Technology with a Purpose

Archive for April, 2013

TargetSolutions’ New “Power Users Group” Helps Platform Managers Connect and Share Best Practices

TargetSolutions, the leader in online training management for public entities, is growing its presence on LinkedIn by creating a Power Users Group.

This special group is designed to enhance communication between TargetSolutions and the platform’s most active administrators. With utilization spiking to unprecedented levels, there are many individuals who will see great value in joining the group that connects administrators looking to maximize TargetSolutions.

We see this as a good opportunity for administrators around the nation to communicate with each other on their department’s utilization of the platform, said Client Services Manager Jennifer Antinone. With utilization growing at such a huge rate, it’s obvious our platform has tremendous value for clients. By creating this special group, the most experienced power user can share their knowledge and discuss best practices with their peers in the group.

We really think it’s important to give our clients as much information as possible so they can make the most of TargetSolutions’ online training management for public entities.

TargetSolutions is on pace to have more than 6.5 million assignments completed in 2013, which represents an increase of more than 150 percent since 2010. By giving platform managers more tools for collaborating through social media, utilization will continue to grow.

Members of TargetSolutions’ Power Users Group can expect to see updates on enhancements to the platform, blog posts explaining some tips for best practices, as well as comments and questions from other users. TargetSolutions’ exceptional Client Services team will also contribute to the discussions by suggesting ideas and answering questions.

Client Services is excited to have a new forum where our power users can go for new ideas and collaboration, said Antinone. We want every client to make the most of our online training system for public entities and this is just one more tool they have to learn about the platform.

If you’re a platform administrator and would like to join the Power Users Group, please click here to get started.

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.

Access Completed Training Records through My History

TargetSolutions keeps track of all assignments and those completed training records can be accessed at any time by clicking on My History from the home page.

Depending on whether the completion is a TargetSolutions course or a custom activity, there is a details column with information containing assignment information, a course certificate and/or a course evaluation.

The magnifying glass icon displays the details of an assignment in a brief, yet useful format. You can review the number of times the course was accessed and/or the final score on a test, among other things. Provided there was a certificate of completion associated to the course, you can view/print the certificate using the ribbon icon. And the thumbs up icon lets you view your course evaluation, assuming you completed one after taking a course.

The evaluation is an interactive feature. TargetSolutions staff members are able to reply to your comment and in this case, you will receive a notification via the Notifications box of the reply.

A few things to note:

>> Please refrain from taking a course through My History as you are only able to review course material, not retake exams in this application.

>> You will know you successfully completed a course if it moved from the Schedule on the Home page into My History.

>> TargetSolutions deliberately inactivates accounts (rather than deleting them) when users retire, leave an organization, etc. By law, completed training records are kept for upward of 30 years. Inactive users can call TargetSolutions customer support at (800) 840-8048 to gain temporary access to their account to print certificates of completions.

If you have questions about TargetSolutions My History section, or any part of the TargetSolutions platform, please check the platforms Help section or contact us directly.

 

Platform users can access completed training records through ‘My History’ selection.

 

Keep Organizations Informed Through TargetSolutions’ Improved Alert Notification System

With TargetSolutions’ improved Alert Notifications system, it’s easy to keep your organization informed of approaching deadlines. Alert Notifications grants administrators the ability to deliver alerts to improve operational efficiency.

The Alert Notifications system informs users when an assignment has become urgent and needs immediate attention. In the administrative notifications section, administrators are able to view organization-wide notifications like approaching license and credential expiration of certain users.

The Notification drop-down box is prominently located at the very top of the site and can be viewed from any page within the platform. Users and administrators will see the notification icon become highlighted when the delivery of new, unread notifications have been created. When a user or administrator clicks the “See My Notifications” or the See Admin Notifications option, it will direct them to their Notification Inbox.

Administrators have both a personal inbox and administrator inbox, while users only have a personal. Within the inbox delete notifications by clicking the “X” located on the right of the alert message. Deleted notifications are moved to the folder labeled “Trash.” Notifications sent to the trash folder can still be recovered. Please note, Notifications cannot be permanently deleted from the Trash folder so administrators can verify all received notifications by users.

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

Drop-down notification menus display recently added alerts for events, assignments and other important items.

Garden Apartments: What We’ve Learned

Blog by Will Anderson

Platoon Chief with the Euclid Fire Department in Ohio

Garden apartments are found in virtually every community in the United States. Typically, garden apartments are grouped together on a large parcel of property with some being set back far off the main street. If these buildings are not properly pre-planned, a fire or serious emergency will prove difficult for responding fire departments.

This article will cover the characteristics of older garden apartments and how sticking with the basics of firefighting leads to a better operation.

There are many characteristics that make garden apartments unique. The first one we might notice is the entrance into the property. The property is usually served by only one driveway. Add in parking for residents and apparatus placement can be very difficult. If were fortunate, we will have at least one operable hydrant on the property. If not, are your engines capable of long lays to the main street? Also, certain buildings may be set back hundreds of feet off the main drive. Pre-connected hoses may not be an option. Are your apparatus set up with static-hose loads capable of reaching buildings with excessive setbacks? And who will carry the equipment needed to mount an attack on the fire? Your arrival at a working fire in one of these buildings is not the time to figure out who will take what equipment to the front door.

More questions to consider: Is access to the building a problem? Are fences or other barricades in your way? Are there security bars on the windows? In short, pre-planning is essential to success.

Garden apartments usually house up to 12 apartments and are around three stories in height; although some may be taller. Most apartments are served by a common entrance with an open interior stairwell serving each floor of the building. These buildings represent an extremely serious life hazard, regardless of the time of day. Also, these buildings attics are most likely an open and unobstructed lumberyard of dry wood underneath the roof surface. While roofs may be peaked or flat, newer roofs will likely be supported by trusses. Older garden apartments will not utilize truss construction. My experience is that garden apartments are not protected by sprinklers or standpipes.

As we enter an apartment from the stairwell hallway, the first room we usually enter is the kitchen. This is followed by the living room, which is connected to a short hallway where we encounter a bathroom and one or more bedrooms. Most living rooms will have a large opening for horizontal ventilation if there is a balcony with sliding doors, or large picture window, as seen in the picture above. Remember, apartments are stacked in a multi-story building. This means routes for fire extension exist in kitchens and bathrooms where plumbing voids run the vertical length of the building. If the fire has reached flashover, the fire may extend via auto-exposure up to the floor above, and possibly even the attic space. This could result in a fast-moving fire as seen in the picture below.

At this particular fire, the fire originated on the second floor (Division 2) in a bedroom of a three-story garden apartment. There was a delay notifying the fire department. At this incident (pictured above), the door to the apartment on fire held. Conditions in the stairwell were clear as the first line was being stretched. Had the door failed prior to the arrival of the fire department, any civilians evacuating would have been overcome by intense heat and deadly smoke making a bad situation even worse.

Crews at this scene were met by a fast-moving fire that had possession of two apartments with extension into a third apartment and the attic space. Life safety must be given the highest priority. Remember, most lives are protected and saved by strategically placing the first hoseline between the fire and any trapped occupants. Before additional hoselines are put into operation, make sure the first line is up and running. Water kills fire. If we darken down the fire and put it out, everything else usually gets better. Searches are less punishing, overhaul is easier, and property and lives are saved.

Part of a successful incident is the prior knowledge we have of the buildings in our first-due area. Make it a point to get out and learn what types of buildings youre up against. A quick walk around the exterior can make you aware of hydrant locations, overhead obstructions (wires, overhangs, etc.), grade/terrain changes, parking issues, and exposure concerns. Once inside the building, make it a point to locate the utility shut-offs, attic access or roof hatches, and learn the layouts of a typical apartment.

EMS incidents are an excellent opportunity to do this. Identifying these building features will take no more than 10 minutes. Its time well spent. You owe it to yourself, your crew, and your family to make sure everyone goes home at the end of the shift. Thanks for reading and be 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 Looks to Educate FDIC Attendees about ISO Tracking Capabilities

Thousands of firefighters from around the country are gathering this week at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC). Attendees come for the classroom sessions, hands-on training events and networking with other emergency responders.

They also have the opportunity to examine products being showcased by vendors. Those looking for a web-based ISO audit solution will want to visit TargetSolutions at booth No. 3061. Representatives from the industry’s leading online training and records management system will be on hand demonstrating the powerful platforms capabilities.

“TargetSolutions is excited to once again attend FDIC in 2013,” said TargetSolutions’ Executive Vice President Thom Woodward. “In addition to our yearly attendance objectives to raise awareness and generate interest in the TargetSolutions brand, we will be demonstrating the unique value our ISO audit solution is bringing our clients. FDIC is always an important way for us to reconnect and network with prospects, clients and partners alike. We are looking forward to it!”

TargetSolutions delivers an online suite of applications for fire and EMS organizations looking to meet training objectives, track all types of training records and report training compliance. The innovative platform is used by more than 2, across the country, including major metro fire agencies all the way down to small volunteer departments.

TargetSolutions is considered a pioneer in the online education featuring more than , in its library. Training covers EMS recertification, Fire/NFPA material, emergency vehicle operations, OSHA & Compliance, and much more.

But as Woodward mentioned, the platforms powerful tracking tools for training requirements like ISO is extremely critical to departments looking to improve overall compliance.

“TargetSolutions has created a records system that clearly allowed our organization to comply with our scheduled ISO audit in September 2010,” said Guy Keirn, who is a training chief with Pinellas Park Fire Department in Florida. “The process of completing the training section of the report for ISO was seamless.”

That same sentiment is shared by hundreds of training chiefs, officers and captains across the country using TargetSolutions to streamline training management and track critical training records.

“TargetSolutions is a very strong platform for tracking certifications, hours and all the things you need from a certification standpoint,” said Bob Olme, who is an assistant chief with Wheat Ridge Fire Department in Colorado. “It’s also a great way to keep track of records for ISO compliance.”

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.

Clients Can Learn More about Platform During Special Monthly Webinars

Did you know TargetSolutions hosts monthly webinars to teach clients how they can make the most of our online training and records management system? These special events, hosted by various representatives from TargetSolutions Client Services team, provide clients with helpful information they need to operate the platform more efficiently.

The next webinar is scheduled for April 25 at 8:30 a.m. (PST). The subject of the webinar is titled, “Delivering Custom Content,” and will cover loading items into the File Center, creating custom activities and delivering the activities to personnel.

Each monthly webinar features a different training topic, but attendees are allowed to submit questions during the 30-minute overview. If the Client Services representative is unable to answer during the webinar, the client will receive an answer to the question offline. TargetSolutions is committed to delivering as much support as possible to help clients learn more about the platforms intricacies.

A week before each webinar, platform administrators will receive an e-mail informing them of the next webinar. The e-mail explains the training topic that will be covered, as well as the date and time it will take place. Administrators can register for the webinar directly from the e-mail announcement.

If an administrator is unable to attend the webinar, recordings of the online sessions are saved in the Help system and are accessible for viewing 24/7. Along with the recording of the webinar, a Question & Answer document is available that lists the questions administrators were not able to answer during the webinar.

To view previous webinar recordings, please login to your organizations site, go to the Help section, click on Browse Administrator Support and search webinar in the search bar. We hope you will attend our next webinar!

Steps for Improving Your Working Memory During Stressful Situations

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

It probably comes as no surprise that we have a limited capacity to remember and recall things. This is true of both short-term (or working) memory and long-term memory. This article addresses some of the vulnerabilities of working memory and how you might overcome them.

Capacity: The capacity of working memory is far smaller than most of us would like to believe. The proof of this first came into prominence in the 1950s when Princeton psychologist George Miller discovered the average person can take in, process, comprehend and recall about seven (give or take two) pieces of unrelated information. Miller’s research has been robustly confirmed with additional studies conducted worldwide. Subsequent studies revealed that by adding stressors into the environment, the average of seven pieces of information can be reduced to five.

Five to seven pieces of unrelated information is the limit of working memory. It is no coincidence that span of control is recommended to be in the five to seven range. That number was not randomly selected. Rather, it was based research that started with Miller and continues today.

Forgetfulness: It’s a cruel fact, but when your working memory begins to get overloaded or overwhelmed, it begins to forget things. Unfortunately, unlike your computer, your brain is not equipped with a convenient delete key you can depress to forget something. The delete function is present, nonetheless. You just are not in conscious control of it. What your brain chooses to forget is determined at a level you cannot control.

Sadly, your brain isn’t very good at prioritizing the short-term information storage and retrieval based on what you may, at the moment, think is important. The process for what moves on to long-term storage (termed consolidation) and what is not yet completely understood. But it appears that past experiences and emotions play a big role in what is stored and what is lost. You need to know that some of the most important information (as you perceive it, anyhow) may be shed by the brain and, once shed, is lost from memory. This can include incident information critical to survival.

Fixing the Problem: I probably don’t have to spend much time convincing you that if you are vulnerable to forgetting critical information under stress, your situational awareness becomes at great risk of loss as well. There are ways you can reduce the impact of short-term memory loss and improve firefighter working memory. Here are just a few suggestions:

1. Don’t Try to Multi-Task: It is, virtually, impossible to multitask when it comes to paying attention. Going back and forth between tasks (termed interleaving) is very demanding on the short-term memory and some memory of both tasks is subject to degradation.

2. Share the Workload: The old adage that two heads are better than one is true, so long as there is an understanding between those two heads that each person will play a certain role in managing information and avoid duplication by remembering all the same stuff. Assigning someone to monitor radio traffic is a good way to shed short-term information processing workload.

3. Write It Down: Writing down what needs to be remembered, which as seemingly simple as that advice may appear, is not done often enough in the haste of incident management, especially in the early stages of the incident when information is coming in at a furious pace and the focus is on mission critical task completion. This is also the time when stress is highest and the potential for memory loss is greatest.

4. Prioritize in Advance: Identify in advance the most important pieces of information you’ll need to manage. Use a checklist to ensure you’re gathering and documenting that information. Checklists also serve as a good to-do list of things that need to be accomplished.

Checklists and Worksheets: You are attempting to manage two types of short-term memory: Retrospective memory, the memory of everything that has already been done; and, Prospective memory, the memory of everything that has not yet been done but needs to get done. Under stress, the prospective memory is the more vulnerable. Checklists help manage prospective memory. Worksheets help manage retrospective memory.

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.

Viewing Custom Activities During Creation Process Now Available with Preview Activity Functionality

TargetSolutions now provides the ability to preview custom activities through the newly released Preview Activity functionality inside the Activities Builder application. This added functionality saves platform managers time and makes delivering custom activities more efficient.

Platform managers can now preview how an activity is going to look for their users while building the activity. This functionality is especially important when activities are being used to deliver embedded video or other media.

The Preview button appears underneath the Edit Activity Settings button. If the privacy option for editing the activity has been disabled, the preview button will not appear. It will appear, however, in all other cases. Clicking the button will open activity preview mode on the same page.

The preview mode page shows the administrator exactly how the activity will look when accessed by his users at the assignment level. To learn more about preview mode, and its capabilities, please contact TargetSolutions.

Soften the Structure: A Rapid Intervention Company Safety Solution

Blog by Ed Hadfield
www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com

Firefighters are injured and killed in structure fires at an alarming rate. According to the NFPA, residential structure fires account for 79 percent of all occupancy fires in America. With that said, as Incident Commanders, we often fail to recognize the importance of providing a Softening Solution on our residential structure fires. In this article I will explain the importance of:

>> Structure Identification
>> RIC Assessment
>> Access and Egress Portal Softening Techniques
>> Portal Identification
>> Softening Techniques on Residential Structures

For the last few years, fire service agencies across America have done an adequate job addressing the issue of Rapid Intervention and the use of Rapid Intervention Company (RIC). However, we still find fire service organizations fail to utilize the RIC in a proactive fashion.

As Incident Commanders and Rapid Intervention Group Supervisors, it is important to recognize the primary goal of identifying and removing all potential hazards on the fire ground in an effort to reduce the chances of deployment.

In the event of an RIC deployment, the keys to success are: firefighter identification, location of the down firefighter, and the reason for entrapment. Once those factors have been established, the quickest access route and egress portal must be identified and used if the down firefighter is to be found in a sufficient amount of time. This should be done prior to the MAYDAY being called, and well planned by the RIC.

Structure Identification:
Structures typically fall into the following categories:

>> Residential
>> Commercial
>> Industrial
>> High-Rise

Each structure type also has a number of different groups. Therefore, we must break our occupancies into both structure type and group. For example, the residential structure has multiple groups including: residential single story, residential multi-story, multi-family habitations and the ever increasing residential care facility. Each group presents various hazards associated with the firefighting operations that must be addressed by the RIC team during their softening phase.

Additionally, any structure that is heavily secured or has multiple protected openings should be declared a high-density structure. This declaration gives clear direction to RIC personnel and a warning to all other personnel that are operating in or on the structure itself.

RIC Assessment:
Once the RIC has conducted primary structure identification, their initial actions to soften the structure should begin.

The RIC needs to assess the primary access portal, determine the number of personnel interior the occupancy, and address the primary portal for known hazards. Typical known hazards in this situation include the rather small orifice of the access portal given the number of personnel that have entered it, the potential of access portal closure, and lastly the lack of lighting at the access portal itself. All access and egress portals on any structure need to be addressed in this fashion.

Access and Egress Portal Softening Techniques:
For the purpose of the article, we will assume that personnel have responded to a large two-story residential structure that is considered a high-density structure, meaning it has multiple protected openings. Given this scenario, your company is assigned RIC responsibilities. Again, the goal of RIC is not only the protection of those personnel assigned to the incident, but you are also tasked with providing them support in the event of a civilian rescue. One of the best methods of support in this instance is to soften the structure for all personnel and RIC operations.

Portal Identification:
Once we have arrived on scene and identified this as a high-density structure, the next actions are to identify the primary access portal, determine which companies have entered this area, as well as determine approximately how many personnel are operating inside the occupancy.

For example, let’s say the first-due company went in the structure with a 1hose line after forcing the security screen door and the inward swinging front door.

As a softening technique, your goal would be the elimination of the security screen door from the structure and removal of the front door completely from the occupancy. First, utilizing a rotary saw cut the security screen door off its hinges and remove it completely from the occupancy. This will leave only the metal frame, which is lag-bolted into the occupancy itself. Then with your Halligan bar; pry the inward swinging front door out of the door frame at the hinge points. Once you have completed this task, drop a box light approximately 18 inches on the inside wall with the light shining across the floor area.

Next, you must identify the area of most danger to interior personnel. By conducting a structure assessment, you are looking for the area of greatest pressurization and generation of smoke. This is a general indicator of where the main body of fire may be located.

Given this is a two-story occupancy, it is safe to assume personnel will be working on the second floor conducting search operations, checking for extensions, and potentially engaging in firefighting operations.

At this point, personnel must be assigned to remove any protected opening from the upstairs windows or balcony doors. As part of an RIC assignment, it is imperative that you pay particular attention to the first-arriving officer’s size-up. When he/she has indicated they are on scene of a two-story residential occupancy that is a high-density structure, it should give you clear direction to bring a ladder as part of your RIC tool complement. Once the bars or other security devices have been removed, attempt to force the opening without breaking the glass. Unless horizontal ventilation is being requested, the glass will remain intact, but the opening should be forced to provide interior personnel with an egress portal that will allow for a rapid egress should it be required. Again, the key is to work from the area of greatest risk to interior personnel back to the area of least danger. Typically, this is the area where the initial attack has been made.

Lastly, once you have cleared a protected opening, it is important to immediately sweep and search inside that particularly opening. Much like the technique of Vent-Enter- Search, this technique includes Force-Sweep/Search-light-identify. As we all know, civilians will usually attempt to leave a burning structure. Given that fact, as you soften the structure, you will be accessing areas that interior crews may not be capable of searching immediately. Therefore, as part of your softening task, you could likely come across a civilian rescue just inside the door you are forcing for your brother firefighter.

The technique of Force-Sweep/Search-Light-Identify includes creating the access/egress point, placing a foot on the door jam or frame fanning out with your body and Halligan bar, and sweeping/searching the area of the portal for anyone that may be in the immediate vicinity. Multiple civilians have been located through utilization of this technique. Following your forcible entry or softening operations, a rapid search/sweep should be conducted. After an all-clear is accomplished, provide some lighting to the access/egress portal.

Finally, clearly identify to all companies operating inside which division or area has been softened, searched, and cleared.

The key element of any RIC operation is to remember, Any RIC deployment is a defining moment. The contents of this article clearly identify a change in the methodology and operations of most RIC operations. These operations are taking RIC operational set- up procedures, forcing you to think outside-the-box of conventional RIC wisdom.

Remember that 79 percent of all fires occur in residential structures. Of those, a majority of all firefighter fatalities occur in these seemingly benign fires. Dont let the routine fire become the one that takes the life of your brother or sister.

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

Tip of the Month: Track Offline Hands-On Training Activities with TargetSolutions

Did you know the TargetSolutions platform can easily track offline hands-on training activities? Not only does TargetSolutions automatically track completions for online fire training courses, we’ve built a tool to capture hours spent training offline.

With TargetSolutions’ Activities Builder application, you can create activities to track time for other classroom training, field training, conference, workshop, or anything else you can think of as long as you add the duration under Reportable Components when building the activity.

Why is this important? Because members of the fire service have hourly requirements mandated every year. Some agencies have very specific hourly requirements that if go met, can result in higher insurance ratings. That’s why firefighters spend more hours training than most could ever imagine and TargetSolutions has built a system to make sure those hours are accounted.

Building a custom activity is easy and all activities are completely customizable. Better yet, you can attach custom activities to topics in the Credentials Manager application, which gives departments the ability to effectively track employee training records and maintain an unlimited number of credentials, certifications, qualifications, and any other type of information.

If you would like more information on this tool, please contact TargetSolutions today.