An incident in a million

Two weeks ago, on the 5th of August, I followed an incident commander on one of his shifts in order to conduct observations and informal interviews. When we over a coffe break had a discussion about a major chemical accident that happened last year, the most strangest thing took place. Just about when we where discussing my observations from that incident and the need for additional research activities to study the use of information technology on such an incident, the alarm sounded “Major Alarm, Chemical accident, derailed train, ‘L-spot’.
This was exactly the same type of accident on the same location as the one we were discussing. It took a second or so until we realised that it was a real alarm. I wonder how many times a researcher doing qualitative studies will be able to conduct observations on almost the same accident, twice, with over a year apart, especially in the context of fire & rescue services. I am not saying that this accident was identical with the previous one, they were not. But just having a major chemical accident on the same location should in the best of worlds be impossible. Anyway the work at the accident location was successful and this time it took only thirty hours compared to seventeen days as it took the last time.
The type of data I collected range from observation scribbled down as field notes, recorded conversations on my Ipod, photos using my mobilephone camera. In addition to this I will also try to obtain phone records from the primary incident response commanders that worked on-site. Such information could be extracted from the phone company with a letter of acceptance from the involved individuals.

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