NSF-funded research will examine how responders perform in crises

Early responders prepare in a makeshift headquarters

Image: School of Public Health

A research team from Texas A&M University has been awarded a $239,870 National Science Foundation grant to study how emergency response teams work and interact with people and technology during crisis situations.

Led by Camille Peres, an assistant professor at the School of Public Health, and Farzan Sasangohar, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, the team will go beyond previous work and look into how incident management teams, known as IMTs, function as a single unit.

“Our study will research how IMTs work using two relatively new concepts: human-team interaction, which focuses on how individuals interact with teams as a whole, and team-machine interaction, which looks into how teams work with tools and technologies,” Peres said. “We will focus on actual emergency responders as they work through realistic simulations at a variety of training centers.”

By working with real responders in true-to-life emergency scenarios, the research team’s findings should be highly applicable to real-world situations. The project will also serve as a proof of concept for human-team interaction and team-machine interaction, and their findings provide the first step to better understand how people, teams and technologies interact in high-stakes and time-sensitive situations.

Research findings will have applications beyond emergency response and contribute to knowledge in fields like social and organizational psychology and systems engineering.

This grant is part of the National Science Foundation’s Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research program, which is meant to help develop promising early-stage research ideas.

Researchers will use the Texas A&M ADVANCE Center, which also received funds from the foundation, to recruit participants from various underrepresented populations, such as women, minorities and people with disabilities.

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