Technology with a Purpose

Archive for March, 2013

TargetSolutions Helps Public Entities Go Paperless with Tools for Storing SOPs

For most organizations, the distribution, completion and accumulation of Standard Operating Procedures, commonly known as SOP’s, can be extremely difficult. The process usually entails a director passing a document down to a manager, who is then responsible for ensuring the entire organization has read and signed the document. It’s not an easy task. And even worse, it’s often ineffective, wasteful and can put the organization at risk.

Fortunately, there’s a better way.

Utilizing TargetSolutions’ File Center for storing SOP’s (and other types of files), and then Activities Builder for disseminating the information, clients are able to streamline the entire process for everyone while going green.

“The delivery of SOP’s is really one of the most popular functions within the platform,” explains TargetSolutions’ Client Services Manager Jennifer Antinone. “All clients are able to take advantage of being able to have their policies in the File Center and made available to employees in one centralized online location. TargetSolutions provides a paperless paper trail that allows for accountability on all parts. This helps cut down on the endless paper stacks these types of files consume.”

During the implementation of the TargetSolutions online training and records management system, organizations have the opportunity to create a sequence of folders that can be broken down into multiple categories and stored within the File Center. This provides a virtual file cabinet for all documents important to organizational efficiency. The end result is less paper and overall improvements in operational efficiency.

“When new SOP’s are generated they must be read and signed off by every member before the policy can be implemented and enforced in the case of disciplinary policies,” said TargetSolutions’ Product Specialist Tim Riley, who prior to joining TargetSolutions worked as a training chief with the Dunedin Fire Department in Florida.

“The archaic process could take weeks with vacation leave, sick leave, swap time, education leave and any other reason people were not at work. Organizations using the TargetSolutions platform can simply upload the SOP to their File Center, attach it to a Custom Activity, assign it with a start and due date, require an e-signature, and even follow up with a test or quiz to actually ensure they read the document.”

If the policy requires verification of completion, TargetSolutions provides e-signatures for ensuring accountability. If you’d like more information on this powerful application, please contact us for more information.

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

Scenario-Based Simulation Training Helps Firefighters See ‘the Big Picture’

 

Blog by Joe Pronesti
Captain with the Elyria Ohio Fire Department

In almost 25 years in the fire service, not a single day has gone by in which I didn’t thank the Lord for my blessings. But I’ve come across a few who weren’t as grateful. The types who come in at 8 a.m., or whatever time their shift begins, and are simply there just to collect a paycheck.

If you are a company officer or a command level officer in a small- to mid-size department and you haven’t seen a ton of fire, I have one word of advice: Beware. The easily contracted disease of complacency can reach out and infect you. Its important you don’t let this happen.

My recommendation is to keep your head in the books. Study video, audio and constantly challenge yourself to be ready to face a fire or emergency, no matter how long it’s been since your last one.

Be prepared so you will always have the capability to see the big picture. Never stop studying and analyzing fire, smoke behavior tactics and strategy. People who have been married a long time say the key to a successful marriage is being able to put forth an effort every day to your spouse. The same holds true in firefighting. Put forth an effort — even when you’re off-duty or not in the station — and you will have a successful and happy career.

Keep in mind, almost everything we do at a fire impacts the safety of other firefighters, as well as the success of the operation. Fortunately, technology is here to help us prepare, including software for simulations. Consider picking one up in an effort to help with bell hits.

One of the greatest things about these simulators is their ability to localize simulations. All you need is a camera to get out of the station and take some pictures of your buildings.

To help you get started, below is a template of a scenario you can incorporate into your own simulation training.

Simulation Training

Here’s the scenario: A call comes in around 7 p.m. on a hot summer night. Dispatch states police officers are on the scene. There is a working fire in a truck parked between an occupied multiple-family dwelling and a long time vacant. Upon arrival, this is the only information you have.

You can incorporate any questions you want, but below are some standard ones to help you get started:

1. Do you need more help?
2. Where would you spot first engine and truck?
3. How does the construction involved effect fire spread?
4. First line position/size?
5. Second line position/size?
6. Search to start where?
7. Would you start search ahead of line(s)?
8. Ventilation issues/profile?
9. Additional thoughts concerns, etc.

Now in this particular simulation, I used nine questions, but you may want to follow a known fire service acronym, like COAL WAS WEALTH, for example. Use your imagination and remember, keeping your skills sharp is critical to success.

So next time your crew is sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee, instead of talking about city politics or the state of your department, put a picture of one of your buildings on fire on the table for everyone to analyze. I guarantee you will generate excellent banter, leading to knowledge. The end result will be a more educated, safer department, more prepared to see the big picture.

About the Author
Joe Pronesti is a 24-year veteran of the Elyria Ohio Fire Department where he currently serves as a shift captain. He is a certified fire instructor and teaches at the Cuyahoga Community College Fire Academy near Cleveland. He is also a graduate of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Executive Fire Officer Program Class VI.

 

Platform Managers Can Easily Modify All Types of Assignments with TargetSolutions

Have you ever assigned an online training course or custom activity and realized afterward you assigned the wrong start or due date? Have you ever changed your mind about having your users complete a course or activity after you assigned it? Have you ever forgotten what you had assigned to users?

Inside the Administration tab there is an easy solution for all of these mistakes: The Manage Assignments application.

Administrators can easily update their assignments by selecting the users and assignments they would like to modify. They can also easily modify multiple assignments for multiple users with just a few simple clicks.

Administrators can reorder this list by clicking on user, assignment, status, start date, and/or due date. They can also edit multiple assignments and have the option to edit start/due dates. Once they have made their assignment selections, they can click the Edit Selected button and then choose their new dates. They can also delete any currently assigned item. Operating this powerful application is easy to learn and very efficient.

If you would like more information on this tool, please contact TargetSolutions at (800) 840-8048.

Managing Detailed Information Is Simple with Components Manager

The Components Manager feature inside TargetSolutions’ industry-changing Activities Builder application allows users to record completions faster and more accurately. It also allows administrators to optimize reporting capabilities, leading to more accurate, easier to read reports.

With Component Manager, administrators can set the parameters of a specific component so information filters exactly how it should be when generating reports. Administrators also have the ability to limit answer types on custom activities to text, numbers, dates and multiple choice.

By setting these components, administrators ensure forms are only being filled with the data they need. This helps minimize user error.

A popular option is to use the multiple choice feature that limits users to only select from a pre-populated list, eliminating the need to manually type answers. This saves time and ensures standardization in data.

To add additional training components, administrators need to simply contact their dedicated account manager. Using Components Manager to track information has proven to be fast and effective tool for TargetSolutions’ clients in all industries.

In the Presence of Overwhelming Evidence: Self Awareness for Fire Commanders

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

You might think that if a commander were faced with overwhelming evidence that the incident they are operating at was not going well they’d see it and do something different to prevent a tragic outcome. Yet, evidence to the contrary is well documented in the investigation reports. Why, in the face of overwhelming evidence, would a commander not change the plan?

One explanation is, they can’t see it. Not because they are physically removed from the incident and therefore cannot see the bad things coming (though that can be a contributor). Rather, they’re looking right at it and cannot see it. They’re blind to what is right in front of them.

It seems implausible. I know there are skeptics and critics. That is why I devised an exercise that I use in the Mental Management of Emergencies program where I have participants solve a simple problem. They write their answers down on a piece of paper and then raise their hand. I come around to see what they’ve written. Then I ask them if they are certain their answer is right. They look at the paper and affirm it is (often with a great degree of confidence).

The only problem is, their answer isn’t right and the instant I tell them it’s not and the reason its not, they immediately realize it. But right up to that point, they were blind to it. The overwhelming evidence that proved they were wrong was written in their very own handwriting and they were staring right at it. And yet they couldn’t see it.

This exercise serves as a powerful example of the stubborn nature of the human brain. You see what you want to see. You can lock on to a solution to a problem and refuse to see alternative solutions. And, sadly, in the presence of overwhelming evidence that you’re wrong, you may take a stand (even argue) that you are right. These human factor challenges can have catastrophic consequences for first responders. And sadly, you may never know you’re displaying these undesirable traits until it’s too late.

The key to working through these challenges is awareness. Not situational awareness. Rather, self-awareness. Understanding your own limitations and shortcomings as a human being and acknowledging these challenges exist. So when someone comes up to you and points out the overwhelming evidence that you’re on a path to catastrophe, you don’t reflexively argue and defend your position. Rather the alarm bells go off in your head and you seek to reconcile your error in time to change the outcome.

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.

Easily Track Certifications, Training Records and More with TargetSolutions’ Credentials Application

TargetSolutions utilizes the Manage Credentials application to package online fire department training courses and custom activities together to track fire department ISO training standards.

TargetSolutions’ powerful Manage Credentials tool helps organizations manage training more efficiently and productively. It’s an easy-to-use application that makes life easier for platform managers.

With Credentials, you can combine online training courses and/or custom activites together to deliver bundled packages of training or compliance tasks. You can create job-specific training tracks, featuring customized alerts, deliver them to personnel and then generate comprehensive reports.

One of TargetSolutions’ most popular Credentials is the ISO Training Tracker, which is critical to a fire department because it has a direct impact on a city’s ISO rating and insurance rates. Departments can assign ready-made training assignments to their employees covering ISO Driver Training, ISO Officer Training, ISO Hazmat Training, ISO Company Training and ISO Facilities Training.

After a crew completes the assignments, the TargetSolutions’ recordkeeping system automatically tracks completions and generates detailed reports structured perfectly for ISO’s reviewing process.

By accurately tracking and organizing completed training hours with the Credentials application, training managers can see deficiencies in personnel’s training. In this ISO training report (above), C Shift personnel have all met 100 percent of their Company Training hours, but are still short in other categories critical to ISO.

TargetSolutions Credentials application can also be used for tracking onboarding new hires, driver’s licenses, and National Incident Management System training.

Here is a quick break down of these three types of credentials:

Onboarding New Hires: This credential bundles courses and activities that new employees need to complete when beginning their employment.

License Expirations: This credential tracks employees who are required to keep a current driver’s license on file. Customizable alerts notify both you and your employee when it is time to update the records.

National Incident Management System (NIMS): This credential allows you to bundle and track your NIMS training.

For more information on pre-built Platform Solutions for the Fire industry, which utilize the Credentials application, please click here.

In addition, TargetSolutions features pre-built training and compliance management solutions for Law Enforcement, Cities & Municipalities, School Districts and Risk Pools.

To learn more, please contact TargetSolutions support at (800) 840-8048.

Goodwill Industries of San Diego County Sees Decrease in Accidents After Using TargetSolutions Online Safety Training Courses

Goodwill Industries of San Diego County is part of a network of autonomous corporations that operate under the Goodwill name in the United States. The organization’s mission is to get people with disabilities and other barriers to find work by developing their skills through training.

Since November of 2011, the Goodwill in San Diego has looked to TargetSolutions for managing organizational training and communicating efficiently with supervisors across all departments. The organization utilizes money generated from the sale of donated goods to hire and train employees with disabilities.

“What really helps Goodwill Industries of San Diego County is the number of courses,” Asset Protection Director Marco Guizar said of TargetSolutions’ online safety training courses.

“The library of courses that is offered clearly falls into the training that we do in-house, as well. TargetSolutions’ courses also correlate well with the training that we hand down to our department supervisors.”Goodwill Industries of San Diego

Goodwill Industries of San Diego County is audited by Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, which mandates specific training by corporations to demonstrate quality, transparency and commitment to the satisfaction of those being served.

For Goodwill, access to TargetSolutions’ online course catalog, which features OSHA & Compliance and Driver Safety Training, allows it to remain compliant with CARF employment standards. Courses mandated by CARF are easily recorded as completions within each supervisor’s file and can be quickly organized into reports for audits.

Aside from remaining compliant with auditing regulations, Guizar notes that Goodwill utilizes many of TargetSolutions’ courses purely to benefit the training and development of exceptional employee work habits.

For example, within the Fleet Department, Goodwill assigns a number of the courses to maintain and develop well-trained drivers. The implementation of driver safety training increases overall awareness of vehicle operation standards and safety regulations. In the past, Goodwill Industries of San Diego County was averaging approximately four accidents within a three-month span yielding an estimated 16 accidents per year.

“We feel that the ability to raise awareness among our Fleet Department and easily train our drivers has played a part in decreasing the number of accidents,” Guizar said. “By increasing the diligence in our training and increasing awareness, our Fleet Department is now down to averaging only four to five accidents per year.”

With the ability to attach policies and procedures within courses, such as “Reasonable Suspicion of Alcohol and Drugs,” “Ethics in the Workplace” and “Bloodborne Pathogens,” employees and supervisors are provided guidance for important tasks and operations in each department.

“For the courses that are more generic to a business, we like to attach our policies and procedures so that the training includes our organization’s specifications, as well,” Guizar said. “When it comes to training management, TargetSolutions has been a great benefit to us.

“The platform has been a great way to reach out to the masses because it is difficult to congregate all supervisors in one area, and with TargetSolutions we are able to assign courses and they can do them at home if they wish. TargetSolutions has just been a great benefit to our organization and we are really thankful that we have the platform!”

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions exists to deliver cutting-edge software applications, engaging online training courses, and world-class customer service. TargetSolutions was founded in 1999 and today there are more than 2,000 organizations across the country using TargetSolutions to solve their training needs.

Considerations for Smaller-Sized Departments Dealing with High-Rise Fires

Blog by Will Anderson
Platoon Chief with the Euclid Fire Department in Ohio

Serving as a Platoon Chief with the Euclid Fire Department in Ohio, there’s no shortage of work to do. Like most of you, our call volume is up, while our budget is down. In 2012, we answered nearly 8,500 calls for service with a staff of around 80 cross-trained firefighter/paramedics.

Euclid offers a little bit of everything. We have a major interstate (I-90) that allows more than 1 million vehicles to pass through each week. We have heavy and light industry, commercial buildings, two major rail lines, rapid transit buses, and a large Metro-Park, which all bring the chance for technical rescue and hazardous material incidents.

We also have an aging housing stock. More than 85 percent of homes were built before 1970, and thousands of these houses are nearing the century mark. Also, since the 1960s, the city has seen more than 30 high-rises built, all of fire-resistive construction (Type 1). Most are residential, a handful are commercial. Our tallest building is 21 stories and I’m told were home to the largest apartment complex for senior citizens between Chicago and New York City.

Daily, we’re faced with EMS calls, elevator emergencies, alarm activations, odor investigations, or some type of fire in these buildings. The personnel of the Euclid Fire Department have become very well accustomed to operating in our high-rise buildings.

This blog will cover a serious fire in a seven-story commercial building that I functioned as Incident Commander (IC). There were several lessons learned and reinforced from this fire that I wish to pass on. This isn’t to say I’m an expert, I haven’t seen it all, but there was a lot to learn from this experience that I’d like to share:

 

When I entered the fire service in 1995, it was taboo to talk about mistakes made at a fire. It was perceived as a sign of weakness. If you learned anything from anyone else, it was usually how to not do something. A little over a decade ago, however, I realized there was a better way to look at things. Professional development took on a new meaning for me. Suddenly, I couldn’t get enough training. This belief still holds true today.

The fire I’m focusing on in this article occurred at 3 a.m. We received multiple calls for fire showing from a high-rise office building. It was only six months prior I was with a crew of firefighters performing a company inspection of this building. I remember thinking then that a fire in this 60,000 square foot building could be very bad. Now we were faced with fire showing from multiple windows on the second floor.

Prior to my arrival, I requested our Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) to be activated. We were responding with two engines, one truck and three ambulances. I was in a command vehicle. We knew all hands would be going to work based on what we were being told. The mutual aid request would bring an additional three engines, one truck, and one ambulance from neighboring cities. I should mention that our medics assigned to an ambulance typically function in a firefighting capacity at working fires unless they’re specifically designated to serve as an EMS crew.

On arrival, crews began receiving their assignments. Attack was the first assignment given. It’s been my experience that the sooner we get water on any fire, the better things seem to be. The fire was auto-exposing up to the third floor. Due to the size of the fire, I assigned a back-up line to protect the attack crew. The third assignment given was vertical ventilation of the stairwell. This process consisted of opening up roof doors and roof hatches.

What working incident could go without a problem or two, right? During the offensive firefight, interior crews communicated they were making progress, but they had low pressure. A few moments later the pump operator informed me we had lost our supply line. Suddenly, a large amount of water was seen bubbling up from underground. We had a water main break and lost our hydrant.

At that point, interior crews had made some progress, but I ordered all interior crews down to the first floor until a new supply could be established. Within a couple of minutes, we had secured a second water supply from a neighboring department (Willoughby Hills Fire Department), which also responded on the box. In the meantime, the assisting Wickliffe Fire Department, which was handling RIT duties, was redeployed to the exterior to set up a ground monitor on the Delta side of the building to prepare for a defensive attack. The team secured its own water supply to support efforts. Fortunately, we never had to go defensive on this fire.

Interior crews quickly went back to work on Division 2 of the building. Searches were being conducted on the upper floors, utilities were being controlled, and significant progress was being made. About this time I received a radio report that a large section of drop ceiling had collapsed on a crew of firefighters, but entanglement was being addressed. One firefighter was able to free himself and his crew with large wire cutters he carries for such an event. A “MAYDAY” was never called because this well-trained crew kept its calm and performed extremely well under pressure. A back-up crew was in place and RIT was standing by if either were needed. Fortunately, neither was.

This fire reinforced many different topics relating to our job and our safety. Here’s an overview of the key takeaways:

>> Small departments are initially at a disadvantage for serious fires in high-rises: We know high-rises are not relegated to metropolitan areas only. Smaller cities have these building, and despite limited staffing, need to be ready. We have a minimum staffing of three on each apparatus (one officer and two firefighters). Ambulances have a minimum of two. We typically arrive with 10-12 firefighters at a high-rise incident. We’re forced to rely on mutual aid from surrounding communities. Getting that first line in operation is extremely important. The saying is so true: So goes the first line, so goes the fire.

>> Training is paramount: Training issues in high rises can provide a department with opportunities to hone their skills. Pay attention during company inspections. Know the locations of the FDCs, standpipes, and boiler and elevator rooms. Are there compactor shafts in your high-rises? What’s your plan for a compactor fire? Do you know which type of elevator key is needed? Are the elevators hydraulic or electric? Do you know the numbering system of the apartments? Where is the Knox box location? If you open a standpipe but have no water, can you troubleshoot the problem? Are you hooking up on the fire floor or the floor below? Do your standpipes have pressure-reducing valves (PRV)? The opportunities to learn are nearly endless in a high-rise. Do your part to teach your younger, less-experienced members how to stay alive in these buildings.

>> Complacency: If we bring a 2.5-story wood-frame mindset to a high-rise building, were setting ourselves up for failure. Failure in our business means injury and maybe death. Our department has a good amount of experience with fires in residential high-rises. We lack experience with fires in commercial high-rises. As I was giving assignments to crews at this fire, I told each crew to slow down and think about what we were going into. I told them this fire was different than what were used to. After the fire, several members came up to me and thanked me for telling them that. It made them realize the seriousness of the fire and how a commercial high-rise differs from a residential high-rise. Residential high-rises of Type 1 construction are compartmentalized very well. It’s unlikely the fire will extend beyond the apartment of origin unless it auto-exposes to the floor above or the occupant leaves the apartment door open as they escape. By code, the doors are supposed to be self-closing. Also, the apartments are typically no larger than 700-800 square feet. Conversely, commercial high-rises cover large open areas. Each floor of the fire building we faced was nearly 8,000 square feet in size. Most are much larger than this. Also, commercial high-rises likely have increased fire loads, maze-like interiors, HVAC systems that can spread smoke and fire, and drop ceilings that may have illegally-stored wiring and conduit above the ceiling panels. When these drop due to fire exposure, they can trap and kill unsuspecting firefighters below. The point is to know your buildings!

>> Role of the Incident Commander: It’s easy for a new command-level officer to feel the need to help by pulling hose, propping doors, making a connection to a hydrant, etc. when staffing is limited in a small department. Don’t do it! Another featured contributor at TargetSolutions is Dr. Richard Gasaway. He is considered the subject matter expert on situational awareness and writes extensively on the topic and how it pertains to the role of the Incident Commander (IC). Please take the time to read his material. It will make your fireground safer! To provide crews with the best possible chance for success, an IC needs to be totally focused on his/her job. If an IC is pulling hose, how can he/she be focusing on the big picture? We face risk at each fire we respond to. As an IC, some risk can be controlled and some can’t. You owe it to your personnel to provide them with the best chance for success. You can do this by totally focusing on the needs of the incident, staying one step ahead, knowing your personnel, and delegating tasks to support officers or senior advisors.

This first article covered a lot of information. I hope it stimulates some discussion amongst your members around the kitchen table. Regardless, firefighters have a duty to pass on their experience to new members. Dennis Smith of FDNY (retired) once said, “a true mark of a leader lies in how he treats and teaches the lowest member of a department: the probie.” Officers have a duty and obligation not only to their firefighters, but also to their families. Company officers, you have to do your part to make sure your crew goes home safe and healthy at the end of their shifts.

Chief Officers have the same job, but also the additional responsibility of doing their part to make sure these same firefighters go home safe and healthy at the end of their careers. By working together, we can make that happen.

Thanks for reading and stay safe!

 

About the Author

Will Anderson is a Platoon Chief with the Euclid Fire Department in Ohio. He’s in his 18th year in the fire service and is certified as a State of Ohio Firefighter 2, Fire Instructor, and Paramedic. He recently completed his Fire Officer 1, 2, and 3 training in addition to his Blue Card certification. He has an Associate’s degree in Fire Science, another in Emergency Medical Services, and is nearing completion of his Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science Administration.

TargetSolutions Launches New School Shooting Awareness Course

School shootings have been making news headlines left and right. And while no school district wants to believe this unthinkable act will ever happen in one of their schools, it is vital that all school district employees have a thorough understanding of school shooting awareness.

TargetSolutions’ newly released School Shooting Awareness course highlights everything from the characteristics surrounding past school shootings to warning signs and the role mental health often plays in these horrific acts. It also discusses how to identify, assess, and respond to potential threats, including safety precaution suggestions and ways to improve campus security.

This course also breaks the mold of the typical TargetSolutions course, as it includes an illustrated instructor and audio narration throughout. We hope the invaluable information will help keep students and faculty safer when these unfortunate events happen.

If you would like more information on this course, or any other courses in TargetSolutions library, please contact us today at support@targetsolutions.com.

Creating and Managing Supervisory Privileges Is Easy with TargetSolutions

TargetSolutions recently updated the Manage Users tool, which was built to help platform administrators share training management responsibilities to help organizations run more efficiently. The tool gives administrators the ability to have other members of their organization operate the TargetSolutions platform. Administrators can maintain control of their account by creating and managing supervisory privileges over various applications and/or segmented individuals but not the entire site.

Upgrading users to supervisors is very simple. From the Administration tab, select Manage Users and find the individual you would like to grant supervisor privileges. After selecting the individual, click on the Access tab to specify the applications and/or user they are being granted access to oversee.

The Access tab permits administrators to view and edit supervisor rights. This tab becomes editable as soon as it is accessed, and administrators can change supervisor rights at any time. If a supervisor began with the ability to record completions, for example, the administrator can later decide to remove this functionality. Creating and managing supervisory privileges is not just easy, but beneficial in helping administrators operate their account and make the most of the TargetSolutions platform.

For more information, contact TargetSolutions at (800) 840-8048.