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Avoiding “Look at It” Syndrome in Public Safety
Avoiding “Look at It” Syndrome in Public Safety

Every single time, on every single scene, you’ll find it happening at least once. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s someone else, maybe it’s all of you. Someone will go to make a radio transmission, and they will turn to look off into the distance in the general direction of their portable’s lapel mic. The reasons for this are still unknown to modern science. Perhaps we’re pining for a simpler time when it was just us and our lapel mic, with no calls to get in the way of our silent and happy partnership. Maybe we’re directing our speaking chi to help our radio transmit more powerfully. Or perchance we saw the Ghost of Dispatch Future lurking in our peripheral vision, ready to show us all the things we're going to miss during our shift. Like getting food, probably. While we can’t fathom the true cause of this mystery just yet, we can make some fair deductions about it, the most important of which is this: it’s unnecessary and dangerous, and is the auditory version of tunnel vision, which is a well-documented issue when it comes to missing important things that we should have noticed that are not meal-related. It is also part of a more general group of distractions that many people in public safety have made routine, simply because most of us have never had anything bad happen while doing them. Yet. Also among that category are: assuming that you have a Bubble of Invincibility on a MVC scene on the highway because of the flashing lights on your vehicle, believing that a calm individual does not have the potential to suddenly turn violent, thinking that you don’t really need PPE for a given scenario, and one of the most dangerous, living under the impression that your badge or uniform will protect you on its own simply because you are public safety. We can lump all of these into something I’ll call “Look at It” syndrome, where the most pressing stimulus in terms of your current actions, or the scene itself, combined with assumptions about the present which are based upon the past, are the ones that command your attention the most. While this is a normal reaction, and helped our caveman ancestors to turn their attention to the rampaging predator about to make them into lunch, as opposed to their current task of whittling a better version of...

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