“How are we going to do this?”  Few questions challenge rescue team dynamics more than developing and executing a rescue strategy with everyone on the same page and egos in check at a complex, stressful incident. There are generally numerous ways to accomplish a task. The magic that separates a bad team from a good team from a great team is how to quickly decide on a plan and execute it.

Many issues complicate this. Team competency is certainly important. It is a given that you need to master the menu of options available to your team given your environment, equipment, and training. But the most important issue at play is HUMAN. Here are some thoughts that may go through the heads of rescue team members approaching a problem.

“I’m right, I’ve seen this before.”

“I’m in charge but don’t want to tell them what to do, I want to let the group decide.”

“So and so always speaks his ideas first.”

“I don’t want to be a know-it-all so I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

There are competing group dynamic stressors that can hinder making the rapid and accurate decision the casualty ultimately needs. What is the solution? Every team is different, but here are a few thoughts:

-Train on it!!! If you are a team leader, you can lead drills on just coming up with a plan.  We spend so much time on the physicals skills of rescue, what about the mental?  Drilling on this requires zero gear. “Ok folks, here is the scenario, what’s our plan?” Discuss the group dynamics, then run it again.  

-Actively fight your own mental biases for the good of the casualty.  Ask yourself, “Are MY desires what’s best for the situation?” If someone else has a 90% plan, it may be better to run with that for the sake of speed than contribute your refining discussion.  

-If you’re a team leader, it's on you to develop a decision matrix for the team. If team members know what to expect ahead of time, it's much easier to check ego type issues at the door.

Don’t allow the decision process to kill your casualty. Training on plan execution is as important as tactile skill. 

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