10,000 Volts is a technology assisted debriefing tool which uses networked computers to capture text input from an unlimited number of anonymous sources simultaneously. The data is immediately visible to all users as it enters the system, although it remains non-attributable to source.
The anonymity of the system reduces inhibition and encourages users to express the emotional element of their reasoning and decision making processes, therefore increasing the prospect of collecting data which is both holistic and candid. Each session is facilitated to focus the group to the parameters and scope of the incident being explored.
The system is entirely mobile and can be set up at any venue. Alternatively, participants can work at locations remote from each other and interact via the World Wide Web. The system was recently used to debrief borough commanders remotely via a secure police intranet whilst they remained at their places of work.
The first step in exploring decision making in critical incidents is to define the research environment; that is, to develop an understanding of the social, organisational, cultural and political contexts in which decisions are made. This in turn will aid an appreciation of the complexity and frustrations of the policing and multi-agency worlds of critical incident management. One particularly effective way of achieving this goal is to build a detailed archive of critical incident management cases. 10,000 Volts is a valuable method for developing this 'Critical Incident Lexis', and thereby identifying the landscape of these complex and chaotic incidents.