Technology with a Purpose

Archive for June, 2012

Registration Now Open for Upcoming User Group Workshops

TargetSolutions will be conducting two User Group Workshops in the coming weeks in an effort to help inform both prospects and existing clients about the platform. The first meeting will be Monday, July 23 at the San Jose Fire Department. A few weeks later on Friday, Aug. 3 during Fire-Rescue International in Denver, TargetSolutions will conduct another session at the Crowne Plaza.

The first event will start at 10 a.m. TargetSolutions will be discussing best practices for the platforms new, upgraded interface, demonstrating our new CICCS applications and answering questions. Several clients will be on hand to show how they are using the powerful program. A complimentary lunch will be provided.

In August at FRI, TargetSolutions will be discussing these same topics, including ISO tracking and best practices for recordkeeping, as well as conducting an in-depth Q&A. The event is scheduled from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and TargetSolutions will be hosting breakfast.

If you’re interested in attending either event or would like more information, please click here to e-mail the marketing department. We can’t wait to see you there!

“Both of these User Group Workshops are great opportunities for us to show our platforms capabilities”, said Director of Client Services Jenny Fergason. “Both sessions will be beneficial to prospects and clients. We truly enjoy spending time with clients and discussing how TargetSolutions can help a department save time and money.”

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

Media and the Fire Service: What You Need to Know

Blog by Stuart Sprung
Training Specialist, Oceanside Fire Department

If you’re like me, you’ve probably never been able to make one of those PIO (Public Information Officer) training classes or seminars. As a result, your training on how to handle the media during incidents is limited to those fleeting moments when a reporter’s microphone is in your face.

If you’re in the fire department, and this hasn’t happened to you yet, rest assured, it will one day. Here are a few things to keep in mind when that day comes:

Just about every department has its own policy for handling media requests. Its important to know your policy and understand the ramifications of straying from it.

Each department should have a point person, or a public information officer (PIO), who is trained and experienced with interacting with the media. If you’re working at a fire or other major incident, stopping to interact with the press is not your priority, and could even be unsafe for you, your co-workers and even the media. So whenever you are asked to stop and comment, its best to politely direct them toward the PIO, battalion chief or whoever it is that is responsible for this duty.

PIOs know what to say, they understand the bigger picture, and they have all the facts. It’s key to keep the information being distributed consistent and accurate. There have been incidents in the past where an organization didn’t have the proper structure for dealing with the press and the wrong message was disseminated. That can turn into a political nightmare, so be careful.

That being said, it’s also very important to understand that a good rapport with the media is crucial. Although it’s the PIOs job to nurture their relationship with the media, we have to remember that we are all public representatives for our agencies.

For most incidents, a fire department PIO will use a press release, with specific details about an emergency, to distribute information. This helps keep the media from digging around and funnels questions back to one person, the PIO.

One thing for the fire department PIO to remember is that accuracy is his main priority with any and all information released. Small details, like the exact spelling of a name, are vitally important for reporters. The information reporters need to do their job is rather simple — who, when, where, what, why and how — but it has to be accurate. PIOs will feel pressure to get information out quickly, because time is crucial for reporters, but accuracy must come first.

If someone in the press approaches you after a serious accident, where there may have been a fatality or a serious injury, its absolutely paramount you don’t offer up any opinions. Saying the wrong thing can be used against you and your department. Again, by far your best move is to tell the reporter to speak with the PIO.

Another important consideration is the safety of the media themselves during potentially dangerous incidents. Although reporters and camera operators are for the most part professional and maintain a safe, respectful distance, there are times when they are unaware of hazards. While the police are very knowledgeable and effective at maintaining crowd control, sometimes they are overwhelmed or otherwise occupied.

So it becomes everybody’s job to maintain a safe scene. If you happen to notice a media member too close to a potentially hazardous scene, don’t be afraid to make contact with them, and courteously inform them of the hazard. Also, do not hesitate to inform your company officer or IC. Keep in mind that the media have rights to a presence in the public domain. In fact, unless its a crime scene, there are virtually no limitations to how close they can come. The most we can do is to inform them why its unsafe, and in my experience, they respond favorably to direction.

Lastly, don’t forget that your fire department can use the media for your own purposes as well. In a recent twin-engine plane crash in Oceanside, Calif., it only took one hour to recreate the events that led to the crash through eyewitness accounts that were given through the media and discussion boards attached to the story’s articles.

The day of real-time information is here, and we can use it to better understand why certain emergencies happen.

About the Author
After graduating from the University of California, San Diego Stuart Sprung completed his paramedic training and joined the San Francisco fire department as a firefighter/paramedic. He also worked as a flight medic for FEMA. The next 16 years gave him experience responding to thousands of federal, state, and local emergencies. Stu currently functions as a commercial pilot for a financial institution. He is now a fire training specialist for the Oceanside Fire Department.

After Buying Into Technical Wizardry, San Angelo Fire Department Experiences Improved Recordkeeping Recertification

The San Angelo Fire Department has been putting out fires since the late 1800s. The department serves a city with a population of about 100,000 deep in the heart of Texas and it is even deeper in history and tradition.

So it makes sense some of the departments veteran firefighters were a bit reluctant about training on the cloud with TargetSolutions’ web-based platform.

“Most of the guys were willing to change over and are pretty versed in computers, but some who were used to the old methods wanted to stick to their guns,” said the departments EMS Instructor Santos Elizondo. “Some of the older guys wanted to do it the old way regardless of what kind of technical wizardry came around.”

It’s times like this when the “brotherhood” really comes into play, Elizondo says. Facing some initial pushback after signing up with TargetSolutions in April of 2010, several younger employees came to the aid of their senior coworkers and helped them see the flexibility and superiority to completing mandated training requirements online.

“The younger guys brought them in and helped show them how,” Elizondo said. “It’s a brotherhood. The younger guys couldn’t do the assignments for them, but they really made it a family affair. The younger guys took care of the older guys — so while the older guys were teaching the physical side of things, the younger guys were teaching the technical side. Eventually everyone was going in the same direction.”

After overcoming these initial challenges, TargetSolutions started flourishing for the department with 163 personnel and eight stations across a territory that expands 1,500 square miles. Prior to TargetSolutions, the department was conducting its mandatory training through what Elizondo affectionately calls paper training.

“Our previous way of conducting training was tedious and archaic; it was truly a nightmare,” Elizondo said. “We wanted to find a vendor who could help us hold our personnel accountable, complete training in a timely manner and not burn down a forest every time we conducted training. There was just a massive amount of paper going out every month. After visiting with several vendors, we found the solution we needed.”

San Angelo selected TargetSolutions and immediately benefited from its robust catalog of training courses that includes 250 hours of Fire and EMS recertification material. In combination with the catalog was a recordkeeping system that streamlined the entire training management process, Elizondo said.

“Guys used to always be wondering where they were for recertification,” Elizondo said. Now they were able to get the data and an instant response to their efforts — kind of like when they are in the field and they give a drug to patient and immediately see if its working or not. With TargetSolutions they can complete an assignment and see where it is and know the data has been taken.

These powerful training tools make it easy to track training assignments and generate comprehensive reports that satisfy stringent audits, like the type conducted by ISO.

“With TargetSolutions we’re able to complete an audit faster,” Elizondo said. “With 12 to 20 people recertifying at any given time, it can really chew up time. Now with TargetSolutions, were able to do it much faster and it’s much more convenient. Guys are able to obtain their goals much easier.”

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

The Life and Times of the ‘Inside Man’

Blog by Ed Hadfield
www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com

As a member assigned to a truck or engine you will be tasked with a variety of objectives. Many require operating somewhat independently. Case in point, the duties of being the Inside Man, or as I like to call it, the Interior Situational Awareness Officer.

Now I understand this is a mouthful, but the concept is more important than the name. Generally, the Inside Man is responsible for bringing a blower to the door, pulling ceilings in the immediate overhead, coordinating the use of PPV with vertical ventilation and working with the fire attack team to do search duties. This job is very important in the overall success of an operation.

This assignment, however, should have a direct link to the Incident Commander, providing him with accurate data to understand the situation from within, rather than from the exterior of the structure a block away.

This person would be responsible for conducting an outside exterior scan of the structure. Any identifiable structural collapse considerations, hostile-event recognition factors or roof assembly exposures would be immediately communicated to the Incident Commander and the companies operating in the interior.

Additionally, building profile identification is key and would include the age and type of the structure. This determines the fires strengths and weaknesses based upon the building profile and construction components.

In addition, the conditions at the point of egress must be taken into consideration. Reading the rapid development of pressurization should be communicated if it is a threat to the safety of personnel on the interior.

The use of a TIC should also be considered as a tool to determine fire in the overhead and potential collapse in the area of main egress from the structure. While making that determination it is important to identify the proper use of PPV.

Remember there are five recognizable elements in determining if PPV is appropriate or not. If any of these five exists, PPV should not be considered as the primary source of ventilation.

1) Working an attic fire or a fire in an overhead concealed space that would impinge upon roof features while personnel are inside the interior of the structure.

2) Unknown location of the fire or an inability to locate the fire by interior crews.

3) Inability or lack of an adequate-sized exhaust portal for PPV usage.

4) Imminent or confirmed rescue of a civilian or down firefighter.

5) Structure that is over-pressurized for the use of PPV or rapid fire development.

All of the considerations above are generally recognized by the Inside Man while performing exterior job assignments. This helps them make adjustments to their plan and provide a higher degree of safety for interior personnel with concise communications to the Incident Commander.

Once the Inside Man transitions to the interior of the structure, their threat analysis increases. First, their understanding of the roof assembly and the destructive effects of fire and exposure to fire on these features need to be forefront. In addition to pulling ceilings in the immediate overhead of the main access point with a scan of the assembly, both visually and TIC assisted, it’s important to identify the number of hoselines through the access point and the number of personnel assigned to the hoselines.

NIOSH Firefighter Data and Injury Report Data has shown that two or more hoselines through an access portal create a spaghetti-like impact that increases the odds of personnel failing to egress out of a structure on their hoselines in the event of a hostile event or collapse situation.

Recognizing this, corrective action may be taken to minimize this potential. Keeping hoselines pulled straight and tight, while providing ample egress portals will reduce the risk of injury and entrapment of interior personnel.

The Inside Man’s ability to identify rapid fire development within the structure, based upon changing interior conditions, reports from the roof division as to progress and conditions of ventilation heat holes and firefighter access holes in common corridors or center hallways, along with the exterior size-up communications from the I-RIC companies, determine the next course of action.

One simple task is to first determine the location of interior crews and identify both accountability and air management of those personnel while sizing up the area they are actively involved in firefighting activity, search procedures or fire extension activities.

Along with the normal assigned task, the Inside Man becomes the interior eyes and ears of the Incident Commander. Historically this has been tasked to a senior Company Officer assigned on a hoseline or an interior position. However, with split-company operations in limited to zero visibility environments, the Inside Man can double the effective safety envelope by following those above actions for the Incident Commander.

As well as the possibility of those assigned interior crews being limited in their ability to identify critical safety factors previously discussed due to task overload.

It may seem like an impossible situation for the Inside Man to accomplish all these objective, bear in mind, it’s a simple algorithm to follow based upon facts, presentations, input, information and task expectations and outcomes.

As always, Sit back and enjoy the Cuppa!

About the Author
Ed Hadfield has more than 26 years of fire service experience after rising through the ranks from firefighter to division chief. He is a frequent speaker on leadership, sharing his experiences within the fire service and also with corporate and civic leaders throughout the United States. For more on Hadfield, please check online at www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com.

Answers Are Just a Few Clicks Away With TargetSolutions’ New Help System

You know all about TargetSolutions’ powerful online training and records management system. But have you heard about the platforms comprehensive web-based Help System?

Site administrators and users can now stay updated with announcements and upgrades, search for useful platform-related help threads and step-by-step instructions and view support videos on TargetSolutions recently released Help System.

“Our platform is extremely user-friendly for both administrators and users, but if anyone ever has any questions, our online Help System is a great tool for finding quick answers to the most common questions clients have,” Jenny Fergason, Director of Client Services, TargetSolutions.

“The Help System can be easily accessed through the newly upgraded platform with the Help tab atop the menu bar. Clients still operating the older platform are encouraged to contact TargetSolutions client services department to upgrade. The latest Help System is only compatible with the new system,” Fergason said.

“This is another benefit to the new platform,” Fergason said. “Not only is it far more intuitive and engaging, with several new applications to help clients manage training more efficiently, but it’s complete with an integrated and constantly updated Help System.

“That’s one of the best things about this — it’s updated in real time. The platform is constantly undergoing enhancements, and with this new web-based help documentation, we can easily make changes.

“In the past we relied on a PDF document and sustaining updates was very difficult and time-consuming. We’re really excited users now have such easy access to comprehensive and reliable help information.”

The Help System currently features 30 tutorial videos — including an in-depth Administrator Basics Video — for completing various administrative tasks inside the platform. Users can also communicate with a live TargetSolutions client services representative — during normal business hours (Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays) — through “Chat” functionality; as well as access a Web page for requesting platform enhancements.

Fergason said clients find great value in the Search capability that operates like any normal search engine. While the new system makes finding answers easier than ever before, clients are still welcome to call at any time of the day with questions on operating the platform.

“In Client Services, we pride ourselves on providing the highest level of service available,” Fergason said. “From getting your organization set up to ongoing support, you can expect nothing but the best from our team.”

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

TargetSolutions to Hold User Group Workshop in July

TargetSolutions is conducting a special User Group Workshop on Monday, July 23 at the San Jose Fire Department. Discussion will start at 10 a.m. We will be discussing best practices for the platform’s new, upgraded interface, demonstrating our new CICCS applications and answering questions. Several clients will be on hand to show how they are using the powerful program.

“This is a great opportunity for us to show our platform’s capabilities,” said Director of Client Services Jenny Fergason. “We’re really excited to have the event and thankful to the San Jose Fire Department for allowing us to do it there. It’s going to be very informative and we enjoy getting together with clients and prospects to discuss how TargetSolutions streamlines training management.”

If you’re interested in attending, please click here to e-mail the marketing department and register for the event. And in case you’ve never attended one of our user group workshops before, you can count on a fantastic lunch hosted by TargetSolutions! So sign-up today!

Agenda
10-11:30 a.m. Platform discussion
11:30-1 p.m. Lunch hosted by TargetSolutions
1-3:30 p.m. CICCS demonstration

Location
San Jose Fire Department
255 South Montgomery, San Jose, CA 95110

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

Showing Leadership and Influencing Others

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

An officer best exemplifies leadership by devoting a major portion of his/her time to help stimulate improvement in both subordinates and the organization.

Today’s leaders are utilizing contemporary leadership styles: charismatic leadership, transformational leadership, transactional leadership and symbolic leadership. Officers need to know when to use each of these styles for optimum outcomes within the organization.

Charismatic: Inspires followers to be loyal and creates an enthusiastic vision that others work to attain.

Transformational: This style depends on the continuous learning, innovation and change within the organization. True transformational leadership is a rare quality.

Transactional: Involves an exchange between the leader and the followers in which the followers perform tasks effectively in exchange for rewards provided by the leader.

Symbolic: Bases theory on a strong organizational culture that holds common values and beliefs. Leadership starts are the top of the organization and extends downward. Subordinates must have full faith and trust in the leadership of the organization.

It is important that leaders be able to match and effectively utilize any of these various leadership styles, based on the types of individuals they are leading, to effectively lead their fire department or company.

This focuses on truly understanding the organizational theories, interpersonal dynamics and group dynamics of the individuals and groups that make up the organization. If you look at it closely, you will find most leaders utilize multiple leadership styles on individuals of the group simultaneously to effectively achieve desired outcomes.

Each of these leadership styles are a result of the various traits of an organization’s leaders. It’s important for officers to know the strengths and weaknesses of each theory and style, along with being capable of applying the principles that are most appropriate in any given situation.

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.

Training When New Equipment is Put into Service

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway
Web Master for Situational Awareness Matters (www.SAmatters.com)

I recently had an opportunity to talk with a frustrated firefighter. He described a situation where he came to work for his shift and, as he always does, started his day by performing a safety check of his personal gear and his self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). When he opened the cabinet door on the apparatus he could hardly believe his eyes.

There, staring back at him was a new SCBA, a brand different than before with functionality completely different than the SCBA he was familiar with. Neither he, nor anyone on his shift, had received notification, let alone any training on how to use this new piece of critical equipment. It was left for him and his coworkers to figure out on their own.

Such an act of incompetence in the part of this department’s senior management, command staff and training staff seems incomprehensible but it happened. The firefighters on this department were left to fend for themselves and to teach themselves how to use their new SCBA.

The liability the fire department assumed for this egregious act is enormous. All it is going to take is for a firefighter to be injured or killed and a savvy investigator to start asking the right questions about the department’s SCBA training, along with a request to see the training documentation that each firefighter was properly trained. As much as it pains me to think taxpayer dollars are going to be used to settle that suit, it causes much more angst to know whatever the consequences for the firefighter(s) it could have been avoided with proper leadership and training.

Situational awareness requires a conscious effort to capture clues and cues in an often hectic and hostile environment. This required a lot of brain power. If responders need to use some of their precious cognitive energy to figure out how to use their equipment on the fly, their situational awareness is going to suffer and that is going to put them at risk.

Any time new equipment is put into service it should be done so with thoughtful planning and consideration for the safety of the end user. This includes informing personnel the equipment is coming and providing opportunities for training and practice with the new equipment before it must be used on an actual emergency scene.

About the Author
Dr. Gasaway is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and decision-making processes used by first responders. In addition to his 30-plus year career in the fire service, including 22 years as a fire chief, Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in brain science for the benefit of first responders. Dr. Gasaway’s website named Situational Awareness Matters can be found online at www.SAMatters.com. He can be reached at Support@RichGasaway.com.