Situation Awareness in Emergency Medical Dispatch. Blandford, A. & Wong, B. L. W. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 61(4):421 - 452, 2004.
doi  abstract   bibtex   
Situation awareness, and how systems can be designed to support it appropriately, have been a focus of study in dynamic, safety critical contexts such as aviation. The work reported here extends the study of situation awareness into the domain of emergency medical dispatch (EMD). The study was conducted in one of the largest ambulance services in the world. In this study, we encountered development and exploitation of situation awareness, particularly among the more senior EMD operators called allocators. In this paper we describe the notion of a [`]mental picture' as an outcome of situation awareness, how an awareness of the situation is developed and maintained, the cues allocators attend to, and the difficulties they face in doing so. One of the key characteristics of ambulance control is that relatively routine behaviour is periodically interspersed with incidents that demand much higher levels of attention, but that the routine work must still be completed; operators exhibit contrasting levels of situation awareness for the different kinds of incidents. Our findings on situation awareness are related to those of others, particularly Endsley and Wickens. The observations and interviews enable us to propose high-level requirements for systems to support appropriate situation awareness, to enable EMD staff to complete their work effectively.
@article{Blandford2004,
   title       = {{Situation Awareness in Emergency Medical Dispatch}},
   journal     = {International Journal of Human-Computer Studies},
   volume      = {61},
   number      = {4},
   pages       = {421 - 452},
   year        = {2004},
   issn        = {1071-5819},
   doi         = {DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2003.12.012},
   _url        = {http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1071581904000102},
   author      = {Ann Blandford and B. L. William Wong},
   abstract    = { Situation awareness, and how systems can be designed to
                  support it appropriately, have been a focus of study in
                  dynamic, safety critical contexts such as aviation. The work
                  reported here extends the study of situation awareness into
                  the domain of emergency medical dispatch (EMD). The study was
                  conducted in one of the largest ambulance services in the
                  world. In this study, we encountered development and
                  exploitation of situation awareness, particularly among the
                  more senior EMD operators called allocators. In this paper we
                  describe the notion of a [`]mental picture' as an outcome of
                  situation awareness, how an awareness of the situation is
                  developed and maintained, the cues allocators attend to, and
                  the difficulties they face in doing so. One of the key
                  characteristics of ambulance control is that relatively
                  routine behaviour is periodically interspersed with incidents
                  that demand much higher levels of attention, but that the
                  routine work must still be completed; operators exhibit
                  contrasting levels of situation awareness for the different
                  kinds of incidents. Our findings on situation awareness are
                  related to those of others, particularly Endsley and Wickens.
                  The observations and interviews enable us to propose
                  high-level requirements for systems to support appropriate
                  situation awareness, to enable EMD staff to complete their
                  work effectively.}
}

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