Technology with a Purpose

Archive for February, 2013

Application for Recording Completions Is Running Faster Than Ever After Latest Platform Upgrades

An ongoing project for TargetSolutions development team is to improve the performance of all areas of our platform. A perfect example is the Record Completions application. We have been working hard on optimizing this tool to make it run faster and smoother than ever before.

Platform managers and users will not notice any front-facing changes that will disrupt their experience however, they should be seeing an improved system with significantly faster load times. TargetSolutions is confident you will be pleased with these upgrades.

“Improving this application is part of our effort to optimize all applications in the platform,” said Product Manager Misty Pratt. “We want to make sure the platform is using the latest technology and all the processing is happening as fast as possible.”

These changes were put through testing stages earlier this year and are now live. Thank you all for continuing to make Record Completions such a popular application! And if you have any questions about the platform, please contact us today.

Riveting Documentary ‘Burn’ Serves as Reminder About the Heroes We Serve Every Day

Blog by Rich Miron
Marketing Manager with TargetSolutions

 

BURN – Official Theatrical Trailer (2013) from BURN on Vimeo.

 

I wish my head could forget what my eyes have seen in 32 years of firefighting.
Dave Parnell, Detroit Fire Department

These chilling words open the gripping new documentary Burn, which puts audiences up close and personal with the unbelievable challenges the Detroit Fire Department faces on a daily basis.

Before this review goes any further, it should be noted Detroit Fire Department is a client of TargetSolutions and has been since 2006. It’s not pandering to say, it’s impossible to watch this film and not be completely inspired by the courage of these incredibly brave souls who serve this city during its darkest hours.

Here at TargetSolutions, we have a slogan used to motivate employees: We Serve Heroes Every Day. Those five words posted throughout our office walls will never be truer than after watching Burn, subtitled One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit.

Soon after Parnell’s grizzled voice opens the film, which played last week at Horton Plaza in San Diego during Firehouse World, filmmakers Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez put the city’s dire situation into context. Consider these facts reported in the movie:

>> Detroit’s total population has been slashed by more than 60 percent since the 1950s

>> Poverty has reached 33 percent

>> Unemployment is 29 percent

>> Approximately 80,000 homes are considered vacant

In 1954, Detroit staffed more than 1,800 firefighters. In 2010, that number had been slashed in half while facing 300 percent more fire calls. In fact, the department is tasked with 30 structure fires per day, and as one firefighter in the film estimates, about 95 percent are caused by arson.

To put those alarming numbers into perspective, Los Angeles, a city of 4 million, sees 11 structure fires per day. Never mind the fact its population is more than five times larger than Detroit’s.

It’s all preposterous, but true, making it a story audiences need to see, not really for the entertainment value, however, it’s incredibly well shot, featuring intense action scenes orchestrated with gritty rock blaring as a backdrop and skillful storytelling about several of the departments most relatable characters, but to gain a true appreciation for what this department is up against.

The film is focused on Engine Company 50, which is located on Detroit’s blighted east side where emergency responders risk their lives every single shift. One of the films characters, Brendan Doogie Milewski, demonstrates this unfortunate reality. Milewski, 30, was trampled as a building crashed down and is now paralyzed, confined to a wheel chair. He was one of the lucky ones, however, as several firefighters died in the collapse.

Burn documents Milewski’s story, showing some of his most personal moments, including when he meets with a doctor who offers his long-term prognosis. It’s just a miracle more guys aren’t killed or hurt on the job, he says at one point — a statement that couldn’t be more precise.

Milewski is not the only sympathetic character. Parnell is followed during his final days on the job after 33 years of loyal service. Some might wonder why Parnell and the others are willing to risk their lives in these conditions. But for Parnell, Detroit is home and always will be. He’ll fight until the end for it.

The film doesn’t really have an antagonist, but new fire commissioner Donald Austin is tasked with the unpopular mission of making the departments shrinking budget manageable. In an increasingly difficult environment, with malfunctioning equipment, a need for more manpower and compressed resources, it’s a tall order. Austin could have stopped production of this truth-telling documentary with a social conscience at any point. He didn’t and should be commended.

Burn is unique in that it mixes the kind of powerful imagery that would make a summer blockbuster proud with the larger, political issues the city of Detroit faces. The film was shot mostly during 2011 and was funded entirely by tax-deductible donations by corporations and individual supporters, most notably General Motors. These contributions allowed the film crew to tell this important, independently-made story that is only playing on select dates, in select theatres.

To them, thank you. Here at TargetSolutions, we serve heroes every day. Realizing just who some of these heroes are, and what they’re really facing, can only help us take our jobs a little more seriously.

About the Author
Rich Miron started working with TargetSolutions in April of 2010. He serves as the company’s marketing manager. Before joining the team, Rich worked as a journalist and editor for several publications, including The Camp Pendleton Scout and the North County Times. Rich has a degree in journalism from San Diego State University.

Tip of the Month: Import Example Activities Tool Easy for TargetSolutions’ Users

The Import Example Activities tool found within the Activities Builder application gives platform managers the ability to import ready-made activities. Not only does it save time, it also provides great templates for building future activities. Platform managers will learn how to use different components, including duration, question, and resource, to name a few.

TargetSolutions offers several different industries from which to import activities. For the Fire industry, sample activities incorporate ARFF training, various inspections, National Incident Management System ICS training, and more. General industry topics include policy reviews and risk assessment activities. In fact, TargetSolutions has even created activities for our training videos from the help section.

One question we were recently asked through Live Chat is if it is possible to import our help videos into an organization’s File Center and then build an activity with it? This organization was about to train a supervisor to start managing the platform and wanted the supervisor to watch TargetSolutions’ Record Completions Video.

At the time, the client was unaware of the Import Example Activities tool — not to mention we already had a Record Completions Video activity ready to import.

After informing the administrator of the Import Example Activities tool, they were thrilled! “Awesome! I’ve been messing around with our version of the platform for a year getting it ready and I never clicked on the Import Example Activities,” they wrote.

Operating the Import Example Activity tool is simple. Here is how it works: From the Administration tab, click on Activities Builder. Select the Import Example Activities link on the far right. You can scroll through multiple activities that are available to assign to users and easily import into your File Center.

This tool was created so you would not have to build everything from scratch. We hope it makes your life a little easier! Please contact us if you have any questions.

Discovering the New Norm for EMS Providers

Blog by Tim Holman, BA, EMTP, CFO, EMSI
Chief of German Township, Fire & EMS (Clark County, Ohio)

EMS services across the country are discovering the New Norm for EMS providers. Business as usual is out the door and the challenges facing managers and providers have never been tougher. Here are a few issues to consider.

As budgets shrink, staffing issues will increase. Shifts will be running with fewer people. Complicating operations, even more back-to-back calls will place greater demand on the service. Mutual aid is an option but many services will be unable to assist due to their own call volumes and short staffing issues.

Call volumes in general will continue to rise. Some citizens will use EMS as their only source for entering the healthcare system. New healthcare laws will make this worse, not better.

Ambulance manufactures will see a trend of downsizing units. The large medium duty ambulances will be bypassed for smaller, less costly units that are more economical to purchase and operate.

Threats to EMS providers will continue to escalate. Emergency scenes will become more violent as citizens become more and more frustrated in the economy and social issues. Assaults and attacks on responders will increase at an alarming rate.

EMS systems will search for new and better ways of doing business. This will require significant change and many providers will dig their heals in to resist the change.

This may appear to be a bleak picture for EMS. But organizations can position themselves to thrive. EMS is made up of problem solvers. There will be no room for those who are negative and constantly complain. You will either be part of the solution or part of the problem. If you are part of the problem you will probably be asked to leave the organization.

There should be no room for those who just get by. Organizations should staff themselves with the very best. EMTs will be forced to decide if they truly want to contribute. When hiring, managers will need to select the best of the best. They can’t afford to settle for a warm body with an EMT certificate. They will need to select those that will help prepare the organization for the demands of the future.

It’s imperative that leaders train their staff, not only in EMS tactics but, in leadership, communication, change management and customer service. They will need these skills to help improve the organization. In addition EMTs will need advanced training in situational awareness, de-escalating skills, personal defense and yes, even firearms training.

New approaches for dealing with non-emergency calls will need to become more innovative. Providers must take a stake in finding solutions to these problems and help promote the change process. No longer can it just be placed in managements lap. Everyone in the organization must work-together, stay positive and work for the common good of the organization. The new norm is here. How will you respond?

About the Author
Tim Holman speaks and trains on a variety of business, fire and EMS management and leadership issues. Holman specializes in providing fire and EMS officer development programs. He was the Fire Chief magazine Fire Chief of the Year for 2002. He has also been appointed to the commission on Chief Fire Officer Designation. For more information on Holman, please check online at www.holmantraining.com.

Packed House on Hand to Learn About TargetSolutions Platform at Firehouse World

TargetSolutions Honors Two Clients at Annual User Group Workshop

TargetSolutions hosts numerous events with clients each year, but the largest one is the annual user group workshop during the Firehouse World conference in San Diego. On Wednesday (Feb. 20), more than 60 clients attended the special gathering to learn more about the industry’s leading online training and records management platform.

Two of those individuals walked away with new trophies – not to mention a bunch of pats on the back from colleagues and some huge smiles.

Rick Vogt of San Marcos Fire Department and Gary Lane of North County Protection District each took home awards for their contributions to TargetSolutions over the years. Vogt was given the inaugural Helping Hand Award for his department’s stellar contributions during the creation of TargetSolutions’ new California Incident Command Certification System application. Lane captured the very first Technical Achievement Award for his extensive help in the promotion and development of the TargetSolutions platform.

“We’re extremely grateful to both Rick and Gary for all they have done to help our company,” said TargetSolutions’ Regional Sales Manager Andy Lynch, who along with Western Region Account Manager Kegan Konrady, helped run the event.

“That’s why I’m thrilled that we were able to honor them with these awards. These two guys have both been tremendously helpful to our mission of providing the very best online training and records management system imaginable. Our platform wouldn’t be what it is today if not for the contributions of people like Rick and Gary.”

Vogt, a battalion chief with San Marcos (Calif.), was gracious in his acceptance of the honor, but quick to point out his colleague with his department, Scott Hanson, was the one who did most of the hard work helping TargetSolutions’ technology team develop the cutting-edge tool for tracking and reporting CICCS requirements.

“The credit should go to (Battalion Chief) Scott Hanson, who was really the one who interfaced the most with TargetSolutions to build the system,” Vogt said. “CICCS was a huge project with a big impact on departments in California. The system makes documentation of search and qualification manageable, and helps with resetting currency requirements. Tracking all of this can be a nightmare and this system helps make a huge difference.”

Lane’s department, which is responsible for Fallbrook, Bonsall and Rainbow in San Diegos North County, is one of TargetSolutions’ oldest clients. The department joined TargetSolutions in 2004 and Lane has been a huge proponent of the platform ever since, he said.

“I’m not a techy-guy, but the ability to upload training, assign it out, and then and monitor who completed those assignments with this system is invaluable to me,” said Lane, who was praised by Lynch for his contributions and recommendations with the platforms progression.

In addition to the awards, clients listened and interacted during the three-hour event that covered various platform-related topics, including ISO solutions, daily drill logs, regional enterprise sites, tips and tricks, and much more. One interesting tidbit was the recommendation to use TargetSolutions’ powerful Credentials application in new ways.

“I thought the user group went well,” said Christine Boozer, who is a civilian training officer with the Fresno Fire Department. “It was great because we got a couple tips out of it. I had not thought of using certificates for anything beyond what is necessary for EMT. So, using certificates for our USAR teams, for their dive requirements; or using them for our specialty teams for the instructors would be great. I always get something out of these user groups that I did not know before.”

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 Hands Out Inaugural Awards During User Group Workshop

TargetSolutions gave out inaugural awards during user group workshop on Wednesday (Feb. 20) during Firehouse World in San Diego and Rick Vogt of San Marcos Fire Department and Gary Lane of North County Protection District each took home awards for their contributions over the years.

Vogt was given the inaugural Helping Hand Award for his department’s assistance during the creation of TargetSolutions’ new California Incident Command Certification System application. Lane captured the very first Technical Achievement Award for his extensive help in the promotion and development of the TargetSolutions platform.

“We are extremely grateful to both Rick and Gary for all they have done to help our company,” said TargetSolutions Regional Sales Manager Andy Lynch, who along with Western Region Account Manager Kegan Konrady, helped run the event.

“That is why I’m thrilled that we were able to honor them with these awards. These two guys have both been tremendously helpful to our mission of providing the very best online training and records management system imaginable. Our platform would not be what it is today if not for the contributions of people like Rick and Gary.”

TargetSolutions Is at Booth No 2141 During Firehouse World in San Diego

Find TargetSolutions at Firehouse World this week in San Diego! Please make sure to stop by our booth – No. 2141. This conference is all about training and ther’es no better time to learn about the industry’s most powerful online system for tracking and managing training!

With TargetSolutions, your department can achieve total compliance with more than 250 hours of Fire and EMS recertification courses, while utilizing powerful tools built for tracking ISO training hours, licenses, daily drills, certifications, etc.

TargetSolutions is the most effective way to meeting training requirements. Come by our booth during exhibition hours – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday  to learn more. You might even score a free T-shirt for stopping by!

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 Is Proud to Serve Heroes Every Day

From the top of TargetSolutions, all the way down, employees here feel a tremendous sense of privilege for the opportunity we have to serve heroes everyday. We take pride in our clients and we are dedicated to making their lives a little easier.

One way we like to acknowledge and recognize every client we have is with our client wall. This wall, which is located in the main hallway of our San Diego-based office, consists of a large map covered in pins. Each pin represents a client we have. The pins vary in size and are color-based on the client type and size of the department. The red pins represent our Fire Departments, the blue pins are for the Police Departments, School Districts are represented with yellow, and green is for the Risk Pools and Water Agencies.

Every Friday we hold an informal ceremony at the map. All of our employees gather around as we add the pins of new clients we brought on over the previous week. Another portion of our client wall, aside from the map, is the client patches and photos. Over the years, we have asked clients to donate old patches or photos they have of their department. We then display these on the wall for everyone to see.

So, if you’re a client and have any extra patches lying around or awesome photographs that you would like to donate for our wall please send our way! It would be greatly appreciated!

Managing Users’ Profiles Is Now Easier, More Flexible

TargetSolutions has improved the Modify Users tool; which makes managing users’ profiles easier. This includes a brand new look for user profiles, as well as the ability for administrators and supervisors to change the usernames and e-mails of their users.

As a related change, administrators now have the ability to require e-mail addresses without requiring the address to be used as a username.

“The ability to make e-mail required for each user and still retain a unique username for login purposes was a highly requested feature. Some of these city-given e-mails have five acronyms and four periods in each one. They are long and a hassle to type in every time,” said Product Manager Misty Pratt. “Now the users are free to choose a unique username that is easier for them to remember and quicker for them to enter.”

TargetSolutions is also improving the My Profile section of all user accounts. The section will have the great new look and enhanced usability of the Modify Users application.

Documenting Training Is Easier for Bethpage Since Implementing TargetSolutions

Bethpage Fire Department no longer has trouble deciphering what training has been completed thanks to TargetSolutions’ computer-based training management system.

The Bethpage Fire Department has proudly served the citizens of Bethpage, N.Y., since 1910. More than 100 years of dedicated service demonstrate the department’s commitment to the people, as well as its significance to the community. With 190 members divided amongst three stations, Bethpage is responsible for protecting a population of more than 30,000 people and covering an area of 7.8 square miles. It takes a well-trained, cohesive department to respond effectively to more than 1,800 calls per year.

It all starts with having the right people in the right place – people who are continuously looking for ways to maximize productivity. In order to operate as efficiently as possible, Bethpage implemented TargetSolutions, the industry’s leader in web-based training and records management, in 2008.

Joseph Minogue, the Chairman-Board of Fire Commission, says the online platform has delivered the tools needed to train and document training more efficiently.

“Before we started using TargetSolutions, it was tough to get everyone’s annual training documentation filed without missing something,” said Minogue. “TargetSolutions makes everything easy to document and easy to pull out.

“It’s a great management tool to make sure everyone is staying on top of his/her training. TargetSolutions is also a way to reach across generations. The newer generation of tech-savvy firefighters and the firefighters who are not so tech savvy, are having new dialogue.”

The difficulties Bethpage faced before implementing TargetSolutions are common for departments without powerful records management tools. Knowing for certain who did what and when they did it can be tedious and taxing when trying to chase down a paper trail. Bethpage knew it had to find a viable solution to eliminate this problem.

Like any department, complying with state requirements is a top priority for Bethpage. Commissioner Minogue says TargetSolutions has not only helped with the documentation of state-required training, but also provided tremendous flexibility in the use of training programs for company officers and has enhanced communication throughout the department.

Company officers utilize TargetSolutions’ publicly shared resources, as well as department-created libraries to give members an educational foundation. And sending out memos to personnel – and being assured they received the information – is simple and reliable. The platform’s e-signature check box allows employees to let it be known that they have reviewed the message.

“Overall, the Bethpage Fire Department is pleased with what it has seen from TargetSolutions. It’s a great program and it works. TargetSolutions offers a convenient, cost-effective method for recordkeeping and getting training messages out.”

Joseph Minogue, Chairman-Board of Fire Commission

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.