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Extreme Teams: Toward a Greater Understanding of Multiagency Teamwork During Major Emergencies and Disasters

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/05/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>American Psychologist
Issue number4
Volume73
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)478-490
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Major emergencies are extreme team decision making environments. They are complex, dynamic, high-stakes and fast paced events, wherein successful resolution is contingent upon effective teamwork. Not only do emergency teams coordinate at the intra-team level (e.g., Police team), but they are increasingly required to operate at the inter-team level (e.g., Police, Fire and Ambulance teams). This is in response to the desire for networked and cost-effective practice and due to the evolving nature of modern threats, such as extreme weather events and terrorist attacks, which require a multi- rather than single-agency response. Yet the capacity for interoperability between emergency teams is under researched and poorly understood. Much of the teamwork research is based on student-samples or in artificial lab settings, reducing the salient contextual demands of emergencies (e.g., high-stakes, meaningful risk). Furthermore, the minimal research that has been conducted has tended to provide broad descriptive accounts of challenges faced during emergencies, but failed to develop and test solutions. This paper identifies what is known about emergency teams and highlights why it is an important and timely area for research. It will focus on the challenges and solutions to three areas of team processing: cooperation; coordination and communication. Future research must have a solutions-focussed approach. This can be oriented around areas: training, socio-technical networks, and policies/procedural guidelines. Greater collaboration between academics and practitioners can grow knowledge in this domain, ensuring that interventions to improve emergency teamwork are both contextually grounded and empirically validated.

Bibliographic note

©American Psychological Association, 2018. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000248