First aid teams understand an emergency better when they use continuous, clear SMS communication of factual information in a way that all members can understand, and that’s key to a successful team response, according to new research led by an assistant professor of psychology at The University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), part of the University of Alabama System.
“We can describe the rapidly evolving emergencies as represented by very dynamic situations,” said Dr. Kristin Weger, the principal investigator of the study, which was sponsored by UAH’s New Faculty Research program.
“For example, once aspects of the emergency change, the team has to adapt in order to respond effectively,” she says. “Team members need to be in constant contact to stay on top of and be aware of any internal changes they might be affected by. Something like that so the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.”
The researchers studied data collected from teams of four students sending texts to each other while engaged in a standardized, decentralized fire rescue operation called the Network Operation Fire simulation.
“We studied these teams as they conducted the fire rescue operation which consisted of simulated fire outbreak scenarios similar to the kind of incidental fire rescue teams that would respond in other exercises,” said Dr. weigher.
The researchers observed and used the chat logs to record communication data for analysis.
They found that sharing factual basic information about individual team elements, such as the location of first responders to others and current capabilities and resources, changes members’ roles and responsibilities and creates a common operational picture.
“First responders need to ask and answer questions to promote information sharing about basic factual information related to the response team’s situation,” said Dr. weigher.
Individuals who receive messages go through a process to synthesize its context, then recall all pre-existing knowledge and infer the message’s intent to obtain the meaning of the information shared, she says.
“The more accurate and digestible the message, the faster the meaning of the message can be synthesized and processed to inform decision-making and action,” says Dr. weigher.
Texting comprehensive information plays a vital role. When some of the necessary information is not present, it can lead to loss of situational awareness or inaccurate situational awareness.
Experienced rescuers most often make situational awareness errors because of their perception of the current situation, says Dr. weigher. These errors result from relevant factual information not being shared, or being inaccurate or incomplete. The situation can prompt experienced rescuers to look ahead to what is likely to happen and what needs to happen next.
“This often happens because their experience leads them to see what they expect to see and share what they are supposed to share, what is confirmation bias, or to end the search too early, what is premature closure, or to not- confirming information, which is too much confidence,” says Dr. weigher.
On the other hand, novice rescuers make mistakes because they find it difficult to perceive signals in the situation.
“They don’t know what to look for and their lack of mental models makes them less adept at making interpretations and projections into the future,” she says.
“Even when first responders arrive at different times to an emergency, there’s a risk that each person who arrives has a different understanding of what’s happening. This can put rescuers at risk if they think they have a common understanding of what’s going on.” when in reality they don’t because the information has changed.”
These types of errors can also lead to serious patient safety consequences if not recognized and communicated by another team member, she says.
The study found that other communication characteristics, such as verb tenses and speech behaviors, such as question-and-answer texting, can influence the success of a responder team.
“For example, the present tense was mainly used to convey messages related to basic factual information, to better understand impacts or to take action, while predictions and future scenario thinking were conveyed exclusively through the future tense,” says Dr. weigher.
“While there may not be a magic formula for how rescuers should communicate, our findings show that certain communication behaviors promote the sharing of factual information, allowing rescuers to create a more compelling understanding of their emergency team and make decision-making and actionable decisions.” says Dr. weigher.
“I see this communication behavior — the one that promotes the development of situational awareness — is taught in rescuer training,” she says. “Ultimately, what and how the emergency response teams communicate creates a common understanding of the emergency and lays the foundation for the collaborative efforts.”
Undergraduate students supported the research effort, and the research resulted in a poster featuring first place for Areeb Mohammed, a senior in computer science. Mohammed won at UAH’s Undergraduate Research Horizon Poster Session with his poster titled “Understanding Team Behavior and Response in Stressful Situations.”
Based on the knowledge gained from the research, Dr. Weger along with Dr. Vineetha Menon, assistant professor of computer science, to explore the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning-based predictive modeling to mathematically model what an ideal high-performing emergency response team might look like.
That model could then be used for deeper studies on situational awareness, says Dr. Weger, and the explainable AI methodologies of Dr. Menon can identify target areas to improve team performance and situational awareness in changing emergencies.
Quote: Constant, clear, factual texting is key to emergency response team success, finds researcher (2022, Oct. 6), retrieved Oct. 6, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-factual-texting -key-team- success.html
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