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My situational awareness is more alert now!

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Blane Taylor
  • 10th Air Force Safety
I remember back in the early 90's it was a hot humid summer day and I was helping my dad and his buddies install a fence at our hunting club. The name of our hunting club was "Indian Bayou Hunting Club"; it was located in the Atchafalaya Basin between Arnaudville and Krotz Springs LA. The hunting club consisted of about 100 members or so and we had roughly 5000 acres of Louisiana Sportsmen Paradise at our disposal to hunt and fish. I have great memories of hunting and fishing at Indian Bayou with my father, brothers, friends, and family.

As long as I can remember my father was always a proponent of safety; as a self employed Drilling Consultant. He was responsible for the lives and safety of the men who worked for him on Oil Drilling Platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Being the safety conscious father I had he made sure we wore our gloves, goggles, long pants and good sturdy boots on that hot humid summer day.

Our project of the day was to install a new fence that bordered the front entrance to our hunting club. We tore down the old rusted barbed wire fencing and carefully rolled them into spools instead of a mess of birds nest wiring. After the tear down, we then replaced the old wooden posts with drilling pipeline that my father acquired from clients he worked with in the oil field industry. The pipeline posts made a more solid fence post and would last a lot longer than the wooden ones.

After the installment of the new pipeline posts, we then put up a wire on the top cap of the posts to ensure we had it level and straight. The wiring ran approximately 500 feet and straight across the road and front gate entrance leading to our camp.

As with any work projects in the hot humid summer months. H2O is essential when working outside and at the time we had drank all of our water and I decided to make a trip back to the camp and refill the water jug.

I hop on our four wheeler and head for the camp with an empty water jug in tow, properly strapped on the back rack. As with most hunting four-wheelers we had a gun rack that fit on the front handle and could accommodate two rifles or two 12-gauge shotguns ... at the time the gun rack was empty. The top of the gun rack was right about center height between my chest and throat. As I make my way to the camp, cruising about 25-30 mph, I somehow lost my situational awareness of the new wire installed on the posts. I make a right hand turn onto the board road and the front gate entrance, and in an instant I heard a loud popping sound and could see the wire in my peripheral vision retracting away from me on my right and left sides. As I look in awe, the wire is whirling itself back into a spool just like the old rusted and tattered barb wire we had so carefully rolled up earlier that morning. Lucky for me the temporary wiring we had just installed was about the same height of the gun rack on the four-wheeler. The gun rack had run interference and cut the wire. I put on the brakes and the four-wheeler came to a sudden halt, I was a little shaken up and contemplated how lucky I was. Faith was on my side that day.

Luckily I escaped something far worse than I want to imagine. Who knows the outcome of if it were not for the gun rack? Today, because of that incident I am more cognitive of my situational awareness. "My situational awareness beacon is more alert now" when I drive; work on
our camp, or participate in any type of activity that involves people, machines, or equipment.

Theoretical Model of Situational Awareness

- (level 1 SA) the first step is to perceive status, attributes and dynamics of relevant elements in the environment. This involves the process of monitoring, cue detection, and simple recognition, which lead to an awareness of multiple situational elements.

- (level 2 SA) next step involves a synthesis of disjointed level 1 SA elements through the process of pattern recognition, interpretation, and evaluation. Level 2 SA requires integrating information to understand how it will impact upon the individual's goals and objectives. This includes a comprehensive picture of the world, or that portion of world of concern to the individual

Projection - (level 3 SA) the third and highest level involves the ability to project the future actions of the elements in the environment. Level 3 is achieved through knowledge of the status and dynamics of the elements and comprehension of the situation, then extrapolating this information forward in time to determine how it will affect future states of the operational environment