Technology with a Purpose

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Any Advice on How to Improve the Platform? TargetSolutions Is All Ears

Over the past six months, clients have been using the new enhancement request form to suggest improvements to our platform. Using a written approach to gather these great ideas has made it easier to prioritize our development pipeline.

A recent success involved a request to allow an e-mail notification to be sent when a course is assigned. By July, this particular request jumped to the front of the line based on the feedback we were receiving. We built and released this feature in August!

We have also completed a number of submitted usability tweaks, including the ability for an activity to be recorded as complete by administrators only (Lt. Bobby Pitman at Polk County Fire Rescue), expanding the character limit on the Bulletin Board (Capt. Chris Zervas at Washington D.C. Fire Department), and many more.

Our goal has always been to constantly think of how improve our platform. And there is no advice better than that of the clients using it every day.

We want to hear from you! Contact us at (800) 840-8048.

TargetSolutions Helps Clients Achieve Better Compliance with Upgraded E-mail Alert Functionality

TargetSolutions realizes just how critical total compliance is to its clients operations. That’s why we’ve taken great steps to make sure no assignments ever go unnoticed. To ensure users are always made aware of new courses and activities, TargetSolutions has made significant improvements to its already robust notification capabilities.

Site administrators now have the ability to notify users of new items directly from the Create New Assignment application. Now, when administrators are creating a new assignment for their members – after selecting the assignment or activity and the users who will receive it – they have two options inside an E-mail Settings box: E-mail users when the assignments are available, as well as E-mail users when the assignments are overdue.

This way, administrators will be able to send an e-mail alert. Previously, administrators relied on the Notification System inside the platform or monthly user summary reports to inform users about their new assignments.

“We wanted to make the new feature as easy to use as possible and I think we’ve done that,” said TargetSolutions’ VP of Operations Alex Day. We find that our users log in to the platform at different rates, but most people check their e-mail regularly. Having these e-mail alerts go directly to users made sense for departments. Now they will be able to know right away when they have new training that needs to be done and it will help improve compliance.

Site administrators will also no longer receive duplicated e-mail notification alerts on the same credential for different users. When multiple users need to take action on the same credential they will now be combined into one e-mail to administrators.

Also, TargetSolutions has discontinued the monthly summary report for users. They will now receive periodic inactivity reminders in addition to new assignment notification e-mails. Both of these reminder e-mails are in text-only format, rather than the HTML-based monthly summary reports, helping ensure that e-mails will not be intercepted by filters that block unfamiliar addresses.

“These new e-mail alerts put more control in the hands of administrators,” said TargetSolutions’ Product Manager Misty Pratt. “Notification e-mails can be sent right when an assignment is created, which gives more visibility to assignments than the previous monthly summary e-mails. This was something that was heavily requested and it feels really good to deliver for our clients.”

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

Welcome to TargetSolutions’ New Company Blog

This is the first post of many on our new Company Blog!ts-250-72dpi

TargetSolutions will be actively updating this blog with important information about the platform, including course information, system updates and enhancements, and utilization tricks that will help clients make the most out of the industry’s No. 1 online training and records management system.

Find us on Facebook or Twitter to make sure you never miss a blog post with the latest scoop on TargetSolutions. And if you ever have any questions about the platform and you want to contact us directly, please shoot an e-mail to support@targetsolutions.com or call us at (800) 840-8048.

Out with the Old In with the New

TargetSolutions’ revamped and upgraded system has now been available to clients for the past 12 months. The new system is more engaging, user friendly and contains many new features like the ability to notify a user the minute a new assignment has been assigned, a real-time progress dashboard and more robust reporting features.

Our team of Account Managers has actively helped clients move to the new system over the past year. If you have not had a chance to take advantage of this help, now is the time.

Starting Oct. 1, you will see notification messages letting you know about our plans to automatically move clients to the new platform in December.

We are confident in the upgrades to the system and know you will enjoy the benefits of our new system.

Our Client Services Team is always ready to answer your questions, give us a call at (800) 840-8048.

Changing Attitudes: The Time is Now

By Doug Cline
Horry County Fire Recue (S.C.)

I recently attended a conference for fire chiefs where the hot topic centered on firefighter injuries and deaths resulting from motor vehicle crashes. The use of seat belts or lack of was a big part of the conversation. The topic was discussed at length. Everyone is searching for answers on how to get firefighters to comply. Ideas like decreasing state-death benefits and funding from county governments for departments with violations were tossed around as potential suggestions to help make groups comply. One rather salty chief blurted out, it’s all about attitude and many folks have a (darn) bad one!

That was an interesting and accurate comment. The attitude has to be there to make this cultural change. It has to start with the fire chief, the fired-up fire chief concluded. I was so thrilled to hear his comments I could’ve done back flips!

Unfortunately the next comment by another chief in attendance showed there is still an underlying issue: How do we change the attitudes of individuals who don’t see this as a problem?

There are many attitudes about hundreds of topics in the fire service. But why are there still attitudes when it comes to the safety of fire personnel?

Unlike other public safety professionals, the fire and rescue service is charged with the responsibility of protecting people and property from the ravages of fire and other hostile forces both man-made and natural. We are focused on protecting our communities, but we fail to protect ourselves by neglecting to wear our seatbelts. What sense does that make?

Folks, this is all about attitude. When a firefighter is seriously injured or killed, the fire service does little to promote positive action to prevent a reoccurrence. The message spreads quickly of a fallen comrade, but the lesson is slow to follow and is seldom learned.

How can we change attitudes?

One area this is especially critical is in line-of-duty-deaths that occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents. It has been shown repeatedly that a need for speed is not necessary in most cases. Now, I’m not advocating slowing our responses but the difference between 55 and 65 mph is relatively minor but very dangerous when you consider the fact were handling a 48.5-foot long ladder truck that weighs more than 73,000 pounds or a large apparatus weighing around 45,000 pounds.

The laws of physics show a drastic difference in the stopping distances, not to mention the external forces that affect the apparatus. I have news for everybody in the fire service: We are not immune from the dangers associated with motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, our attitudes suggest we think otherwise.

Time is long overdue for the fire and rescue services to actively and seriously address this key safety issue. Too often we tend to take a cosmetic approach rather than getting to the root of the problem. The fire and rescue services, at all levels, need to rise up and meet this challenge.

This means doing what is necessary to turn around the seemingly apathetic or complacent attitude about safety prevailing in the fire service today. You may be thinking that the fire service is safer today than it’s ever been. That may be true. We definitely have better equipment today and our apparatus and gear are safer. But make no mistake, the most important part of our own safety is the one thing we control most our attitude.

Over the past two years, the firefighter safety stand down has taken the fire service by storm with progressive departments. However, there are departments across our nation that never heard of this program even with all of the efforts this past year by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Every attitude in the fire service needs to be focused on the concept of having the courage to be safe.

I challenge you as fire service leaders to help make this necessary change. How do we do this, you ask? Start by being safety minded in everything you do. Take the 16 Life Safety Initiatives that were developed by the Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Look at your own department to see how you are measuring up. If you are falling short, focus on making cultural changes in how you operate on a daily basis. Take aggressive actions to identify and correct actions that are unsafe. Make everyday a training day so everyone goes home safe!

>> This blog was originally posted with TargetSolutions in December of 2010

About the Author
Douglas Cline is a 32-year veteran of the Fire Service. He serves as assistant chief with Horry County Fire Recue (S.C.). Cline is a North Carolina Level II Fire Instructor, National Fire Academy Instructor and an EMT-Paramedic instructor for the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. Cline is the President of the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs (SEAFC), a member of the North Carolina Society of Fire and Rescue Instructors and the 1st Vice President International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI).

 

Serving Fire Service Heroes Is Special Privilege for TargetSolutions’ Employees

During the early days of TargetSolutions’ existence, skeptics questioned whether web-based learning would be an effective tool for fire training. That was back in the late 90s when the company was first founded and the Internet was just taking off. Now, more than 700 fire departments log into the system each year.

So, what has been the driving force behind TargetSolutions’ success? For the people inside the company’s San Diego headquarters, it’s simple: A commitment to helping the heroes who serve us all.

“We exist for the public safety officials who are serving our communities,” said TargetSolutions’ CEO Jon D. Handy. “It’s important to me that people understand that we’re a company on a mission to provide technology with a purpose.”

TargetSolutions’ employees are dedicated to providing fire departments with innovative applications that help streamline training management. In fact, some employees have a personal connection to the fire service. Vice President of Operations Alex Day, who has been with the company since November of 2006, is closely tied to the industry.

Working at TargetSolutions has allowed Day to return to his roots as his father was a division chief with the Vista Fire Department (Calif.).

“I’ve been in-tune with the industry since I was a child, Day said. I remember being a kid and climbing on fire engines and going on ride-alongs. For me, to be able to serve this industry, it’s special. I feel at home.”

Annmarie Grimm, the company’s executive assistant, has been married to Escondido Fire Departments (Calif.) John Grimm for 15 years. Earlier this month, John, an engineer, was deployed to Northern California to combat wildfires for several weeks. Although time together was sacrificed, Annmarie recognizes the value her husband provides to the community.

“The way I look at it, he doesn’t belong to me,” Annmarie said. “He belongs to everybody. I just get to borrow him and I’m grateful for every moment we spend together.”

TargetSolutions’ commitment to the fire service helped make Annmarie’s decision to join the company easy.

“It was serendipitous,” she said. “I walked in not knowing what TargetSolutions did. The fact TargetSolutions makes a difference for the fire service, I knew it was the right place for me.”

Client Services Account Manager Ashley Cole married her husband, Jeffrey Cole, an engineer with the Poway Fire Department (Calif.), in May of 2012. Ashley’s relationship with Jeffrey has given her a tremendous appreciation for the fire industry.

“He loves what he does – it’s not just a job to him,” Cole said. “I’m surrounded by the fire industry. It’s really become a huge part of my life. I know how important their job is to them and that makes me feel like my job is really important because it impacts them.”

The universal sentiment at TargetSolutions is that serving emergency responders is a privilege. Making a difference in the lives of those who make such a huge impact on our communities is special.

The company recognizes and appreciates the hard-work and bravery it takes to be a firefighter and is looking forward to continue providing innovative solutions to the men and women who serve our communities.

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients’ challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

Developing Meta-Awareness Is Vital in Maintaining Situational Awareness

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

One of the situational awareness best practices I share with first responders is the need to develop meta-awareness. Most responders, including me before I immersed myself into the study of brain science, do not understand the concept of meta-awareness, yet it’s a critical component in the development and maintenance of your personal situational awareness.

Meta-awareness means to be consciously aware of your situational awareness. You’re probably still thinking, Huh? What does THAT mean?

Simply this: When you’re operating in the environment of high-risk and high-consequence at an emergency scene with changing conditions and immense amounts of work to be done, you can, quite simply, lose track of whether or not you are maintaining your situational awareness.

Maybe stated another way, you get so busy doing stuff that you don’t think about what is required to develop and maintain situational awareness. And then, before you realize it it’s gone and that may set you on the fast track to a near-miss or a casualty incident.

So how do you develop meta-awareness? You do it by first understanding what situational awareness is. This lesson is rarely taught in first responder training programs. When it is taught instructors rarely provide a thorough explanation because they don’t understand the complexities of situational awareness. I don’t blame the instructors. Most of them, well intended as they are, were not adequately taught about the complexities of situational awareness. So they tell us to Pay attention!

Once you understand what situational awareness is, the next lesson is to understand how you develop it. Then the next lesson is to understand how you lose it. And the final lesson is to understand how you get it back if you do lose it.

Meta-awareness is rooted in the first two lessons: Understanding what situational awareness is and how you develop it. Here is the abbreviated lesson and I do mean abbreviated. It takes me a full day in the classroom to teach this so be cautious about thinking this summary will do it for you.

Situational awareness is being able to see the bad things coming in time to change the outcome. You do this by capturing clues and cues in your environment, comprehending what they mean in context and using your understanding of the current situation to make accurate predictions about future events.

Flawed situational awareness is a big deal for first responders. In fact, it’s the biggest deal! Look at near-miss and casualty reports and you will see it or something similar like miscommunication implicated over and over again. Yet, so many first responders don’t know how to fix the problem. Fixing that problem is my mission. Please let me know how I can help.

About the Author
Dr. Gasaway is widely considered 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 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 of 2011. He can be reached via e-mail at Support@RichGasaway.com or (612) 548-4424.

 

Hands On Training is Critical to Effectiveness on the Fireground

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

When learning new skills and techniques, it’s important to put our hands on the tools we are expected to use. Reading, discussing and drawing on the white board can be great learning tools. But there is much more we need to be doing.

During a recent shift, my firehouse conducted a walk-through of one of our high-rise structures. After looking at all of the nuisances and special items related to this structure, we conducted a scenario.

In theory, the strategy and tactics portion of the initial assignments high-rise incident is clear such as connecting to the standpipe and stretching a hoseline down the hall. However, after conducting this drill, several things needed to be discussed with the company officers. Some of the items found are mentioned below.

The first thing we looked at was simply putting enough of the right equipment on the right floor. This particular scenario had fire showing on the seventh floor with standpipes in each stairwell. The recon team found the fire in the center room of the seventh floor. The first item was humping the hose up to the seventh floor in a timely manner.

This feat is simple enough when drawing it up on a white board. But is your crew physically capable of completing this task? This may prove to be more taxing than anticipated. This is the same crew that must initiate fire attack.

The second item brought to our attention was the standard hose lay, which is 155 feet and 2.5 inches, was just short of the center of the structure from both stairwells. By adding an additional 50 feet to the hose, it was able to reach all the respective rooms. Adding the additional hose corrected the length problem, but the extra equipment has to be carried and deployed.

The third item was actually stretching a hoseline. We now know the length that we need, but how many people will we need and how difficult stretching a hoseline up to the stairwell above, back down and then out into the hall will be? Our standard operating procedures state that a minimum of six personnel must be assigned to this task.

Another item related to this is how the crew will actually store the extra hose in the stairwell until its deployed down the hallway. The extra hose makes it difficult to deploy with occupants evacuating. It can become a tripping hazard for occupants and firefighters.

These are just a few of the items we found that required additional discussion once we put our hands on them. When discussing similar items, we generally leave it to the notion we will just make it happen if the time comes.

Not only is this not practical, its dangerous and should not be a part of our strategy and tactics manual. This scenario happened to be held inside of a high-rise structure; however, it could have been a single-family residential structure.

This proved to be a very good refresher for some of us and a great learning tool for our new firefighters, which is the majority of our crew. Actually using the tools and practicing the skills will make us proficient and keep us safe. We train because we never know when we will run the call, just as we didn’t know that later this same night we would be the first at a high-rise fire.

As always train hard, take care and be safe.

About the Author
Brian Ward is an engineer/acting officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia. He is a past training officer, chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council. He is a State of Georgia Advocate for Everyone Goes Home and the Membership Task Force Co-Chair and Live Fire Instructor for ISFSI. Brian was recently awarded the National Seal of Excellence from the NFFF/EGH.

Loyal Client Still Thrilled with TargetSolutions for Its ISO Reporting Capabilities

The Glendale Fire Department has been a client of TargetSolutions since January of 2001. The department serves more than 225,000 residents with nine stations and more than 240 firefighters.

Glendale Fire Department Established 1912The Glendale Fire Department has been devoted to serving its community since 1912. With nine stations answering more than 40,000 calls per year — and more than 226,000 citizens spread throughout 59 square miles of territory — it takes a cohesive unit to maintain its core mission of being “Fast, Caring, Innovative, and Professional.”

Under the direction of Mark Burdick, who was Arizona’s Chief Officer of the Year for 2011, the department and its surrounding areas are in good hands. Burdick has been with the department since 1983 and has been the chief since 2002, which was about one year after the department signed on with TargetSolutions, the industry’s pioneer in online fire training and recordkeeping applications.

Burdick knows all too well how difficult it can be to maintain compliance and be prepared for audits by the ISO for fire departments. Hunting down paper trails and thumbing through records to determine if each individual has taken the requisite training and is properly certified can be a significant challenge. That is why the department has kept TargetSolutions around for more than a decade.

“In 1998, ISO came in and we did not do well at all. It was the weak point of our department,” Burdick said. “Without TargetSolutions, it is hard to keep organized. If paper documentation was missing for someone attending a class, then you would have to decide whether to just take their word for it that they were there.”

Through the use of TargetSolutions powerful, user friendly web-based platform, Glendale’s emergency responders receive the support they need to maintain compliant; turning the department’s greatest weakness into a tremendous strength. The department’s training and recordkeeping have improved and it is now rated ISO Class 2.

“Our No. 1 issue is compliance. Do we have people doing what they should be doing? Can we show that they did it?” Burdick says. “With TargetSolutions, we can pull the records in a matter of minutes. If you want a one-stop shop, and you want to reduce overtime and maintain compliance, here is your solution.”

fire department isoThe days of paper stacks and word-of-mouth recordkeeping are over. With TargetSolutions, it is easy to track exactly who did what. “We updated our Code of Conduct policy and created a PowerPoint that we uploaded into our TargetSolutions platform,” Burdick said. “When it is on our system, we have the ability to document that everyone took it. It is that validation that is so important.”

Chief Burdick is also extremely pleased with the flexibility and savings that TargetSolutions provides.

“If I (scheduled) on-duty training, then we would have to shut down trucks, and the service that we provide to the community would take a hit,” Burdick said. “If I want to bring guys in on overtime, then the cost goes through the roof. With TargetSolutions, even at 2 a.m. a firefighter can go in and take their class. There is no one who can say the costs outweigh the benefits.”

Clearly, TargetSolutions has helped Glendale flourish. The department is one of TargetSolutions very first clients after initially signing on in 2001.

“We have been using it so long now that TargetSolutions has become a part of our culture,” Burdick said.

  • Please click here to download this success story article.

About TargetSolutions
Founded in 1999, TargetSolutions is the leader in online training and records management for public entities. More than 2,000 organizations across the country use our technology to solve their training needs. We work hard every day to understand our clients challenges and deliver powerful tools that save time and money.

Technology Creates New Opportunities for Educational Growth in the Fire Service

Blog by Eddie Buchanan
Past President of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors

Technology is a vehicle to assist in the learning process and I believe there’s a change coming in regards to education and growth in the fire service. Technology is a portal to a new way of thinking about education. We use the term flipping the classroom.

What used to be homework is now pre-work. Before the class session, a student can do pre-work at home which is now the lecture, and the technology is the vehicle to get that information to them before they go to the classroom. Now, when the student physically shows up, they can focus on discussion or hands-on application of the new material. TargetSolutions is a great example. TargetSolutions provides that vehicle to be able to flip the learning environment.

Being able to do this requires a whole new set of skills for instructors. Rather than an instructor standing in front of a PowerPoint screen and lecturing and doing an instructor-centered type of delivery it’s now a student-centered delivery, which requires a different skill set.

It’s now about discussion and facilitation, and getting our students to work as peers together. As instructors, it’s about facilitating the learning. So, it’s a completely different type of environment and skill set instructors are looking at over the next 10 years.

About the Author
Chief Eddie Buchanan began his fire service career in 1982 and currently serves as the operations division chief for Hanover (Va.) Fire & EMS. Chief Buchanan is author of the “Volunteer Training Officers Handbook” from Pennwell Books and Videos and lectures throughout the country on fire service leadership and training topics. Chief Buchanan served as President of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors.