Finding Their Way: Navigation & Cognitive Mapping in Firefighter Training

Authors: Chelsie McWhorter*, University of California Santa Barbara
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: firefighter, navigation, cognitive map, fire training, wayfinding
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Quickly and safely arriving to emergencies where help is needed is arguably one of the most important components of an emergency responder’s job. However, understanding how firefighters navigate their protection areas is a topic few researchers have focused on. Building on a foundation of cognitive mapping, wayfinding and the standard operating procedures of the fire service, this study examines how firefighters form, access and utilize cognitive maps while performing duties of their job. Semi structured interviews and a brief survey were administered to members of volunteer and career-based fire departments in the St. Louis Metro area. In addition, firefighting training materials were reviewed. Analysis and conclusions could be utilized to identify training gaps and improve response times for all emergency responders.

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