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Training to Pay Attention to Detail


Emergencies happen on a regular basis, and anyone who has worked a 9-1-1 call knows just how often emergencies happen to people. On an individual level of analysis, the simple act of paying attention to detail can have a tremendous impact on emergency management.

For law enforcement, answering a 9-1-1 call can also mean paying attention to the detail of a situation between individuals who called 9-1-1 and looking for inconsistencies in their stories. For emergency medical services, paying attention to the detail of a 9-1-1 call can help an emergency medical technician decipher a medical emergency: whether the patient is suffering from a diabetic emergency or whether they are just simply intoxicated. For Search and Rescue, any clues in the woods can provide helpful information for a missing person they’re searching for. 

Earlier this year, the Mail Tribune published an article about how search and rescue is working to train volunteers on this important skill.

Ultimately, emergencies require careful attention to detail as it can have a huge impact on the management of the situation - these are important pieces of effective emergency management. At the macro level of analysis, paying attention to the details of a large-scale emergency is imperative for how it can be the difference between effectively managing an emergency and potentially missing something that may have helped the situation.


For those who have worked in some sort of emergency capacity, paying attention to detail is incredibly important. That said, paying attention to detail needs to be emphasized in training sessions for all areas of emergency management.

Teaching about the importance of watching resources, for example, could tremendously help in an emergency management situation as a new volunteer may not contemplate resources and the need to double check issues such as this. It can be difficult for new volunteers to pay close attention to details without having trained specifically for it.

Attention to Detail Isn’t Always Obvious

In Emergency Medical Services, it can be difficult at time to get new students to contemplate the need for paying attention to the details of a medical emergency. Unless a new student has been exposed to a serious, life threatening emergency, it can be difficult for a new EMT to recognize a medical emergency. Thus, training new EMTs to pay attention to the details of emergencies can have tremendously positive consequences. Incidentally, the same is true for all levels of emergency management.

Ultimately, emergencies are critical times for first responders. They need to effectively manage the situation on a micro, and macro level of analysis. One key aspect of this is paying attention to detail, as it can have a tremendous impact.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.