence. Without it we become complacent. It can be the difference between life and death if not developed, practiced and in place at all times.

The same goes for the relationships in your life. We need to maintain situational awareness of how we respond, react and treat others personally and professionally. If we fail to do this, it could be the difference of ending a relationship or long term irreparable damage.

On a professional basis I recently was asked to assist an agency on a project. When I originally met the person who asked for assistance they seemed kind, considerate and professional. After some time, I noticed the behavior changed. Was this the way he treated everyone after time? Was he having a bad day? The first one was on me. After the behavior continued the only thing that came out of it was that I lost respect for him and was no longer interested in assisting. There’s no winner here!

The same can happen in our personal life. Remember the first time you dated or became close with someone? You were on your best behavior. Aware and alert while paying attention to that person and their needs. Have you maintained that or have you let your guard down? Without awareness complacency sets in. Trouble starts to find its way in the relationship. Sometimes the result can be catastrophic.

I’m big into training. We’ve all heard the saying “train as if your life depends on it – because it does!” Training makes us become good at what we do. It can be the difference between life and death. It can be hard to have healthy relationships when your life feels busy or with day-to-day challenges and pressure. But it is important to maintain awareness on how you are behaving towards others. How do you like to be treated? Be respectful. Be kind. Listen more. Be open to others ideas. Train yourself in your relationship as if your relationship depends on it – because it does!

Remember this article about the “jaws of life” and how our jaws can actually tear others apart –

Complacency kills during incidents. Complacency kills in relationships. Train yourself to be aware in both!

About Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Sam DiGiovanna is a 33-year fire service veteran. He started with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, served as fire chief at the Monrovia Fire Department and currently serves as chief at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale, Calif.