Inderscience Publishers

A discussion of decision making applied in incident command

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Rescuers respond to unique emergency situations. Decision making on the scene of an accident is context-bound, embedded in ever-changing environments. Thus, decisions in action sometimes involve huge uncertainty. This paper discusses decision making as part of incident management, as presented in the research literature. Two main theoretical perspectives on decision making in crises are compared. The Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) and Contingent Decision Path perspectives show the similarities and differences in on-scene crisis decision making. In the light of prevailing crisis management research, we conclude that the researcher faces several challenges. Assumptions about experiences, situation awareness, cognitive reasoning and the reconstruction of on-scene behaviour are not easily retrieved. There is a need to develop a better understanding of and methods for rigorous observation and knowledge elicitation of decision making in crisis settings.

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