Technology with a Purpose

Archive for December, 2013

Manage Credentials Application Enhancements Make Platform Even More Versatile

Earlier this year, TargetSolutions released the Auto Renewal for Credentials enhancement, which included several enhancements that make the application even more versatile for tracking firefighter training.

Platform managers can now utilize several additional filtering options that adjust how credentials are viewed by users. They can make credentials viewable from their users’ My Credentials page, eliminating unnecessary clutter on the home page, or they can have it show or be pinned on the home page.

Other enhancements include the ability to allow users to edit within an assigned credential. Previously, it had been an “all-or-nothing” feature, but now platform managers can enable users to individually edit items, including start and expiration dates, credential numbers and add attachments. This feature is valuable to organizations looking to allow users to attach files – such as scanned driver’s licenses and EMT cards – while limiting them from making any additional edits.

At the heart of the Credentials Options page is the ability to automatically renew credentials, which was a monumental upgrade for this tool. When all required training has been completed, platform managers can choose to have a credential renew on the credential’s completion date, on its expiration date, or to not automatically renew.

The Manage Credentials application enables departments to track training in an efficient manner – including fire department ISO training hours – and is considered one of TargetSolutions’ most powerful fire department software applications.

“The entire Auto Renewal for Credentials enhancement project as a whole was huge,” said Product Manager Misty Pratt. “It was probably the most important and biggest thing we did in 2013.”

For more information on the Auto Renewal for Credentials enhancements, please click here.

Auto Renewal for Credentials Enhancements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platform managers can allow their users to edit various portions of a credential, including start and expiration dates, with the Credentials Options functionality.

Test Your Aerial Operators with a Challenging and Fun Training Activity

Blog by Joseph Pronesti
Captain with Elyria Ohio Fire Department
You’re probably familiar with the bean-bag toss game called cornhole. Here is a firehouse variation that will improve your skills for aerial operations and bring some fun and lively competition to your crew.
We all have some type of daily, weekly, or monthly check where we put our aerial device into the air. I have seen repeatedly in my career where firefighters, myself included, go through the motions of pulling the apparatus out on the ramp, putting the aerial up, swinging it around a couple of times, bedding it, and then callimg it a day.
But here is the question: When we have to put that aerial in the air for a rescue of a civilian or a firefighter, will the conditions mimic your front apron of the firehouse? I doubt it.
The materials you need for aerial operations training activity is a piece of rope, a tennis ball and a heavy eyebolt screwed through the middle of the ball. Attach the other end of the rope to the aerial tip or bucket and have it hang down about 5 feet. Next, get some traffic cones or buckets and place them on the roof of your station on the ground. An even better idea that incorporates building familiarization, is to take your cones “on the road” to an empty strip mall or apartment building. Place your cones on these objects and let the fun/training begin.
The overall object is to have your operator from your turntable place the weighted ball on top of the cone or into the bucket. Obviously, the tip of the cone will be more of a challenge. Once the ball is on the tip, the operator goes to the next cone. You can time the evolution, or simply have your operators take their time and go to each one. Again, it’s up to your imagination for ways to challenge your crew. No matter what type of aerial you have, this game is designed for improving your operators at the turntable.
When I did this for the first time, one young firefighter told me he didn’t get much out of putting the ball on a cone. I didn’t do a good enough job explaining the point of the game. Don’t make my mistake. Explain how important it is to have competent operators. Good aerial operations can be more than just putting the stick up and flowing water! There will come a time when an operator will have to quickly maneuver the aerial device to rescue a civilian, or a firefighter who is trapped on a roof or window.
In my opinion doing the daily or weekly aerial check on the ramp isn’t going to be enough practice to help an operator succeed. Liken it to NFL teams who practice with the speakers blasting crowd noise to help create what they will face in the visitor’s stadium on a Sunday afternoon. You need to use some imagination and make training challenging. Plus, the competitive juices will start flowing when firefighters try to get the ball on the cone. Thanks to Platoon Chief Will Anderson of Euclid, Ohio Fire Department for showing me this drill.
Attach a tennis ball and make sure it is weighted on the end of a piece of rope to your aerial.
Have the operator from the turntable get the aerial into position to place weighted ball on the tip of the cone.
Place a cone on the ground to simulate a one-story strip or technical rescue.
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.

Users Can Update Their Own Profile Information, Including Passwords

Basic-level users can easily update their own personal information in profile settings of TargetSolutions’ online training system. The My Profile link in the upper right-hand corner of the platform has simplified the editing process, saving platform managers’ time by making the platform easier for everyone to operate.
The My Profile link empowers users to change their personal information, including password, email preferences, and security questions. Platform managers can also allow users to edit their own username, but must contact an account manager with TargetSolutions to activate this functionality.
In addition to account information, users can view organizational information inside profile settings. The Organization selection allows users to update information related to groups set up by the site’s platform manager.
With TargetSolutions’ user-friendly interface, users have the ability to update their own profile information at their own discretion, ensuring information is accurate and up-to-date.
My Profile Link

TargetSolutions Announces New TargetSolutions Academy, Featuring Special Webinar Series Built to Help Platform Managers Become More Proficient with Online System

With a focus on bringing exceptional value to clients and ensuring they have every resource necessary to operate the industry’s leading online training and records management system, TargetSolutions is excited to announce the creation of the TargetSolutions Academy.
The Academy will feature a special six-week webinar series, which opens for registration in early January and continues TargetSolutions’ ongoing effort to bring innovative education to clients.
“We’re thrilled to roll this out in Q1 of 2014,” said Kelly Zielinski, who is TargetSolutions Strategic Risk Management Business Unit Manager. “The TargetSolutions Academy is going to include an engaging webinar series that will help platform managers improve their skills while navigating the platform.”
On Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, TargetSolutions will host the first of six webinars built to help platform managers become more proficient operating the system. The series is aimed at training administrators and supervisors, who are responsible for managing their organization’s day-to-day utilization, about the platform’s basic functionality.
After completing the six-week series, clients will receive a certificate of completion. Zielinski said she is confident clients will be able to effectively run the basics at that point.
“Participants will learn tips and tricks to simplify primary utilization of the platform,” Zielinski said. “Our goal at completion is effective, independent operation of the platform. Of course, our account management team will continue to be a support, should clients need it.”
Here is a brief outline of the six webinars that will be held during the first TS Academy:
1. Managing Your Users (Jan. 30, 2014): This webinar will cover adding users, modifying user profiles, creating supervisors, defining categories, modifying organizational profiles, etc.
2. Managing Resources and Activities (Feb. 6, 2014): This webinar will cover the File Center, customizing TargetSolutions’ online training courses, creating custom activities, etc.
3. Managing Credentials (Feb. 13, 2014): This webinar will cover how to create new credentials, who credentials are for, and why they are used.
4. Managing Assignments (Feb. 20, 2014): This webinar will cover how to create, validate, record, delete, merge, renew and auto-renew various types of assignments delivered through TargetSolutions.
5. Managing Your Training Strategy (Feb. 27, 2014): This webinar will cover best practices for planning your organization’s training, building learning-track templates, handling employee turnover, etc.
6. Managing Reports (March 6, 2014): This webinar will cover the capabilities of TargetSolutions’ powerful Generate Reports application; giving platform managers more information on how to run various reports, including completions, incomplete assignments, credentials, etc.
Please click here to register for this special webinar series.
TargetSolutions will continue to host regular webinars for platform beginners as the Academy is designed for administrators and supervisors who have already completed their introductory training. If your organization is just getting started – or you need a basic refresher – please e-mail TargetSolutions to find out when you can join an upcoming weekly webinar.
Advanced administrators and supervisors will be excited to learn TargetSolutions is planning to implement more innovative webinars in 2014 to cover more in-depth topics. These webinars will focus on applying TargetSolutions’ powerful applications to industry-specific training requirements and operational procedures.
About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions delivers cutting-edge software applications, engaging online training courses and world-class customer service. The company was founded in 1999 and today there are more than 2,000 organizations across the country using TargetSolutions’ innovative technology to solve their training challenges.

 

TargetSolutions Revamped Environmental Emergencies Course for EMT Continuing Education

TargetSolutions has completely revamped its Environmental Emergencies (Basic) course in its online EMS training catalog. The newly revised offering has been redesigned to feature new references and updated content to enhance users’ learning experiences during the EMS recertification process.
To make the course more compelling, TargetSolutions’ team of subject experts interviewed EMT personnel to incorporate real-world case study scenarios. In addition to injecting these new authentic experiences, TargetSolutions overhauled the course’s design elements, making it one of the most engaging EMT continuing education courses in the company’s online EMS training library.
“Keeping our catalog current is a daily challenge,” said TargetSolutions’ Content Architect Jeremy Lynch. “Standards and protocols are basically living, breathing things. They are evolving, changing, and updating constantly. We owe it to our clients to keep up so they are better equipped with the information they need to save lives.”
The revamped course discusses how environmental emergencies include exposure to heat and cold. Regulation of body temperature, which is an important physiological function, can be impaired under temperature extremes and result in heat- or cold-related illness. The key to effective management is recognizing the signs and symptoms, and providing prompt emergency medical care.
The accredited online EMS training course, which counts for one hour of EMT refresher training in most states for First Responders, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic (check your state for more information), also features new pictures and an increased amount of user-required interactions.

Planning Next Year’s Training Program? Now Is the Time to Analyze the Year’s Employee Training Records and Make Plans for 2014

With the calendar winding down, you might be ramping up your department’s end-of-year firefighter training reports. With TargetSolutions’ online fire training system’s Generate Reports tool, platform managers are able to easily gather various types of data, including completions, incomplete assignments, credentials, and much more.

“Assessing yearly training activity is critical for every department,” said Client Services Manager Jennifer Antinone. “These reports provide insight into what types of training were completed and any areas that may need improvement. Discoveries made when analyzing the results often play a role in building the following year’s training curriculum.”

With TargetSolutions’ powerful fire department software, capturing specific information takes just a few simple clicks. Here are some of the most popular employee training records that are collected with TargetSolutions’ powerful records and information management system:

Aggregate Completions: This report gives platform managers the total number of training hours that were completed by the department’s personnel.

Credential Summary: Popular with the ISO tracking solution, among other credentials, this report delivers a snapshot of users’ overall training compliance with assigned credentials.

Aggregate Components: This report breaks down the number of courses users have completed within each component (e.g., airway, forcible entry, ladders, etc.)

Completions: Every online training course completed by a department’s personnel can be found here. This report also displays the test score that each user received after completing the course.

The days of spending hours manually tracking down information to run reports are history with TargetSolutions’ online fire training system. In a few short minutes detailed reports can be built that will determine how many training hours your department compiled this year, which standards were met, and how many members became certified (or recertified) for particular credentials. Once the report begins automation, your part is finished as the computer-based training system will generate the comprehensive report.

“This year we focused on optimizing our reports and making sure they run in a timely manner,” said Software Engineer Manager Dustyn Borghi. “With all the information TargetSolutions contains for our users, we want to make sure the power is in their hands to retrieve that information when and how they want it.

“Being able to track and maintain training records, certifications, personal information, etc., is great. We take pride in the amount of things that can be done through our platform. But having the ability to abstract that information within a report is truly what brings great value to our clients.”

With TargetSolutions’ Generate Reports application, platform managers can run detailed spreadsheets on their personnel’s completed assignments, incomplete assignments, credentials, and much more.

About TargetSolutions

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

Major Metro Department Signed Up for Online EMS Recertification Training, Now Uses Powerful Tracking Tools

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department looks to TargetSolutions to help track personnel’s ISO training hours.

Like most clients, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department originally signed up with TargetSolutions for online EMS recertification training. The only difference is Jacksonville was quicker to the game. The forward-thinking department began using TargetSolutions’ innovative online fire training technology in 2003 because it saw an easier, more efficient way for achieving compliance.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue DepartmentAs one of the longest-tenured clients, Jacksonville has watched TargetSolutions’ online fire training course catalog swell to more than 160 hours of continuing education for online EMS recertification training and paramedic training. That valuable training is a huge benefit for any metro department looking to ensure personnel meet mandated training requirements.

Equally valuable, however, are TargetSolutions’ recordkeeping applications for fire department training – which Jacksonville wasn’t fully capitalizing on until more recently. According to Battalion Chief Billy Roland, it took an ISO inspection in 2011 for the department to realize the power of TargetSolutions.

“We got dinged good on our field training records by ISO,” Roland said. “We were doing the training every day, but the tracking wasn’t perfect. Some of it was being tracked (outside of TargetSolutions) with paper (with the city’s legacy system). We weren’t using one source for tracking training. But ISO liked the part of training that was documented with TargetSolutions. Now that we’ve implemented TargetSolutions’ ISO tracking, when ISO returns foor another review, we shouldn’t have any issues with the required documentation.”

With its fire department ISO training records now in order, JFRD and Roland can rest confidently knowing the department’s rating will be improving. Beyond that, the department is using the web-based online fire training system to its fullest capabilities, Roland said. Anything that needs to be reported is managed through TargetSolutions.

“Everything we do related to training is documented and saved in TargetSolutions. We also use it for delivering bulletins, SOPs, announcements, etc. TargetSolutions has become the official place to find everything. It has improved our ability to reach all of our firefighters. Things that are mandated to be read can be delivered and people can be held accountable.”
Billy Roland, Battalion Chief, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department

For a department as large as Jacksonville (1,200 emergency responders), the ability to easily deliver information to personnel is critical. TargetSolutions gives Jacksonville an agile tool for disseminating training and communicating important fire department SOGs. The fact it is readily available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week makes it even more valuable, Roland said.

“TargetSolutions is available on a smartphone, an iPad, a laptop. Everyone can access it with ease. It’s a web-based solution that is secure with a username and password, everyone can get to it online.”

Billy Roland, Battalion Chief

The ease of use doesn’t stop there. TargetSolutions simplifies the entire employee training records reporting process for departments in the state of Florida. TargetSolutions’ electronic system reports EMS recertification completions on a daily basis to CE Broker and Fire recertification completions quarterly to the Florida State Fire College. This automated technology makes things less complicated for departments in the Sunshine State.

“That is a huge factor for us,” Roland said. “TargetSolutions makes it so we don’t have to go and report. It’s all done automatically. That is one of the best things TargetSolutions does – it simplifies reporting.”

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

The False Confidence to Command

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO
Retired Fire Chief and Web Master for Situational Awareness Matters
Would it be possible for something to go wrong at a structure fire incident and one of the contributing factors identified be the incident commander was under-qualified? With the emphasis in recent years on incident command, including the requirement for department members to be trained in the National Incident Management System, it would be all of our hopes that all departments have developed qualified, competent and confident commanders.
In many departments, it is the standard – if not a policy – for the officer on the first-in apparatus to establish command. As such, most will. But regulating who is in command by policy or riding position on the apparatus does nothing to assure the officer is properly trained, adequately practiced and amply experienced to command. Thus, the confidence of the first-in officer may be a false confidence. This can be very dangerous.
About a year ago I was teaching a class on firefighter safety for a volunteer department and I asked the class if possible for the first-in apparatus to have four firefighters, all of whom have less than three years’ experience and none of them are officers. After a resounding response in the affirmative, I called on a young firefighter who had three years of experience and was not an officer. I asked how confident he would be if he had to serve as the initial incident commander on the first-in engine, at a working structure fire, with a crew of four, all with less than three years of experience. He said he’d be very confident commanding the incident.
This intrigued me. So I asked him if he had command training. He informed me that he had taken an online incident command class. OK. Then I asked him if he’d ever commanded a structure fire. No, he had not. Then I asked him if he had ever commanded a training fire before. No, he had not. Then I asked him how many actual structure fires he’d been on the attack line for. He estimated it to be five. Five this year? I asked with hopeful anticipation. No, five fires over his three years of service on the department.
So, here’s a firefighter who’s been on the department for three years, has taken an online incident command class, never commanded a structure fire, never commanded a training fire, had only been on the attack line for fives fires, and now commanding a crew all of whom have less than three years’ experience. And this firefighter stated he was very comfortable in his ability to serve as the incident commander. I was astounded. Where does this confidence (and I might go as far as to say arrogance) come from? I told him, and the class, if I were in command of a crew on a fire attack who all had three or less years of experience that I’d be scared to death for their safety.
This firefighter is suffering from unconscious incompetence. In other words, he doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know about commanding fires, let alone commanding such an inexperienced crew. Unless he’s acquired a competent command skillset by a means other than practice and experience, he’s dangerously over confident.
I thought perhaps this was an anomaly – a fluke occurrence of a young, overconfident firefighter. I was wrong. I have since taught this same class more than a dozen times. Each time, I’ve sought out that young firefighter to ask the same question. And every time, without exception, the response has been the same. Under experienced, under practiced, and over confident.
So here’ the challenge I want to put out to the command officers reading this article: Go back and pose the same question to the younger firefighters on your department you know lack the practice and experience to command. See what the response is. If they say they’re confident commanding (when you know they’re not ready), educate them on what it means to be ready and work with them to ensure they acquire the practice and experience (under the direction of a competent mentor).
Confidence in a commander is a good quality to have. Being over confident and having a false confidence is not only a poor quality to have, it can be deadly.
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 more than 30 years 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 more than a million visits since its launch in October 2011.

Chesterfield Fire & EMS Solves Its Training Challenges with TargetSolutions

The Chesterfield Fire and EMS Department, located in Virginia, is a combo department comprised of 487 career staff (including 207 ALS Providers) and 300 volunteer personnel, all of whom are, at a minimum, certified as EMT-Basics. Serving an area of 426-square miles, and a population of more than 323,000 citizens, the agency provides fire and EMS services, as well as Technical Rescue, HazMat and a paramedic staff for the Virginia State Police’s medevac helicopter program.

Faced with a growing demand for service, and a growing organization, Chesterfield began to see difficulties with finding both the time and means to provide education to its varied personnel base and track a wide variety of certifications – critical to maintaining fire department ISO compliance. Brick-and-mortar training, long the standard in public safety, required vehicles and crews to be taken out of service, which simply became unacceptable as the area’s population grew 21 percent over a 10-year period ending in 2010.

To meet the department’s needs, Battalion Chief Chris Basdikis was tasked to examine fire department training solutions on the market to find one that had the muscle and reliability to handle Chesterfield’s broadly diverse set of needs and personnel specialties. Several online fire training platforms were piloted and put through their paces before TargetSolutions was selected.

“It was the product suite which best suited our organization’s needs to have both a Records Management System and a Learning Management System,” says Basdikis, allowing seamless integration between the delivery of online firefighter training and the tracking and accountability of that delivery.

Additionally, the online fire training system offered the flexibility to allow Chesterfield to custom-build modules with relative ease, important for several reasons: first, it allowed the agency to build in tracking of employee training records for state and federal requirements, such as OSHA requirements. Second, since the agency recovers revenue through billing for EMS service, it provided the capability to prove conclusively that providers were up-to-date with certifications – especially difficult with volunteer personnel who may only do a few shifts each month. Finally, the system was configured to send out reminders on an automated basis to personnel whose certifications are expiring in the near future.

TargetSolutions was implemented over a three-year period with some funding from Federal grants. This allowed Chesterfield to build the infrastructure of the system out gradually, and roll out different features in stages, beginning with ALS continuing education and tracking of contact hours (including sessions attended). The department was then able to monitor all aspects of its program when it came to education and certification, along with additional functionality, including a communications hub to deliver important information such as medical protocol updates. As might have been expected in any public safety agency, there was some initial resistance from personnel. Thanks to a short learning curve, and a user-friendly interface, Chief Basdikis says that was quickly put aside, and the system is now globally well-received and utilized.

For the agency, the changes in efficiency have been nothing short of remarkable. The system allows the department to pre-load didactic education materials before personnel arrive at one of the agency’s dedicated training centers, maximizing the actual contact time personnel have in terms of educational hours as personnel are able to download materials ahead of time.

In addition, the fire department ISO reviewing process has become easier, especially in terms of tracking target hazards within the community and ensuring personnel are addressing appropriate training. The online fire training system has allowed Chesterfield to consistently deliver high quality training to personnel of all ranks and specialties. With so many different hats worn, from the volunteer rescue squad member, to the Hazmat response team member, to the flight paramedic in the air, this was previously a daunting process.

By effectively tracking training, Chesterfield is now in a responsible position and is leading efforts to ensure personnel are prepared for when the unthinkable happens to a citizen and they pick up the phone to call for help.

About Targetsolutions
TargetSolutions delivers 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 its technology to solve their training needs.

Use an RMS Code to Upload Completions Data Into Third-Party Software with TargetSolutions

TargetSolutions has taken steps to improve its integration capabilities with third-party records management systems. TargetSolutions’ new RMS Code is an API solution that enables departments to upload completion data into other systems. This is done by adding a custom field into the Activities Builder and Course Library applications to capture a secondary course identification number.
This update eliminates TargetSolutions’ previous API’s need to create a “look-up table” that corresponded between assignments and the third-party RMS software. In the past, this aspect presented a challenge to departments because activities can be created at any time, meaning course IDs needed to be continuously added to the client-maintained “look-up table.”
The new field eliminates the challenge of performing manual maintenance on an otherwise automatic process. Departments looking to export completion data into a pre-existing system structure will no longer need to change how they name, organize and utilize activities inside the platform. This reduces the amount of programming needed on the client’s end, saving time and money.
“Our platform is receptive to integration,” said Alex Day, Vice President of Operations. “We pride ourselves on building solutions that are flexible. Our system is extremely user friendly and features powerful tools created to meet the fire industry’s needs.”
In order to start associating an RMS Code to upload completions of a course or activity, platform managers need to contact TargetSolutions to add the code’s entry field into the Course Library or Activities Builder applications.
If you’d like more information on TargetSolutions’ RMS Code solution, please contact us today at (800) 840-8048.
Clients of TargetSolutions are able to enter RMS Code to integrate training data with third-party software.
Clients of TargetSolutions are able to enter RMS Code to integrate training data with third-party software.