Critical Decision Making: Point-to-Point Leadership in Fire & Emergency Services

Michael J Barakey
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Critical Decision Making: Point-to-Point Leadership in Fire & Emergency Services

By Michael J Barakey

By nature, competent decisions by emergency responders are challenging because incidents are fluid and dynamic. In Critical Decision Making, Chief Michael Barakey gives emergency first responders the tools to succeed on every incident where they make critical decisions and mitigate incidents daily under stress. This book reviews cases to identify common incident elements that hinder quality decision making, and it introduces point-to-point leadership, a systematic approach to making critical decisions from the time responders are alerted to an incident to its resolution. Understanding how to make critical decisions in this dynamic process is what makes great leaders.


  1. Why points exist
  2. Critical decision making: The single most important factor to success
  3. Point-to-point decision making
  4. Responsibility to make critical decisions
  5. Six steps to becoming a critical decision maker: Immerse, influence, encourage, vision, transform, and implement
  6. Critical decision makers become leaders
  7. The art of critical decision making: Organizational return
  8. The future of critical decision making



“For years, fire rescue training programs have only addressed the concept of critical decision making in a limited way. Chief Barakey tackles this mission critical process in a straight forward, direct, comprehensive and understandable way...A tip of the helmet to Chief Barakey and Fire Engineering Books for delivering such a practical and impactful book.”

—Dennis L. Rubin, Fire Rescue author


“I have had the pleasure of working both professionally and personally with Chief Barakey for more than 25 years. Mike helped me better understand the daily operations of managing a hazardous materials response team. He has crafted a great resource for first responders interested in developing or improving their ability to make critical decisions during the most stressful situations. This step by step process is required reading for anyone that has the task of making critical decisions either on the strategic, tactical, or task level.”

—Murrey Loflin, Battalion Chief (Retired), Virginia Beach Fire Department and federal fatality investigator


“Chief Barakey shares how to blend education, experience and opportunity and develop skills on the smaller incidents where most of us get a second chance to command and learn. He has always been a proponent of sending the elevator back down to show others the best way to move up … Now is the time for your second chance at incident command and emergency service leadership. Read this book and use your second chance while you have it.”

—Stephen Miles, retired Battalion Chief of Safety from the Virginia Beach Fire Department and federal fatality investigator

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