Enhancing decision making during initial operations at surge events
Duggan, Brian P.
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This thesis utilized a Delphi survey method to obtain the perspective of seasoned Incident Commanders (ICs), as they reflected on their experience responding to surge incidents. Surge events are defined as complex and chaotic emergencies that require resources well beyond normal operating capacity. These surge events are rare and of such a magnitude that the Incident Commander is confronted with a unique situation that often exceeds his/her experience and ability to improvise and adapt to changing conditions. This thesis combines the pertinent literature on decision making, situational awareness, collaboration and geospatial technology with the lens of experience provided by the Delphi panel. First, this research identifies and prioritizes 18 signals that an incident is becoming nonroutine, unfamiliar and chaotic. Second, it provides an inventory of strategic options that an Incident Commander can consider when faced with the chaos that often accompanies a surge event. Finally, this material was synthesized into a quick action guide as a reference source that can inform Incident Commanders, as they face the dynamic and unpredictable environment of surge events. The knowledge obtained through this research is offered with the desire to enhance the ability of Incident Commanders to make effective decisions when lives are most at risk.
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