Situational Awareness: Closing the Gap between Stimulus and Response

Situational Awareness: Closing the Gap between Stimulus and Response
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-03-16
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Situational Awareness
Unit 2Transcript: Situational Awareness
Unit 3Workbook: Situational Awareness
Unit 4Recording: Situational Awareness

When faced with a violent encounter, situational awareness could mean the difference between life and death. It is a critical element in closing up the gap between stimulus and response. But is it enough to ensure positive and successful outcomes? This webinar aims to unpack how to effectively avoid, mitigate, or respond to violent encounters.

This session’s instructor is Scott Kirshner. Scott has served in various criminal justice system roles and is currently the Owner and Lead Instructor of Dedicated Threat Solutions. He is an officer survival instructor who has trained with law enforcement, government, and private agencies and has developed and implemented officer safety curricula for two large agencies.

Specifics of Scott’s discussion include:

  • The reality that violent encounters can happen to anyone at any time.
  • Situational awareness: Its definition and value when faced with a threat of violence.
  • The common reasons why situational awareness fails.
    • Complacency where past and present uneventful experiences lead to routine and a faulty assumption of uneventful future.
    • Normalcy bias where red flags and signs of crisis are rationalized which delays, if not deters, response to threats.
    • Tunnel vision which decreases the ability to be situationally aware under high-stress situations.
    • Target fixation that limits an individual’s focus to one point in space.
    • Overwhelmed by events where the situation limits decision-making capacity.
    • Information overload where incoming stimulus becomes too much to process.
  • The color codes as one of the two foundations of situational awareness.
    • How the system determines an individual’s state of awareness and readiness to observe, analyze, and respond to an incoming threat.
    • What each stage looks like, what happens within, and potential issues that might arise in each.
    • A look into how the color codes manifest in a threat or critical incident situation.
  • The other foundation of situational awareness – the OODA Loop.
    • The critical time factor and how it determines the outcomes of the parties involved.
    • The stages of the OODA loop and applying these into critical incidents or threats.
  • The elements of stimulus and response as it relates the situational awareness.
    • The process flow from stimulus to response when situational awareness is present and when it is not.
    • The key factors in violent encounters which influence what transpires in the space in between stimulus and response.
    • The situational awareness to safety path where situational awareness is the perception, critical thinking is the analysis, and safety is the response.
  • Closing the gap towards the goal of shortening the time, reacting faster, and stopping the threat.
    • The key role of situational awareness and the more important aspect of training in the realization of this goal.
    • The different components of training that individuals tasked with responding to critical incidents must have.
    • What lack of training and expertise in these different areas can look like and can lead into.
    • The specific training considerations that must be taken into account for better outcomes in violent encounters and threats.
  • How the presence of both situational awareness and training can facilitate more effective and successful response to critical incidents.

Points clarified during the Q&A were about:

  • Differentiating hyper-vigilance from situational awareness to prevent situational awareness fatigue.
  • Working on situational awareness with a partner through what-if scenarios.
  • Preventing misconception of threats brought about by perspective and bias and just focusing on the current situation.
  • Effective use of tactical breathing to reduce the fear response.
  • Highlighting the importance of mental training and readiness in managing threats as opposed to physical or skills.
  • Getting administration to take safety and security more seriously and utilize all tools and approaches available in doing so.

Click here to view and register for other upcoming Law Enforcement webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts:


Audience Comments:

  • “Not a new topic, but what an amazing training. … I would like to share it with individuals responsible for our Department’s safety training because it didn’t just focus on physical skills-which seems to be our primary focus.” — Susan
  • “Great information provided by a knowledgeable instructor!” — Alex
  • “Great speaker! Very much enjoyed the webinar. Very knowledgeable and the presentation was filled with useful information. Wish I could sit with him for longer training! — Kit
  • “That what our agency is doing is on the right track; however, convincing staff is another thing. We are using mental preparedness, flow drills, and what-if scenarios, but this training only reinforced the need for MORE TRAINING. many thanks – I can’t wait to share this recording.” — Jennifer
  • “As an Adult Protection Investigator, we go into the residences of all our clients. Situational awareness is very important when entering the residences….We often are alone on this visit and here in Montana, they can be in very rural areas. Up in the mountains and away from any other services.” — Thomas
  • “It was eye opening to get an understanding of daily threats and how one may or may not perceive them. The discussion on distractions was great to hear as we all find ourselves distracted by something in this day and age.” — Rachel
  • “The presenter’s knowledge and presentation were great. — Ryan
  • “I have taken situational awareness trainings in the past. Always a good refresher. This could easily have been a 2-3 hour training. Very informative.” — Jeff
  • “I was glad to hear about additional topics that will be covered by trainings with Scott Kirshner. I have already read several of his books and as a trainer in my agency value any additional insights I can present to those I train.” — Amanda



This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit in Core 1 (ACO Safety) for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.




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