4B.2 Implementing Physical Health Best Practices into High-Impact Weather Operations

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: 8:45 AM
151B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Melissa J Lamkin, CIMMS, Norman, OK; and B. Mayes Boustead and J. G. Gibbs

The stress of prolonged high-impact weather operations can take a toll on a meteorologist’s health and occupational wellness, and it is easy to fall into unhealthy habits while working high-stress events. Existing research supports that the unhealthy habits common during high-impact weather operations have a negative impact on a person’s ability to process and retain information. This physical stress can diminish the cognitive abilities of operational meteorologists, which ultimately impedes the quality of their performance during severe events and may impact the quality and timeliness of their warnings. The National Weather Service (NWS) Warning Decision Training Division created a distance learning training module, “Addressing Your Health During Warning Operations,” to ensure we are teaching our current and future NWS staff the skills they need to maintain their occupational health throughout their careers. The goal of this training is to help forecasters recognize signs of physical or cognitive stress during warning operations, identify the importance of maintaining physical and mental health during warning operations, and demonstrate strategies to improve cognitive function and reduce stress. The training is included in the Warning Operations Course Core Decision Making track, and we also include these principles into the Radar Applications Course taken by all incoming meteorologists to teach students these concepts while simulating real world warning operations. The training from early career onward will facilitate including the concepts of addressing health during high-impact weather operations as part of the culture in NWS and extending to our partners in the broadcast media, emergency management, and private sector, recognizing that this is a culture shift for the NWS as a whole. It is crucial to teach these skills to early-career forecasters to help them develop healthy habits that they can carry throughout their career, as well as reaching more experienced forecasters to implement these habits into their day-to-day operations.
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