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Staying on task: A tool to help state and regional-level emergency management teams
journal contributionposted on 21.09.2020, 00:00 by Peter Hayes, Christopher Bearman, Mark Thomason, P Bremner
The demands on teams coordinating emergency management at state and regional levels can be considerable. These teams may be supporting multiple incidents and are prioritising resources, liaising with other organisations and managing public interests. Also, during large-scale emergencies, teams will be working under conditions of stress and fatigue, which are known to impair cognitive processes such as memory and decision-making. This paper describes a checklist-based cognitive aid that can be used by teams to help retain their focus on tasks that need to be completed. This checklist is based on a hierarchical task analysis that was developed with emergency management agencies using observations, subject matter expert advice and prototype piloting. The checklist is a simple, straightforward set of prompts that help managers keep track of operational tasks and, thus, helps to reduce mental workload and improve cognition. The checklist can be used as a prompt to help emergency managers address the tasks they have oversight for, as a training and development resource, and as a diagnostic and monitoring tool to assess how well a control centre is operating. This can be assessed in real time and through the after-action review process. The checklist is a flexible tool that can help people better manage emergency response activities.