Technology with a Purpose

Archive for February, 2012

Save Money with Your Online Training Investment in TargetSolutions

In today’s world, fire departments have no choice but to watch their bottom line. When making an online training investment, they need to be confident they are making a prudent business decision.

TargetSolutions understands completely. That is why were absolutely dedicated to helping clients reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.

roi-calculator-image“Our goal is to deliver easy-to-use technology that can help an organization improve productivity and save money,” said TargetSolutions Vice President of Operations Thom Woodward. “With our platform, organizations can schedule training and monitor compliance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our training has proven to reduce injuries and claims, resulting in an excellent return on investment.”

TargetSolutions powerful, easy-to-use platform gives departments of all sizes and budgets the opportunity to save money while enhancing their training program. With TargetSolutions, you can schedule and deliver more than 250 hours of approved Fire and EMS online courses, while eliminating the costly administrative expenses associated with traditional training activities.

Here are some of the ways TargetSolutions helps you save money:

  • Reduces overtime associated with training activities
  • Eliminates costly travel and fuel expenses
  • Increases employees retention of training material and decreases work-related injury claims

TargetSolutions helps organizations maintain compliance and improve their personnel’s’ skill level, keeping emergency responders safe and productive. With TargetSolutions departments can take courses 24/7 and employees can train at their own pace, dramatically increasing comprehension.

Bottom line: TargetSolutions helps reduce injuries, increases productivity and saves money. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are some quotes from clients who are experiencing significant cost savings with TargetSolutions:

Stuart Sprung, Training Specialist for Oceanside Fire Department (Calif.)
“We’ve never done a cost-benefit analysis. But (TargetSolutions) is worth every penny. The best way I can put it, is that it’s the best money a department can spend per training hour logged.”

Eric Peterson, 2nd Lieutenant for Ocean City Fire Department (Fla.)
“TargetSolutions is convenient, cost effective, and easy to use. With it, we have decreased our training expenses and improved our ability to track all types of instruction.”

Michelle Schafer, Director of Support Services for Shasta County (Calif.)
“Our annual TargetSolutions cost is less than $25,000 and our return-on-investment exceeds $1 million. Now, that’s a no-brainer! The TargetSolutions product also goes a long way toward helping us comply with various mandated training requirements and avoiding costly penalties that could be charged if we did not provide training.”

Dino Batalis, Fire Chief, City of Lawrence Fire Department (Ind.)
“I don’t think you can put a value (on TargetSolutions). If these vehicles are able to stay in their districts, the response time is much quicker than having to travel from a central location. Cost savings? Definitely, but time, effort, support things that we can’t put a number on all the way to quicker response time to the people we serve.”

Rick Talbert, Fire Chief for South Walton Fire District (Fla.)
“As a cost savings measure, to be able to have (TargetSolutions) training and to be able to do it without having to travel great distances is to our advantage.

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for fire and EMS departments. These solutions enable departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all station-level tasks, certifications and training activities.

Personal Protective Equipment: Back to the Basics

Blog by Brian Ward
Chief of Emergency Operations, Training Director for Georgia Pacific

How much do you know about your Personal Protective Equipment, specifically, your bunker gear? How well can you perform your job duties wearing the gear you have?

Understanding the basics of PPE and training in our gear are some key principles that will help us stay safe. The more information we know about how gear is properly put together, the safer we will be.

Several topics should be discussed when considering different types of gear. What may be good for one department in the northern part of the country may not be suitable for another department in the southern part or on the coast. It is important to point out that each of these topics is not mutually exclusive they all have an impact on each other:

>> Total Heat Loss is basically the breathability of gear. The higher the numerics, the better the firefighter’s body heat will dissipate. This could lead to cooling the core temperature of a firefighter and preventing such situations as heat stroke and over-exertion. According to NFPA 1971, a minimum of 205 watts per square meter must be met.

>> Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) represents how much conductive and radiant heat the gear will shield from a firefighter through all layers of the ensemble. At first thought, the higher the TPP rating, the better off a firefighter would be, however, this is not only false but also dangerous. As the TPP rating is increased, firefighters might be inclined to proceed further and envelop themselves in elevated temperatures where they should not be. In addition, the higher the TPP rating the lower the THL will be. It’s a trade-off.

>> CCHR was incorporated into the testing procedure as a method of examining the shoulder and knee areas of our PPE. This test is conducted with wet and dry gear at a starting temperature of 536 degrees, as a method of comparing the insulation provided by the PPE when it comes in contact with hot surfaces. According to NFPA 1971, it should take 25 seconds for the temperature of the opposite side of the gear to rise 43 degrees.

As you review gear, look at surrounding departments and examine the specifications they are using. Remember, there is no one perfect set of gear for every department. Choose the gear with the right combination for your department. In addition, no matter what gear you have, understand how it operates and know its limitations. Anyone can tie a knot, but can everyone tie a knot with gloves on, and correctly?

The only way to know these limits is to train and train often in a multitude of situations. Training for familiarization and in realistic environments will assist in developing these necessary skills.

Try this drill: Have a firefighter bunker out (pants and boots only) and blackout their SCBA mask. Take the remaining parts and spread them throughout the station in areas where they could obtain them by performing a primary search of the structure. Place the items so that the firefighters have to build their ensemble as they complete the search. This drill is simple, non-hazardous, and will assist in familiarization with their equipment. In the end the firefighter should be breathing air and dressed as if they were entering a burning building. Make sure that the gloves are the first item they come to and that everything is completed without the removal of their mask.

Train hard, take care and be safe.

About the Author
Brian Ward is chief of emergency operations and training director for Georgia Pacific in Madison (Ga.). He is a past training officer for Gwinnett County (Ga.), chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council.

TargetSolutions Hosts User Group in San Diego Giving Clients Opportunity to Provide Feedback on Training

TargetSolutions realizes its ascension to becoming the industry’s leading provider of web-based training and records management services would not have been possible without some very important contributions. More specifically, the contributions of its customers.

“We are incredibly grateful to the clients who have helped us through the years understand what our platform is striving to deliver,” says Alex Day, who is TargetSolutions’ director of information technology and has been with the company for a large chunk of its 12-year history. “Without them, our platform wouldn’t be where it is today.”

That’s why Day and the rest of TargetSolutions were thrilled to host a user group at the downtown San Diego Marriott on Feb. 22 during the Firehouse World expo. TargetSolutions gathered more than 50 clients to learn tips and tricks and offer feedback to the company’s technology and client services departments.

“We want you to challenge us and tell us what we need to do to make our system better,” TargetSolutions’ CEO Jon Handy said during the events introductions. We owe it to you to do everything possible to make our platform the very best it can be. We’re proud to be able to serve you and we are absolutely committed to providing the best platform on the market today.

With standing room only, attendees enjoyed a demonstration of the platforms newly upgraded interface, a sneak-peek of several soon-to-be-released applications and a constructive question-and-answer session. Client service representatives were also in attendance and covered questions on implementing videos into content, setting alert notifications and utilizing previously-made custom activities.

“This is the second time I’ve attended a user group and its really a tremendous opportunity,” said Mike Bilheimer, who manages 165 users on the system as the division chief for San Bernardino City Fire Department. “TargetSolutions puts this together to help us improve on how we use the software. I really enjoy being a part of it and learning about the platform.”

Tony Hernandez, who serves as the training captain for Cal Fire San Diego, was impressed with the new California Incident Command Certification System application, which is scheduled to be released later this year. The tool combines Activities Builder with Credentials Manager to effectively report CICCS Red Card status.

“The new CICCS app is very useful,” Hernandez said. “Cal Fire is one of the main players in wildland credentials, so it’s a step in the right direction.The user group has been informative. As a training officer, I’m always looking for ways to better utilize the product.”

Some of the attendees came to the event to learn how their peers are utilizing the system, which is the industry’s most robust online training, recordkeeping and compliance solution for public entities.

“It’s a great opportunity to network and see what other people are doing with TargetSolutions,” said Christine Boozer, who is the civilian training officer for the City of Fresno Fire Department. “TargetSolutions is really willing to listen to us and that’s great.”

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for fire and EMS departments. These solutions enable departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all station-level tasks, certifications and training activities.

Municipal Emergency Services Chooses TargetSolutions as Provider for Online Training and Records Management Services

TargetSolutions, the U.S. leader in online training and records management solutions for municipalities including Fire, EMS, Police and other public entities, has joined forces with Municipal Emergency Services to deliver the industrys leading web-based platform to the Fire and EMS community. The agreement to work together was announced Tuesday, Feb. 22 during the Firehouse World conference in San Diego.

MES is the largest supplier of first responder equipment, including Globe Manufacturing personal protective equipment, Honeywell First Responder Products, Scott Air-Paks, and much more, for first responders in North America. “The decision to include TargetSolutions to MES impressive lineup of products made total sense,” said MES Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Skaryak.

“We chose to partner with TargetSolutions because it is the pioneer in web-based solutions,” Skaryak said. “We are confident TargetSolutions will provide the best solution for our EMS, Fire and First Responder customers.”

MES, which has done business with more than 20,000 fire departments during its 11-year history, will undoubtedly increase TargetSolutions’ visibility with fire departments across the country.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” said TargetSolutions Vice President of Sales and Marketing Jon Kostyzak. “MES has coverage across the United States and this will take TargetSolutions exposure to a new level. We appreciate the confidence of the decision for Municipal Emergency Services chooses TargetSolutions. MES knows we deliver operational efficiency and cost savings to our clients. There is a great synergy in our ability to provide a valuable service and MES ability to reach fire departments across the country.”

Skaryak said MES looked at the overall landscape of the online training and records management industry and determined TargetSolutions was the clear choice to distribute to its customers.

“We chose TargetSolutions because our philosophy is to promote the top brands,” Skaryak said. “It’s important to us that we only promote products that represent a clear value to our customers. TargetSolutions is a tremendous option for first responders who are looking to train, track and report with a web-based solution.”

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for fire and EMS departments. These solutions enable departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all station-level tasks, certifications and training activities.

TargetSolutions Excited to Team Up With Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs

The Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs has teamed up with TargetSolutions to provide its members with access to the industry’s leading online training and records management system.

The SEAFC will soon make TargetSolutions available to its members, providing them with user-level access to training resources from departments across the country. The SEAFC will have the ability to create and deliver training activities and other communications through the system, as well as store resources in a password-protected online location.

“We are extremely excited about this partnership,” said Jeff Oathout, who is TargetSolutions regional manager for the southeast. “We appreciate the confidence the SEAFC has shown in us and we are excited to be able to show its members our platforms capabilities.”

TargetSolutions was founded in 1999 and has grown into the industry’s leader in web-based training services for the fire service. The company strives to deliver easy-to-use technology that can help departments improve productivity and save money. With TargetSolutions, departments are able to schedule training and monitor compliance 24 hours a day, seven days week.

“We are happy about the opportunity to work with the SEAFC,” said Jennifer Antinone, who will serve as the SEAFC’s account manager. “We want to make this experience beneficial to everyone. We feel our platform makes life easier for users and l look forward to helping the SEAFC’s members as they learn what the platform can provide.”

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for fire and EMS departments. These solutions enable departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all station-level tasks, certifications and training activities.

Dedication and Commitment: The Guts to Do More

Blog by Doug Cline
International Society of Fire Service Instructors, Vice President

As fire service instructors, we have a duty to provide the highest quality of service and instruction. We need to be our students’ inspiration, pushing them to strive for excellence.

But there’s a question we need to answer: Are we, ourselves, dedicated and committed enough?

Instructors need to stop and look in the mirror. The future of the fire service rests on our shoulders. That’s why it’s imperative that organizations, leaders and instructors take a hard look at how training is being delivered.

There are numerous ways to do this. Reaction questionnaires can be given to students. Subject-matter experts or senior trainers can audit training sessions. Test scores can be analyzed. Other instructors can perform peer assessments. These are just some of the methods.

The optimum time to evaluate the work of an instructor is while they are actually in the process of delivering a training session. Observation is recommended. However, observation is only effective if it is driven by standards that are objective, comprehensive, reliable and accurate.

Follow these steps to evaluate the delivery of training:

Step 1: Identify and define the objectives of the evaluation and determine how this process will work. Determine why the evaluation is being conducted. One reason may be to provide feedback on an instructor or a specific delivery issue. It also may be to evaluate the overall competence of an instructor.

Step 2: Consider how the information will be summarized and to whom it will be reported. Evaluation data can serve many purposes and can be interpreted different ways. It’s important that clear decisions define why, when and from whom data is being collected. It’s also important to evaluate what information is collected and its relation to the original objectives, which caused the need for the evaluation.

Step 3: Identify and define the specific competencies and performances to be measured. First, you must determine which competencies will serve as the basis of the evaluation. Typically, a detailed evaluation involves no more than three competencies where a more general evaluation may evaluate multiple competencies. Secondly, the objectives of the evaluation must be clearly specified. This is so the evaluator and the instructor understand what is being measured.

Step 4: Determine the sources of data. You can obtain evaluation data from a number of different sources. More common methods of data collection are evaluations by evaluators, co-instructors, and peer and self-evaluations. It’s important to remember that evaluators will have varying levels of skill that may influence data.

Step 5: Write the questions. For quality control, questions must be linked to a specific desired outcome for the evaluation. When the questions are written, we can control the specificity or generality of the individual item. These controls are essential to keep the evaluation instrument practical, manageable, reliable and valid.

Step 6: Design the format and layout of the instrument. Evaluation instruments must be written clearly and concisely for what is being measured. The evaluation must contain unambiguous directions for use and feature ordered questions or items to be evaluated. Instruments must be user friendly. This means easy to read and use and enough space for documentation.

Step 7: Pilot-test the instrument and obtain feedback. Prior to using a document for program evaluation, allow it to be pilot-tested. This will allow others to provide feedback on the instruments adequacy and usefulness. This pilot-test helps evaluators determine how well the instrument design and layout meets the objectives you are looking for. It also allows for the evaluation of the instrument to ensure its designed to provide what its intended to do. Since instrument development is time consuming and costly, it’s imperative to evaluate the tool to ensure it will provide the best information possible.

Step 8: Create the final instrument and implement the evaluation. The final instrument must provide the data needed to ensure training achieves its objectives or job performance requirements. Instruments may be used to assess a variety of aspects focused around training. The instrument may be used to assess the instructor’s performance and usefulness of instructional methods, course materials and content.

Effective fire service organizations must recognize their responsibilities to assist in the professional development of their instructors. Fire service instructors must also realize they have areas that need development.

As the leaders of the fire service, instructors need to have the guts to do more. We should be setting a precedent for the future. We start by looking at the man in the mirror.

About the Author
Douglas Cline is a student of the fire service serving as training commander with the City of High Point (N.C.) Fire Department and assistant chief of administration with the Ruffin Volunteer Fire Department. Cline is a North Carolina Level II Fire Instructor, National Fire Academy Instructor and an EMT-Paramedic instructor/coordinator for the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. Cline is a member of the North Carolina Society of Fire Service Instructors and the International Society of Fire Service Instructors where he serves on the Board of Directors as The First Vice President.

TargetSolutions Excited to Sponsor Special Event for the Burn Institute at Firehouse World

Firehouse World is coming to San Diego for the 10th year in a row but there’s a new twist this time around. The inaugural Fire Service Appreciation Night on the U.S.S. Midway will kick off the conference and is open to all attendees.

The special event for the Burn Institute is being hosted by Municipal Emergency Services and is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. The suggested donation for attending is $20, which covers all food and drinks as well as live music by the Bill Magee Blues Band.

The Burn Institute is a nonprofit health agency dedicated to reducing the number of burn injuries and deaths in San Diego, Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. TargetSolutions is contributing to the event as a Platinum sponsor.

“We are very excited to participate with MES on this great opportunity to help support the special event for the Burn Institute,” said Jon Kostyzak, who is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for TargetSolutions. “The Burn Institute is a great organization. They do tremendous work to help burn victims. We’re happy to be able to sponsor this event and help a great organization.”

In addition to the food, drink and music, attendees will experience an up-close look at the longest serving US Naval Aircraft Carrier of the 20th century. They will be able to explore the U.S.S. Midway Museum and ride the adrenaline-pumping flight simulators.

All donations will go to the Burn Institute and they are 100 percent tax deductible. For more information, please check online at www.firehouseworld.com.

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions is the leading provider of web-based technology solutions for fire and EMS departments. These solutions enable departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all station-level tasks, certifications and training activities.

Learning to Be the Boss in the Fire Service

Blog by Alan Brunacini
Retired Phoenix Fire Chief and Author of “Functional Boss Behaviors”

I’ve studied bosses, and I’ve noticed that the best predictor of behavior in an organization is to look at the way the boss behaves. Often times, however, we lose sight of the fact that the relationships between bosses and workers have a direct impact on the level of service an organization provides.

If you ask anyone who has been a boss in the fire service, they’ll probably tell you a lot of stories about the road rash they experienced trying to get it right.

But I’d be willing to bet a lot of them would say, “I wish someone had told me this.”

After 50 years in the industry, making observations and learning by experience, I’ve put together some notes on what it takes to be a boss in the fire service. These notes, which I turned into my Functional Boss Behaviors book, which is available as a course through TargetSolutions, outline a set of 10 behaviors that effectively support and assist a worker in delivering standard service and added value:

1. Workers Must Take Good Care of Customers: A great deal of our focus is on customers. These are the people who receive services from us. When we are connected to the customer, we should deliver the best possible service to the customer.

2. Bosses Must Take Good Care of Workers: The relationships inside the organization are the launching pad for how we deliver services. The behavior of the boss is the most powerful thing in our everyday environment. If bosses don’t take care of workers, how can we expect the workers to take care of Mrs. Smith?

3. Build Trust or Go Home: Trust is a basic part of any relationship and is what connects the boss to the worker and to Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith trusts us because we respond quickly, solve her problem, and we’re nice. The workers trust Boss Smith because he responds quickly, solves the problem, and has a supportive relationship with them. Bosses must foster, develop, and then refine the trust relationship inside the system in order to provide the best service outside the organization.

4. Sweat the Big Stuff: The first priority for every boss is that “everyone goes home.” The routine stuff we do is important and ensures we are ready for the tough stuff; however, the boss’s focus should be on the critical stuff that allows us to deliver service and survive that service.

5. Set the Workers Free: When we become bosses, we gain authority and power that we use to create order, deliver adequate service, and take care of the workers. One of the best things a boss can do with that authority is to empower workers to be independent and self-directed.

6. Play Your Position: Organizations essentially consist of three levels strategic, tactical and task. For the organization to be effective, each level must be independently functional and capable, AND they must be interconnected. The challenge is to knit these three levels together in a way that connects the levels to each other, but points the organization toward the customer.

7. Keep Fixin’ the System: We are always operating within a model of continuous improvement. We follow procedures to deliver service and then constantly critique what worked and what went wrong. That model is necessarily boss driven. Bosses must continually look at SOPs, training, and, most importantly, themselves to improve organizational performance.

8. Create “Loyal Disobedience/Insubordination”: The firefighters the workers have the best set of perceptions, experiences, and connections to Mrs. Smith, and often they have ideas about how to improve service. A willingness to come forward with suggestions and bad news is a mature form of organizational commitment and respect. A good boss is accessible and will help solve the problem.

9. All You Got Is All You Get (Anatomy & Physiology): Every boss has different strengths and weaknesses. A boss’s personal effectiveness is dependent on how the boss uses his very personal skills and capabilities. Small improvements can produce big time results in the boss-worker relationship.

10. Don’t Do Dumb Stuff: This is pretty straight forward, but I bet we could talk all day about the dumb stuff we’ve done or seen others do. Workers can easily identify anything the boss does that is self-serving or stupid, which can be really destructive.

I’ve never figured out how to change somebody’s attitude, but I’ve noticed if you can change someone’s behavior, their attitude will change over time. And I don’t think you do that with leadership. You do that with an online, present, conscious, engaged boss.

About the Author
Retired Phoenix Fire Chief Alan Brunacini is one of the preeminent authors and pioneers of the fire service industry. Chief Brunacini is a 1960 graduate of the Fire Protection Technology program at Oklahoma State University and he earned a degree in political science from Arizona State University in 1970. He graduated from the Urban Executives Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973 and received a Master of Public Administration degree from Arizona State in 1975.

Boiling Point Avoiding the Hypertensive Fallout

Blog by Todd J. LeDuc
Deputy Chief, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue (Fla.)

A published study by the Institute of Medicine calls attention to a national epidemic that is particularly threatening to firefighters across the globe untreated hypertension.

With cardiovascular events one of the leading causes of firefighter morbidity and mortality, unrecognized and untreated hypertension and pre-hypertension must be more aggressively diagnosed and confronted.

More than 70 million Americans suffer from hypertension while an additional 50 million more are close behind with pre-hypertension.

Hypertension contributes to nearly one-third of all cardiac events and is the leading cause of stroke and renal failure. According to the International Association of Firefighters website, 75 percent of firefighters with hypertension do not have it controlled.

The United States Fire Administration has reported in a meta-analysis of firefighter line-of-duty reports that the leading cause of fire service deaths is heart attacks, which accounts for 44 percent of all firefighter deaths.

Furthermore, a Harvard study concluded that while only 5 percent of firefighter’s time is actually spent combating fire, they are 100 times more likely to have a heart attack.

This may be attributed to the extremely psychically demanding rigors of the service and environment that firefighters operate within. This, coupled with risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, heightened cholesterol levels and a sedentary lifestyle, creates an axis of risk.

Several factors were noted that fire service members should realize. First, only 2 percent of adults receive adequate amounts of potassium. This places a higher propensity to elevated blood pressure levels. A concerted effort must be made to eat foods high in potassium.

The recommended daily intake of potassium is 3,500 milligrams. Excellent sources are fish, fruit (especially bananas, apricots, cantaloupe, and grapefruit), peas, beans, and potatoes, among other foods.

Additionally, compounding the propensity toward high-blood pressure is the over consumption of sodium. In fact, the average adult unknowingly takes in 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day when the daily recommended allowance is 2,300 mg.

This is often a byproduct of processed, canned and prepared food son top of additional table salt added to meals to enhance flavor in preparation or at the dinner table. The study also reviewed contributory factors of excess weight and its effect of hypertension. The researchers concluded that modest reductions of 10 pounds in overweight adults through diet and modest exercise would result in an 8 percent decrease in cases of hypertension.

Of course, the first step in combating hypertension or pre-hypertension is identifying it. This can only be done by routinely monitoring your own blood pressure and sharing the results with your healthcare provider.

The Institute of Medicines findings show we can’t rely on our health care professionals to solve this problem. As the commander of your own ship, it’s imperative you take an aggressive role in managing your blood pressure.

As fire service professionals, your cardiovascular risks are greater than those of the general population and as such your diligence should be greater. Hypertension is not named the silent killer without good reason ignorance is not a panacea for wellness and heath.

Make a pledge to learn your pressure, modify your risk and contributory factors, and embark on a path of prevention. Your proactive imitative can prevent you from reaching a boiling point.

About the Author
Todd J. LeDuc is the deputy chief of department for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue in Florida. With more than 25 years in the service, he lecturers and publishes frequently on fire service leadership, safety and wellness topics. He has worked extensively with fire departments in more than a dozen states with master and strategic plans, accreditation, department evaluations and consolidation studies.