Technology with a Purpose

Archive for November, 2012

From Innovation to System Reliability TargetSolutions Is One Step Ahead

TargetSolutions delivers the most powerful online training and records management system on the market today. We are also committed to providing the industry’s most reliable platform. That is why we have invested in the very best technology possible to ensure our system is fast and dependable.

System Reliability: TargetSolutions is proud of the fact our servers consistently exceed 99.9 percent uptime. We utilize top of the line equipment to ensure our database is sound and our customers are satisfied.

Responsive Development: TargetSolutions deploys a progressive management cycle enabling our talented engineers to stay ahead of the curve and quickly deliver applications that exceed our customers’ needs.

Disaster Recovery: TargetSolutions backup datacenter has been strategically positioned to secure our production infrastructure. If a natural disaster strikes, our customers will not experience an outage.

Enhanced Platform: TargetSolutions has revamped its online training and records management system. Our easy-to-use, intuitive platform features powerful tools for training and recordkeeping.

“TargetSolutions is committed to delivering cutting-edge applications that deliver the best technology solutions imaginable,” said TargetSolutions Vice President of Operations Alex Day. “We take great pride in providing our clients with a reliable system.”

What Clients Are Saying About TargetSolutions’ New and Improved Platform

After updating the TargetSolutions platform, we asked for client feedback to see what they think:
Ken Treffinger of Sarasota County Fire Department
“After seeing the new (TargetSolutions) platform, I was immediately impressed by the layout and the look that it presented. Actually, I believe my first word after seeing it was, ‘wow!’ The new platform offered by (TargetSolutions) is sleek, professional, and appears very user-friendly. I feel the new platform will make my job easier with its convenient layout and the ease of navigation it offers.”
Jackie Hulsey, database coordinator for Seminole County Fire/EMS Training Center
“I really like the new platform! The entire look and feel of the site is clean and organized. On the home page, listing everything that is coming due, including credentials, right up front is very helpful. I believe it has assisted lapsed memories of certain individuals on several occasions. Also, although the new notifications box is unobtrusive, the fact that it is more visible when highlighted and includes notifications for several additional items makes it an added benefit to our users.”
Kathy Edwards, training section lieutenant with Lake County Fire Rescue
“I was thrilled to start the new application when we did. It has been an upgrade in some areas. The largest area benefiting was the File Center. The ability to move my own files within the File Center has allowed for a cleaner, more organized site. As administrator to TargetSolutions, I have been able to rid our site of unnecessary items, delete unwanted items and/or non-training related items and organize our site to be more user-friendly. The new site makes it easier for users to see what is required of them, locate classes, and track their credentials.”
Stuart Sprung, training specialist for Oceanside Fire Department
“When TargetSolutions first came out and we started using it, it did not have the ability to do everything it does now. It was probably at 25 percent of how it is functioning now. It was really kind of a CE provider. The management aspect of it was in its infancy. But over time, it has become something we use extensively. Before TargetSolutions, training and recordkeeping was very cumbersome. We knew that for the firefighters to use TargetSolutions, it had to be easy or they would not use it. With TargetSolutions guys can now enter a full day’s worth of training reports in less than five minutes and that data is captured. Our guys have logged thousands more training hours than ever before ever since we implemented TargetSolutions.”
TargetSolutions welcomes client feedback to continue developing our platform.

The Time Has Come, TargetSolutions Is Switching All Clients to Upgraded Platform in December

If you’ve been waiting to make the switch to TargetSolutions’ new platform, the time has come. Over the next few weeks, TargetSolutions will be transferring all of its remaining clients who haven’t switched to the upgraded system yet. All sites will be updated by Friday, Dec. 14.

For those who have waited – get ready for a whole new experience. TargetSolutions is confident you’re going to love the new features.

“The reaction has been tremendous,” said Jenny Fergason, who serves as TargetSolutions’ Director of Client Services. “The clients are finding it to be more intuitive and easier to navigate. Our tech team really did a great job enhancing the platform.”

Clients already on the system have gushed over the systems look and functionality. It is more engaging and user friendly, with many new features, like the web-based Help System, the ability to notify a user the minute a new assignment has been assigned, a real-time progress dashboard and more robust reporting capabilities. They are also enjoying the recent upgrades to the File Center and the new Shift Calendar, while users have benefited from the new Notification System.

“The ability to pin credentials to the top of the schedule on the home page is really simplifying the process for users,” Fergason said. “Now, when they login to the website, they immediately know where to go and what they have to do. It’s just more engaging and effective.”

The new system was first made available in late 2011 and TargetSolutions has systematically moved clients over. But the time has come for a mandatory switch, Fergason said.

We are confident in the upgrades to the system and know you’ll enjoy the benefits of our new system, Fergason said.

TargetSolutions’ Client Services team is always ready to answer questions at (800) 840-8048.

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.

Remember to Focus on What Matters: Your Job

Blog by Nicolas Thomas
Division Chief for Benicia Fire Department, Calif.

The fire service is undergoing significant changes. Local governments are using rolling brown outs to save money. Fire stations and fire companies are being defunded and permanently closed. Communities are revisiting auto-aid /mutual-aid agreements with their neighboring communities. Company staffing strength is being reduced. Training budgets and fire prevention budgets are being slashed. A day doesn’t go by without an article in the local paper calling for fire department right sizing.

Unfortunately, most of this is beyond our control. But what is in our control is whether or not us firefighters focus on what matters: our profession.

If your fire station is anything like mine, you have access to a library containing in-house developed policies, procedures, and training plans. Your library probably includes commercially available publications such as the NFPA Fire Protection Handbook, IFSTA manuals, and other books focused on topics like ladder truck operations, engine operations, fire investigations, rescue operations, etc. If you stacked all the materials in your library you’d probably have a stack 4 feet high.

If your fire station is anything like mine, you have access to the Internet. Personally, I’m yet to fail in locating something I’m searching on the Internet. I especially like perusing the NFA, FEMA, CDC and TargetSolutions web pages. Give them a look.

If your fire station is anything like mine, you have access to senior personnel. Colleagues who have seen and done it all in this business. It says here story telling is still effective for passing along knowledge. And trust me; senior colleagues will share stories if you ask.

There are dozens of ways you and your crew can use your library, Internet and senior personnel to improve your knowledge, skills and abilities. I’ll leave it to you on how to utilize available resources. All I ask is that you stop wasting time on things like shift wars, food in the pantry, or washing and fueling the rig.

We need to bring our A game every single day. Let’s focus! Let’s bring it!

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on TargetSolutions Command Post website in February, 2011.

About the Author
Nicolas Thomas is a Division Chief for the City of Benicia Fire Department. He has more than 30 years of fire service experience, including 20 years as an officer. He has a BS in Fire Administration and has completed extensive leadership training through the National Fire Academy and through the California State Fire Marshal Office.

Clients Find Exactly What They Need with Fire Department File Sharing in TargetSolutions’ Community Resources

Tim Riley still remembers the first time he was able to put TargetSolutions to work for his organization. It was late in the summer of 2009 and H1N1 was in the news on a daily basis. The powerful influenza virus was reaching pandemic proportions when Riley, formerly the training chief with the Pinellas Park Fire Department in Florida, was tasked with testing out his organizations new online training system.

“It didn’t take him long to realize the departments new training management platform was going to make his job easier.”

“We were just coming on board and I was told to go back and play with it,” Riley said. “The first thing I took a look at was Community Resources. I just did a quick search on H1N1 and low and behold, there was the exact type of PowerPoint I was looking for from a department in California. I immediately saved it to my desktop, changed the references of California to Florida, changed the references of earthquakes to hurricanes, and assigned it to my people. I knew right then and there Community Resources was going to be a tremendous tool.”

Riley was instantly enamored with Community Resources because it keeps training officers from having to recreate the wheel every time, he said.

“There are so many things that have been shared in Community Resources, its truly an invaluable tool,” said Riley, who now works as a Product Specialist with TargetSolutions and is responsible for helping TargetSolutions build its ISO Tracking solution. “We’re all trying to do more with less. This is one way we can help each other do that – by sharing resources that can be customized for different departments.”

The two highest-rated resources, which were posted in August of 2009, are still the most popular with TargetSolutions’ network of users. Together the two resources have been viewed more than 11,000 times and have been utilized by more than 100 organizations.

Jeff Clyons, who worked as SDFDs assistant training officer when the videos were created, said his department’s firefighters were having issues with ventilation, so it attacked the issue with a multi-pronged training approach. The department spent three months focusing on ventilation by incorporating the PowerPoint and video with in-station drills and an in-service training session where crews had the chance to work with chainsaws during a manipulative drill.

“We realized our recruits had learned one way to cut a hole in a roof and we realized when they got out in operations, that one way was restricting their ability to do other things,” said Clyons. “It was limiting what our personnel were doing when it came to ventilating a roof. So we wanted to teach our existing personnel multiple ways to do this. We wanted to raise the bar on our ability to use a saw and raise the bar on cutting holes. Our message was well received. I think it assisted people who were tactile learners, people who were visual learners, and people who were auditory learners. They all had a chance and it hit all the senses, so we definitely felt retention was better.”

There are literally hundreds of resources thanks to fire department file sharing in the repository and with such a powerful search engine, clients can usually locate the topics they are seeking. In fact, Community Resources has been nicknamed, Google on steroids for firefighters.

“The search engine is helpful if you go into it looking for a certain topic, like forcible entry, or something – you will find material in there,” said Wes Djuplin, who is a firefighter/instructor with the Kenosha Fire Department in Wisconsin.

With such a tremendous tool for finding material to help with teaching and keeping firefighters prepared for duty, clients are benefiting from TargetSolutions.

“Community Resources is a way for instructors to network and share information,” said Eddie Buchanan, who is the Past President of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. “If there is a program they have done that they are proud of, they can put it out there for everyone to use. They can also look at what others have done for some help. It’s really a great way to share in a community setting. I think firefighters are just very resourceful and when something benefits them they’ll try to find a way to put it to good use.”

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.

Users Benefit from Streamlined Reporting with TargetSolutions

As healthcare providers approach the deadline for their recertification period, they can feel stressed as they wait for course completions reports. One service TargetSolutions provides is reporting completions so users can rest at ease knowing their hard work has been accounted for. But for users in some states, this cumbersome process can mean waiting two weeks or more to see the credit has been reported. To some firefighters and EMTs who are down to the wire with only a few weeks remaining to obtain those last credit hours, this is an incredible inconvenience.

Always looking for ways to better serve customers, TargetSolutions is able to streamline reporting of EMS course completions in the state of Florida. By implementing an application programming interface (API) solution, all Florida EMS course completions will now be submitted on a weekly basis, instead of the previous monthly basis. The API solution eliminates manual entry, which translates to faster, seamless reporting for our customers. TargetSolutions will continue to investigate other states for opportunities to utilize API reporting.

Accessing Printing Course Certificates is Easy with TargetSolutions

TargetSolutions delivers a reliable and effective way to complete courses. After completion, a Certificate of Completion is made available for your review. You can print the certificate at any time you would like.

TargetSolutions is required by law to keep a record of your training. You can use the My History page inside the TargetSolutions platform to view a list of previously completed curriculum. You can review the material, or access your Course Completion Certificates, by following four simple steps:

1. Login to your TargetSolutions account
2. Click on My History on the left-hand side of the page
3. Click on the Certificate icon for the course, located under Details
4. Click on View or Print to complete the desired action

TargetSolutions is easily accessible 24/7 wherever there is an Internet connection. Whether your organization, state, or college requests your certificate, you can print it anywhere, at any time.

TargetSolutions Takes Steps to Simplify Login Process for Users with Multiple Sites

Do you have more than one TargetSolutions account? We have a tool that will allow you to login from any of the sites with a single username and password, and quickly access whichever account you would like.

To make this happen, each of your accounts needs to have been upgraded, meaning either your e-mail has been validated or you have verified that your username is unique system wide. Once that is completed, e-mail your account manager with the name of every site in which you have an account. Make sure to designate which site will be your primary account. The username and password used to access your primary site will become the only login information you will ever need to remember.

When the merge is finished, you can use your primary username and password to login from any of your sites. Use the menu in the upper left corner of the platform to switch between your accounts (see image below).

NFPA 1035 Provides Guidelines to Increase Skills of Fire Safety Educators

Blog by Sharon Gamache
NFPA’s Program Manager for High-Risk Outreach Programs

Whether you teach older adults, develop lesson plans for classroom visits, or prepare a Fire Prevention Week open house with interactive activities, it is always important to increase your skills and knowledge as a fire-safety educator. NFPA 1035 can help you accomplish that goal.

NFPA 1035 identifies the levels of professional performance required for public fire and life safety educators, public information officers and juvenile fire setter intervention specialists. According to the NFPAs website, it specifically identifies the job performance requirements (JPRs) necessary to perform as a public fire safety educator, a public information officer and a juvenile fire setter intervention specialist.

Please click here for an outline of what NFPA 1035 addresses.

Ernest Grant, committee chair for NFPA 1035, says that NFPA 1035 is the ultimate path toward professionalism in fire safety education. Becoming certified sets you apart from your peers, makes you a good example for others, and shows your commitment to the field. Taking this course or becoming certified can make your job easier.

Grant, who is First Chair of NFPA Board of Directors, believes the 1035 document serves as a guide for individuals or organizations that may be seeking to a have certification process in place.

“In North Carolina, we have adopted the 1035 guidelines as a part of our certification process, Grant said. Participants seeking certification must complete the three standards (Administration, Planning & Development and Education/Implementation) at each level in order to be certified as a level I, II or III Fire and Life Safety Educator.

To find out where you can get certified, contact your state, territory, or provincial fire service training office or the state, territory, or provincial fire marshal. You can also go to the North American Fire Training Directors website to find local trainers.

NFPA 1035, which is available online, is up for revision next year. If you would like to comment on the standard, fill out the online form or send an e-mail message to Ernest Grant (egrant@unch.unc.edu).

About the Author
Sharon Gamache is the program director for High-Risk Outreach Programs, Public Education Division of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Quincy, Mass. She develops and implements fire and life safety programs targeted to those at highest risk to fire deaths and injuries.

Activities Builder Helps Organizations Deliver Custom Content, Track Training Hours

TargetSolutions is committed to providing our clients with tools to make training a comprehensive and seamless process. We firmly believe that effective communication is the key to achieving this goal. One tool that enables stronger communication is the Activities Builder.

Activities Builder is one of our most popular applications because it allows organizations to deliver custom content and track training hours. Working in conjunction with the File Center and the Community Resources page, administrators can incorporate custom content such as instructional or inspirational videos, organization-specific content, policies and SOGs into training assignments.

Administrators can then ensure user accountability through e-signatures and activity validation options. A visit to the Generate Reports application will allow administrators to track the training through reports, providing them with a paperless-paper trail.

If you are still learning the ropes of how to better incorporate activities into your training program and have any questions for TargetSolutions, please check the Help section inside the platform and search “Activities Builder.” And don’t hesitate to contact your account manager. We are here to help you make the most out of your TargetSolutions platform. We can be reached at 800.840.8048.