Technology with a Purpose

Archive for January, 2013

Enhancements to TargetSolutions’ EDU Courses

A well-trained school district is healthier, safer and more productive. That is why TargetSolutions is focused on helping educators gain the knowledge they need to maximize safety and reduce liability in their institutions. At the end of the day, educators need training, too.

With that in mind, we are excited about the enhancements to TargetSolutions’ EDU Course Catalog is currently undergoing. Our most popular courses for school districts, including Sexual Harassment, Bloodborne Pathogens, and Ethics in the Workplace, are all undergoing a transformation. These courses, and many others, will be relaunched during 2013 featuring more interactive sequences, recent case study lessons and scenarios and engaging videos. We like to call it, training that makes a difference.

“Our EDU clients are unique and we are committed to creating content and applications just for them,” said Business Unit Manager Kelly Zielinski. “The relaunch of these titles is just the beginning. We have new courses in the works and look forward to releasing them in the coming months.”

TargetSolutions’ Cost-Effective System Helps Public Entities Decrease Liability Save Money

In today’s world, public entities have no choice but to watch their budgets. When investing in a web-based training management platform, they need to be confident they are making a prudent business decision. TargetSolutions gives fire departments and other organizations the opportunity to cost effectively and efficiently meet mandatory training requirements, eliminate unnecessary expenses and manage risks.

Here are some of the benefits of TargetSolutions:

Reduce Costs: Decrease pricy instructor-led training sessions and expenses, including overtime and fuel charges. Eliminate the need for rescheduling expensive training events when employees miss mandatory live events.

Improve ISO Rating: Preparing for an audit by ISO can be grueling. TargetSolutions simplifies it with ready-made training activities built for ISO and the ultimate tracking system. When ISO comes to analyze your records, you’ll be ready.

Reduce Claims: TargetSolutions’ training courses have proven to change unsafe behaviors that lead to injuries and other claims. Our catalog features critical sexual harassment training that will eliminate damaging and costly lawsuits.

Decrease Liability: It can be extremely difficult monitoring licenses and credentials for an entire department. With TargetSolutions you will always know your employees status. Alert notifications keep things like critical licenses from expiring.

Training Efficiency: As we all know, time is money. With TargetSolutions, training is simplified for everyone. Scheduling, assigning and monitoring training is easier than ever for administrators. And 24/7 access to platform helps users maximize their time.

Tools & Resources: Continuing education for EMS can be expensive. TargetSolutions features more than 160 hours of accredited courses in its library. Plus, Community Resources offers content from other organizations for all types of training.

If you’d like to learn more about how TargetSolutions can help your department reduce costs, please check out our Cost Savings Calculator. This tool will help you estimate how much savings your department can achieve with TargetSolutions’ powerful training management system.

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 Announces Several Changes to Its Client Services Team’s Coverage

TargetSolutions is excited to announce a few changes to its Client Services team. Account Managers Kegan Konrady and Ann Gruetzmacher, as well as Account Specialist Kate Fishman, are now covering new territories.

Konrady will be serving as the primary account manager for the state of California. He will also support Nevada and Hawaii.

Gruetzmacher, who already covered the Great Lakes, Northeast, and the South, will now additionally provide service to the Mid-Atlantic (Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia).

Fishman, who was recently promoted to account specialist, will be picking up Gruetzmacher’s previous territory in the Midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota).

The Client Services team is very excited about the changes and we feel confident that each team member is a great fit for their new region, said Client Services Manager Jennifer Antinone. We are dedicated to service and keeping our clients happy and we are looking forward to 2013 being a successful year for our company, as well as our clients.

If you have any questions about the changes, or operating the TargetSolutions platform, please do not hesitate to contact us today. Our team is available to answer questions during normal business hours at 800.840.8048. After-hours emergency support is also available.

Why SOPs Are Harmful to the Formation of Situational Awareness

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO
Retired Fire Chief and Web Master for Situational Awareness Matters

During my “Fifty Ways to Kill a First Responder” program, I discuss how standard operating procedures (SOPs) and standard operating guidelines (SOGs) can be helpful in the formation of situational awareness and in making critical incident decisions. Much to the chagrin of the policy makers in the audience, I also discuss how SOPs and SOGs can be harmful to the formation of situational awareness and cripple good decision making.

The former seems easier to comprehend. When employees have SOPs or SOGs to follow their performance is consistent and predictable. When a crew arrives at an emergency and performs according to a standard, then everyone arriving after them knows what to expect. There are few surprises when all the crews using the same playbook. To this end, SOPs and SOGs are a great tool to build consistency and predictability into operations. In fact, developing and using SOPs and SOGs are one of my top 10 situational awareness best practices.

So how can SOPs and SOGs be harmful? In training, responders should use the standards. It’s a simple premise. Train to the standard. Perform to the standard. However, there are times when the standard way of doing things won’t work. The circumstances of the incident are not covered by the standard. When this happens, what is a member to do?

Essentially, they have two choices. First, follow the standard, regardless of the circumstances. Or, improvise a unique solution to the novel problem. Which will they do? The answer, surprisingly, will be based on how rigid the organization views their standards and how much resiliency the organization has built into their decision making processes.

Let’s run through a couple of made-up fire scenarios to see how this plays out.

Scenario 1: The fire is in the back of the structure. The standard says attack from the unburned side, meaning the crew is going to advance the hose line through the front door. It’s a drill they’ve practiced over and over again at the burn building. Fire in the back. Attack from the front. But the front door is barricaded and fortified. Attempts to force entry are not working. Because the policy says attack from the unburned side, additional efforts are given to making entry. The process takes five minutes. All the while, the fire is growing in the back of the structure. Crews are not willing to veer from the standard because they fear the consequences.

Scenario 2: The fire is in the back of the structure. The standard says attack from the unburned side. During training, the crews practiced in accordance to the standard until they were good at the skill. However, the instructor then created scenarios that did not fit the written standard. The scenario of the barricaded and fortified door was built into the drill. During the exercise the students were encouraged to improvise a solution. Then they were encouraged to improvise a second solution, then a third. This creative problem solving, performing on purpose in ways that does not conform to standards, builds resiliency into decision making. And this is a critical skill to develop in responders. Standards can’t cover everything and responders need to be taught how to resolve issues where the standards don’t work. They also need to practice the deviations. And they need to be encouraged and rewarded for their creative problem solving efforts.

Unless you can develop and implement standards that cover every possible scenario responders will face, you may want to work in building resiliency into your members’ decision making. It will improve their situational awareness and their safety.

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. His website, Situational Awareness Matters (www.SAMatters.com) has enjoyed over a million visits since its launch in October 2011. He can be reached via e-mail at Support@RichGasaway.com.

Wheat Ridge Fire Department Looks to TargetSolutions for Tracking Critical Training Hours Certifications

In 1926, the Wheat Ridge Fire Department began serving the citizens of Colorado under the basic principle of service before self. The department has recently reinforced its commitment to the community by adopting a new mission statement: Doing the Right Things at the Right Times for the Right Reasons.

In order to carry out its goals, the entire department must be well-organized, well-trained and well-prepared to respond to a crisis in a moment’s notice. Battalion Chief Bob Olme manages the training division and ensures the department is reaching its maximum potential in those areas.

Olme began his career in the fire service in 1984 and is extremely experienced in many disciplines of the profession. He realizes the importance of comprehensive training and that’s why it made so much sense to begin using TargetSolutions, he said.

“TargetSolutions is a very strong platform for tracking certifications, hours and all of the things you need from a certification standpoint. It’s also a great way for us to keep track of records for ISO compliance,” said Olme, whose department implemented TargetSolutions in 2009.

In addition to superior tools for tracking training, Olme’s department benefits from uploading documents onto the platform for firefighters to view 24/7.

“SOPs come out and we put them on TargetSolutions. Everybody can reference them,” Olme said. “They’re permanent documents so people don’t have to chase paper anymore.”

In addition to the records management functions, Olme also assigns online courses to the firefighters.

“It supplements our hands-on training by providing a consistent knowledge base that we can roll out both to our career and volunteer firefighters simultaneously,” said Olme. It’s fairly self-taught, so if you’re on a busy schedule you’re able to do it at your will. It has been very successful for us both on the fire side as well as EMS training.

Olme has had experience with several different platforms and he says that TargetSolutions is the easiest to use.

“It’s a super strong platform that’s easy to use,” said Olme. “I don’t have a lot of administrative help, and I am still able to do it and stay up with it. If I can do it, anybody can.”

Even though it’s a user friendly platform, Olme reports that anytime he needs help, it is given to him by the excellent Client Services team at TargetSolutions.

“Whenever I need help, I get help,” he said. “I would certainly recommend TargetSolutions to anybody who asked me about it.”

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.

Tip of the Month: How to Import Files from Community Resources Application

The Community Resources application gives administrators the ability to access and share training videos, organizational policies, inspection forms, and more with other TargetSolutions clients. Administrators are able to import and distribute these resources to users through the Activities Builder.

There are two ways to locate videos in Community Recourses: Top Files and Top Videos and by searching. The Top Files and Top Videos are determined by a combination of popular views and resource ratings. The search engine provides the ability to browse the database of shared content, which is based off of keywords, as well as administrator-defined tags.

Once an administrator or supervisor locates a video in the Community Resources that they would like to share with their department, they can easily import the file with just a few simple steps. First, click the Import Resource button under the Resource Details section. The file/video will then transfer to the File Center into a folder labeled Imported Resources. The administrator can then attach the video or file to a custom activity to be assigned out to their users. It is as easy as that!

Without a doubt, Community Resources is one of TargetSolutions most useful applications. If you’d like more information on this tool, please contact your account manager.

Alternative Fire Training Methods Think Outside the Box

Blog by Brian Ward
Officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia

Looking outside the box is critical when a firefighter is implementing training. For instance, learning from other individuals in different geographical locations can greatly influence how we mitigate certain situations. We may never be able to use 100 percent of the expertise we’ve learned from an individual operating 1,000 miles away, but we can take parts and use them in our own department.

Working in a fire department is similar to a scavenger hunt. There are pieces of the puzzle lying all around us. It’s our job as training officers and instructors to find the pieces that will make our departments stronger, the things that will keep us safe and reduce injuries and deaths.

In 2008, Chief John Salka came to our department at my request to speak on rapid intervention and to deliver a hands-on training day. This small idea of mine to have Salka come down turned into the first Gwinnett County Leadership and Safety Conference. Chief John Norman, Chief Rick Lasky, Chief Kelvin Cochran and others have since come and brought their own area of expertise to the conference, which not only benefited my department, but many others throughout the Atlanta-metro Area.

Something of this magnitude had never been attempted before in our region and it took a tremendous amount of help and determination to put together. The financial need for this endeavor was not allocated by the department during budget time, and finding sponsors was a tough task. One of the greatest benefits of bringing speakers into a central area is that it allows multiple departments to become involved and share the cost.

If your department is interested in putting together an event like this, here are some of the lessons I learned in the process:

>> Create a plan that includes who, when and where. It’s very important to answer all of the obvious questions prior to soliciting sponsors or buy-in from outside departments.

>> Look at all possibilities and combinations, especially when considering time of year, speaker times and event sites. You may choose to run two separate locations: one for classroom and one for hands-on-training.

>> The first mistake I encountered was time frame. I was under the impression this conference would be up and rolling within four months. About nine months later we had our first conference.

>> When looking for sponsorship, think way ahead. Potential sponsors have an annual budget similar to the government. Sponsors cannot allocate money at the drop of a hat. Get on their radar prior to their conference scheduling and budget meetings.

>> Advertising is key, especially if you are looking for participants to help share the cost. Look for mutual benefits with publishing companies, such as cross advertising for each other. They have a very large distribution system, use it. Also, advertise with all local fire department associations.

>> Get help. Lots of it. The smartest thing I did was entice one of our administrative assistances to help keep the financial documents and registration. This allowed me to look at everything else and get the big picture of what was going on. You can expect problems and questions to come your way. You need to be ready to handle them.

>> Don’t be afraid to follow through. Big risk equals big reward. The greatest accomplishment of that conference was receiving e-mails six months later saying how a firefighter changed their way of thinking or operating because of something that was said by a speaker.

As always, train hard, take care and be safe.

About the Author
Brian Ward is the training director for Georgia Pacific in Madison, Ga. He previously was an engineer/officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia.

TargetSolutions Offers Newly Approved Fire Content in Florida

We are excited to announce the expansion of our library of approved fire content in Florida by the Florida State Fire College. Our newly released First Responder Hybrid Vehicles Incidents course is approved, as well as the NFPA 1001 and NFPA 1021 course bundles being accepted for continuing education credits for Firesafety Inspectors and Instructors.

But TargetSolutions is not only able to deliver fire content in Florida, there are infinitely more benefits of the approvals.

This is going to be huge for many of our clients. Firefighters need 40 hours of fire recertification every other year. Now, we can go to departments and show them how we can help them meet all their required hours, including EMS, said TargetSolutions Regional Sales Manager Jeff Oathout.

Additionally, inspectors and instructors can receive credit for our 8-hour HAZWOPER refreshers, and the Emergency Response to Terrorism course fulfills four hours toward the Terrorism Pre-certification requirement for Fire Officers. These newly-approved titles facilitate TargetSolutions being able to offer a much wider variety of options for Florida Firesafety Inspectors and Instructors.

Every Minute of Training Counts with TargetSolutions’ Record Keeping

TargetSolutions’ powerful records management system helps fire department record keeping for all types of training, including drill-yard and instructor-led training activities.

The TargetSolutions records management system is packed with innovative applications built to help track firefighter training hours. But perhaps its most beneficial tool is the Activities Builder.

This powerful application has revolutionized the way clients document training. By creating custom activities, departments can distribute and track firefighter training hours in categories that were once overlooked.

“The benefit of custom activities is the ability of a fire department to design its own training programs specific to its own departments SOGs and SOPs,” said TargetSolutions’ Product Specialist Tim Riley, who prior to working with the company was a chief with Dunedin Fire Department in Florida. “It truly gives the department a sense of ownership and validity when they can attach their own policies or principles directly to an activity.”

A huge component of TargetSolutions’ Activities Builder is its ability to track training specifically for fire department ISO compliance. TargetSolutions developed custom activities built just for ISO tracking. This feature consists of 60 custom activities that are preloaded into a department’s site (upon request). In addition to those custom activities, there is a preset of three Training Tracker credentials covering Driver Operator, Firefighter and Officer.

TargetSolutions offers other preloaded custom activities created to assist departments in improving the efficiency of firefighter record keeping. One specific activity consists of 19 daily checklist activities, similar to that of ISO. These lists are broken down into specifications that ensure every amount of training, no matter how minimal, is being tracked by the administration.

“Utilization of custom activities allows a department to track firefighter training hours they never classified as training,” said TargetSolutions’ Client Services Manager Jennifer Antinone. “In most cases, departments have been doing all their required training needs, but they just weren’t tracking them. Using TargetSolutions, they never have to worry about not getting credit for their training.”

With TargetSolutions, tracking any type of training and recording the duration is a cinch. Administrators can take any training document, transform it into a web-based form, and make the document accessible to users. Inspections for SCBA, PPE, apparatus, or anything else, can be completed and tracked simultaneously which increases operational efficiency.

“It’s easier for the users to understand when an activity, policy, or principle is department-specific,” Riley said. “This helps create a better sense of buy-in for using the system to document training. It’s a win-win for department’s administration, and subordinates alike.”

One example of a custom built activity is Truck Checks, which is utilized by Auburndale Fire Department in Florida. Truck Checks forms are created featuring a hard-copy inspection list. This form allows users to record free-form responses to questions about fuel levels, truck conditions and other specifications of each truck at the station.

“Inspections like this are vital to department administrators because they ensure equipment is in proper working order,” Antinone said.

Every department differs in the demand for inspections, policies and other daily activities. So not all activities can be replicated – but with the use of reportable components and free-form questions, TargetSolutions is capable of turning any hard-copy form of documentation into a custom activity.

With custom activities and credentials in place, it opens a fire department’s eyes to what they are currently doing with respects to training, said Antinone. Also, this capability helps them to understand what other training they should be doing. By generating reports on custom activities, a department can understand which areas they are efficient and which they are lacking the proper, up-to-date training.

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 Selects Winner of Social Media Contest

Congratulations to Evan Scott of Polk County Fire Rescue! Evan won TargetSolutions’ social media contest prize of a $100 Amazon gift card after “liking” our Facebook page. Evan’s name was randomly selected from a list of individuals who participated in the sweepstakes by liking us during the promotion.

If you haven’t liked us yet on Facebook, please do so today by clicking the Like button on our Facebook page. Connecting with TargetSolutions through social media is a great way to learn about future promotions, company news and platform tips and tricks.

You can also follow us on twitter to stay up to date on information about TargetSolutions and its industry-leading online training and records management system.