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The Praetorian Group and TSC Partner for Next Generation Version of the Online Training Platform

Partnership Creates the Most Powerful Learning and Records Management Solution Available for Law Enforcement

The Praetorian Group and TargetSolutions today announced an agreement to join forces, with the goal of revolutionizing online training and records management for law enforcement agencies worldwide. The partnership combines PoliceOnes industry-leading content and industry expertise with TargetSolutions unrivaled learning and records management platform.

Law enforcement today is faced with unprecedented challenges, including new threats, substantial budget cuts and increasing levels of liability. By collaborating, Praetorian and TargetSolutions will be able to offer law enforcement agencies a single solution that uses cutting-edge technology and rich online media to cost-effectively address training needs, compliance requirements, and deliver continuing education that assists all levels of law enforcement in better serving their communities.

The partnership combines TargetSolutions already robust online learning and records management platform with the PoliceOne Academy, a content-rich online learning environment that launched in January 2011 and serves more than 120 agencies and 7,000 officers across the country. The PoliceOne Academy currently offers 400 short-format training courses and a repository of 500 training videos from 120 well-respected law enforcement industry experts and is certified for continuing education credit in six states.

The combination of the two creates an enterprise-scale solution that enables departments to maintain compliance, reduce losses, deliver curriculum, and track all department-level tasks, certifications and training activities. It will also feature an enhanced training catalog, including an extensive library of one-hour, high-definition video-based training courses on dozens of contemporary topics, as well as new OSHA and workplace safety courses.

“It’s not often you identify a partnership in which each party brings such complementary strengths to the table to address a very specific market need and opportunity,” said Alex Ford, CEO of the Praetorian Group. “The collaboration immediately takes the PoliceOne Academy to the next level and brings much needed online training and records management capabilities to our nations law enforcement. At the end of the day, it will mean a much better product for law enforcement, more lives saved and safer communities.”

Over the past 12 years, the Praetorian Group has become the leading online media company for the public safety market, and now counts 850,000 first responders as members. PoliceOne.com is the most trusted online destination for law enforcement worldwide, with more than 1.2 million unique visitors per month and 350,000 registered law enforcement officers as members.

TargetSolutions is the leading online training and records management provider for public entities. It offers the industrys foremost learning management system to deliver workforce training and continuing education, as well as automated recordkeeping functions through its cloud-based service. The company has been helping clients reduce costs, increase operational efficiency, and remain compliant since 1999. TargetSolutions currently serves thousands of courses each day to thousands of municipalities and public safety agencies.

We are really excited about partnering with the Praetorian Group to create a platform that offers mission-critical solutions to law enforcement and addresses the problems they face in protecting their communities, said Thomas Woodward, Target Solutions Vice President of Operations. PoliceOne is the online leader in law enforcement, and their credibility, expertise and the depth of their content is second to none. Combined with our distance learning and recordkeeping capabilities, well be able to offer law enforcement significant cost savings and efficiency that mitigate risk and improve public safety.

The combined product will be launching in June 2012. Please visit www.PoliceOneAcademy.com for more information.

About the Praetorian Group
The Praetorian Group is the leading online media and technology company in the public safety market. Our properties are visited by more than 2.1 million public safety professionals every month and count more than 850,000 first responders as members. Praetorian owns and operates www.PoliceOne.com, www.FireRescue1.com, www.EMS1.com, www.CorrectionsOne.com and www.Homeland1.com, as well as more than 15 topical public safety websites providing resources ranging from online video to grant assistance. We are deeply committed to providing resources and cutting edge information that help first responders stay safer, become better informed, and more effectively protect their communities.

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

About the PoliceOne Academy
Launched in January 2011, the PoliceOne Academy training website was established to address the gap between law enforcement department budgets and the need to provide ongoing training to officers. To date, there are more than 120 departments, educational institutions, and private security companies spanning 35 states subscribing. The PoliceOne Academy offers 400 short-format training courses and a repository of 500 training videos featuring 120 well-respected law enforcement industry experts. It currently serves more than 7,000 officers across the country, and has been certified for continuing education credit in six states.

Read the Tea Leaves Situational Awareness at the Leadership Level

Blog by Todd LeDuc
Deputy Chief, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue (Fla.)

Numerous tragic line-of-duty deaths and close calls have taught us that firefighter safety and survival are linked to situational awareness of current and changing conditions on the fireground and the emergency operations scene. But what about situational awareness at the leadership level in the office?

As firefighters progress through the ranks and become chief officers, we sometimes lose focus on the skills and instincts we relied upon as firefighters. Chief Officers must navigate complex interactions with a wide array of stakeholders (e.g., elected officials, labor unions, employees, city or county administrators and taxpayers) who often hold competing interests. In such interactions, our situational awareness at the leadership level is even more important.

Good Advice
Chief Fire officers are responsible for communicating to their members the expectations of a culture of firefighter safety and survival. To do this, fire service officers at all ranks must know best how to reach their members. In these days of texting, Facebook, Twitter and related electronic “stuff,” that isn’t always easy.

Many departments today are going through an interesting generational turnover as Baby Boomers retire. New recruits learn and adapt in vastly different mediums than their mentors. As a chief officer, you can’t just issue hierarchical policy directives and establish written policy, sit back and assume everything’s good because odds are, it ain’t!

You have a responsibility to protect your members, and that includes actually making an effort to embrace them and their culture. That requires you to exercise your situational awareness skills and monitor your environment — what we like to call “reading the tea leaves” — to ensure the message is heard. Unfortunately, in what has been described as the “ostrich syndrome” or “ivory tower leadership,” leaders often surround themselves with people who isolate them from reality, telling them what they want to hear: Yes, boss, everyone is following your directive without exception to come to a full and complete stop at intersections and wear seatbelts.” When you hear that, pay attention!

Successful chief officers, on the other hand, monitor their environment by surrounding themselves with proven, trustworthy advisors who are secure enough to give open, candid and often differing guidance, as uncomfortable as that can be sometimes. It’s been written that a wise man seeks wise counsel, when more so honest and candid counsel! Successful chief officers also genuinely solicit input. And it’s important that if you ask for it, you’re able to “take it.”

How do you identify the people who will give you straightforward advice? It often falls back on gut feeling and history. After all, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Another method is to choose members within your ranks who represent certain stake-holder groups and are looked upon as informal leaders. These people usually become infectious, gung-ho champions of change if they understand the change if they understand the change and buy into it, which will make your job a lot easier.

The informal leaders may also carry the message to your rank and file, making the culture of firefighter safety and survival come from within rather than top down. Look, the goal is for no one to get hurt unnecessarily. Although the job is risky and sometimes we have no choice but to take a risk in which we may ultimately get hurt — in those rare situations where we must put our lives on the line or our troops in harm’s way to potentially save a life — we can take steps to eliminate unnecessary risks.

An Eye on the Dashboard
In addition to monitoring systems that provide information about you as a leader, you must also establish systems to monitor the progress of your department, the office-based equivalent of monitoring fireground progress. Typically, this includes community risk analysis and system performance analysis — whether your system and its members provide timely and adequate resources to achieve department objectives safely and efficiently.

Department monitoring can often be accomplished by a master or strategic planning process that analyzes genuine, objective and measurable performance relevant to current and future system demands and community risk and workload. If your department hasn’t done this, it’s well worth your time to start such a process for the good of your members and your community. It’s also unacceptable for needless tragedy to strike because your department isn’t planning ahead and isn’t monitoring the department’s and the community’s “instrument panel” when it comes to risk. In other words, reading the tea leaves can be a tool in predicting the predictable.

A Challenge
Fire service leaders at the chief or company officer level must be tea leaf readers who monitor their environment regularly for signs of danger, best practices and innovation to provide their members better tools and resources. As such, they must have multiple information monitoring and gathering systems in place to effectively listen to and learn from information around them. Do you scour LODD reports, remain vigilant of industry safety and performance improvement trends and follow trends outside the fire service that may be adapted to improve your members’ safety? If the answer is no, or “I have other people in my department do that,” we challenge you to rethink what being an effective fire officer means and what it takes to live up to that tremendous responsibility. Don’t count on someone else to read the close-call articles or near-miss reports, you must do it too. After all, as an officer or a chief, the buck stops with you when something goes wrong. And it will be a real tragedy if the incident was clearly predictable and therefore, preventable.

Reading the tea leaves means predicting what may go wrong. The easy path is to sit back in your chair, ignore the obvious and hope nothing goes wrong. And honestly in most cases, nothing does. That’s the easy way to handle it, chief. However, the right way to handle firefighter survival-related issues is to look into your department, determine the issues — fitness, apparatus driving, supervision, size-up, staging — that typically have been the most common contributors to firefighter injury and death, and do something about it. If you don’t have systems in place to minimize the risk, the tea leaves have spoken! Develop new policies to address the gaps, conduct hands-on or classroom training to ensure understanding at all ranks, and then enforce the policies, fairly, across the board, without exception.

Remember: The same ability you developed as a firefighter to monitor your environment, seek out necessary information and make critical decisions is just as important in your job as a chief officer. In fact, as chief, it’s even more important, because you’re not just protecting your own safety; you’re protecting the safety of all your members.

About the Author
Todd J. LeDuc is the deputy chief of department for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue in Florida. With more than 25 years in the service, he lecturers and publishes frequently on fire service leadership, safety and wellness topics. He has worked extensively with fire departments in more than a dozen states with master and strategic plans, accreditation, department evaluations and consolidation studies. William Goldfeder contributed to this report.

Cal Fire San Diego Relies on TargetSolutions’ Powerful Tracking Capabilities

Cal Fire San Diego uses TargetSolutions to deliver EMS continuing education courses and track ISO training hours and other critical fire department compliance records.

The need to accurately track activities and produce comprehensive training reports on compliance is important for any fire organization. But when you’re a large-sized metro, it’s downright critical.

Good thing TargetSolutions is here to help. Just ask Cal Fire San Diego.

After signing up with TargetSolutions three years ago, the organization has experienced far greater efficiency tracking firefighter training than in previous years when the department relied on old fashioned methods like pen, paper and spreadsheets.

“Before TargetSolutions, we had no checks and balances; we had no alerts,” said Cal Fire San Diego Fire Captain Dan Collins. “With 347 employees, no one training officer has the ability to check EMT certifications, for example. There is just no better system for that without a tool like TargetSolutions.”

“You just have to trust that every employee keeps their own certifications. You have no way of knowing if a problem comes up unless an employee comes and tells you. No question, tracking certifications was our toughest challenge before TargetSolutions.”

But with TargetSolutions’ powerful records management system, Cal Fire San Diego has met those challenges head on. TargetSolutions has enabled the unit to record accurate data on employees’ credentials — whether its Fire or EMS related — and generate comprehensive reports that help the organization stay on top of compliance.

“With TargetSolutions we know who is expiring and we can plan more efficiently. We now know who is coming up and when their expiration dates are. The reporting functionality really helps us do our jobs better.”

Dan Collins, Fire Captain

TargetSolutions has also provided Cal Fire San Diego with valuable EMS continuing education courses, streamlined ISO tracking and the ability to ensure receipt of critical communications with e-signatures through the Activities Builder.

Cal Fire San Diego Training Captain Tony Hernandez agrees the platform has helped maximize his organizations training efforts and its bottom line.

“It’s a very good option for departments out there looking for a good way to track all of their employee certifications and credentialing,” Hernandez said of TargetSolutions.

“I would recommend it to any department. We feel this is an effective use of our budget. To be able to use this solution to capture our employees certificates and credentials, over the long haul for the amount of money we are investing in our employees, it’s turned out to be quite a positive investment for us.”

Tony Hernandez, Training Captain

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.

The Fire Department ISO Training Tracker by TargetSolutions Came to Light in the Sunshine State

TargetSolutions’ ISO Training Tracker simplifies the tracking and reporting of ISO training hours.

TargetSolutions’ fire department ISO Training Tracker is helping fire departments all across the country prepare for their next ISO audit by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). But this powerful tool originated in Florida and many of the state’s departments are benefiting.

Tim Riley of the Dunedin Fire Department and the Pinellas County Training Group was instrumental in the creation of the application that helps simplify ISO reporting.

“We’re extremely grateful to Tim and the Pinellas County Training Group for giving us great insight and helping us create a robust application,” said TargetSolutions Director of Technology Alex Day. “Our platform wouldn’t be what it is today if not for feedback from clients like Tim Riley. Our ISO Training Tracker helps departments automatically accumulate the proper documentation for their next ISO audit. It makes the entire process easier.”

Riley was like most other training chiefs who have suffered multiple headaches preparing for a fire department ISO audit. The simple fact is that if records are not collected properly, departments will not receive Class 1 status from the ISO. But TargetSolutions offers a better way.

TargetSolutions provides access to customizable ISO tracking templates created with the help of Riley. After training officers have delivered these activities to employees, they can rest confidently knowing the industry’s leading records management system will automatically track completions and generate detailed reports, eliminating the hassle of searching through endless paper stacks and spreadsheets.

“This has really streamlined the process for ISO inspections,” Riley said. “In years past, you’d have to take all your records as best you could, pull everything out and pour through everything. But with the Training Tracker you can be proactive instead of reactive. You know the answers before ISO gets there. This keeps you from being blindsided by deficiencies in training records. It is an incredible tool. It really makes people’s jobs easier.”

Guy Keirn of the Pinellas Park Fire Department experienced similar results with TargetSolutions Training Tracker during his last audit in September of 2010.

“TargetSolutions has created a records system that clearly allowed our organization to comply (with its ISO audit),” Keirn said. “The process of completing the training section of the report for ISO was seamless. We were able to extract all required information and complete a comprehensive report for the ISO inspector.”

In addition to powerful tracking tools, TargetSolutions online fire training platform recently underwent a significant facelift. The interface is now more intuitive, according to Ken Treffinger of Sarasota County Fire Department.

“After seeing the new (TargetSolutions) platform, I was immediately impressed by the layout and the look that it presented,” Treffinger said. “Actually, I believe my first word after seeing it was wow! The new platform is sleek, professional and appears very user friendly.”

About TargetSolutions
TargetSolutions online training and records management system is the most effective way to enhance your departments training program. We are focused on helping organizations reduce costs, improve operational efficiency and maintain compliance. With cutting-edge technology and more than 700 courses in our library, we make training easy.

No Shortcuts When It Comes to Hose Loading

Blog by Jason Hoevelmann
Deputy Chief with Sullivan Fire Protection District

How many times have you heard the question: “Why do we need to load the hose this way?”

Granted, it might be a mundane task, but it’s a task that can make all the difference in the world. Just like putting on turn-out gear or personal protective equipment, hose loads need to be done right every single time to ensure we are protected from the environment we are about to operate in. Just as we risk being burned or not breathing clean air if we fail to button up properly, we are at risk without a properly loaded hose bed.

It’s often said that as the first line goes, so goes the fire. But it all starts with a properly loaded hose bed. The type of hose load should be dictated by how your organization and company operates. It may be different for each separate company and it may change as needs and resources change. The main point is to train and understand “why” the load is being used.

When loading your hose beds, they should be clean and neat. Don’t put moldy and musty hose back on the bed or the hose will deteriorate. It can also cause holes and weak points in the jacket. The truth is a poorly loaded hose bed is a good indication of how that company operates. In my mind, if the hose beds are sloppy, it is likely the rest of the equipment on that rig is in the same shape.

You may hear a senior guy ask why a hose load is done a certain way and a more junior guy will answer, “That is just how we do it.” This is a problem. We need to understand why we use the loads and we must pass that knowledge down. If we don’t understand the purpose of the load, we will not deploy it correctly, and that is the real concern.

Make sure we are training and explaining the purpose for our hose loads and that it is imperative to load and deploy them correctly. An incorrectly loaded hose will result in an incorrectly deployed hose line that will increase the time it takes to put water on the fire or protect crews operating inside.

Some might say it all starts and ends with a properly loaded hose bed. They would be right.

Train hard and stay safe.

About the Author
Jason Hoevelmann is a deputy chief/fire marshall with Sullivan Fire Protection District in Missouri. Hoevelmann is also a career firefighter/paramedic with the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County. Hoevelmann’s experience spans more than 20 years and he has been an instructor for more than 15 years. He is currently a state advocate for the “Everyone Goes Home” initiative, a board member of the Fire and Life Safety Section of the IAFC and on the technical committee for professional Fire Officer Qualifications for the NFPA.

Profiling Today’s Fire Service Shiners, Whiners, and Recliners

Blog by Doug Cline
Chief of Operations with Horry County Fire Rescue (S.C.)

Some think you can just peal one firefighters name off the wall and replace it with another. Some have used the analogy that it will be the same circus but with different clowns.

This generalization couldn’t be more inaccurate. What we really have in today’s fire service are three types of folks: Shiners, Whiners and Recliners. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of these three types of individuals who make up todays fire service.

Shiners: This group is the backbone of the fire service. It keeps us moving. These individuals work tirelessly to make the fire service more professional, safer and better educated. They are focused on working to improve the safety of the community.

Shiners are self-motivated and always looking to make the system better. They are team players who truly care about the fire service. They are driven to find better ways to do their jobs.

Success is very important to a Shiner. They are never content with the status quo and are highly organized. In fact, a Shiner’s desire to keep things in order might be considered obsessive-compulsive.

Shiners don’t care, they’re about being the very best firefighter they can be, and helping others do the same.

Whiners and Recliners: They both do exactly that, Whiners whine and Recliners recline!

Whiners have a tendency to always be complaining and not working. But they like being bored; it gives them something to whine about. They dismiss new ideas and believe the status quo is good.

“It has worked for the last 20 years so why do we need to go changing?” they say.

For Recliners, success is measured by how much time they spend doing nothing. Their mindset is that the more they do, the more will be expected. Some have the mentality that all they were hired to do was run calls and fight fires.

Maybe with their feet propped up and head laid back that is all they see. Unfortunately, they never make it out of the station to see that the job demands more and the public deserves more.

Firefighters work and live in group environments. From their very first day walking into a fire station, recruits learn that the fire service functions in a team environment. Firefighters train in groups, work in groups, live in groups and eat in groups. This close interaction favors people who are trusting, cooperative, dependable and determined.

Because firefighters share so much of their lives with each other, they generally build team values, foster increased team cohesion and identify each member’s strengths and weaknesses.

However, some firefighter personality traits conflict with the team environment. In an interesting look at how firefighters work together, a study on work-injury frequency and duration found that when firefighters cooperated in groups, injury rates were lower than when firefighters didn’t interact with each other.

Firefighters who are reluctant to interact with other firefighters may in fact be reluctant to ask for help when they’re in trouble, possibly leaving them at risk of injury. So we can see that the Shiners, who are always training and learning, are our lowest risk to injuries.

The Recliners are most prone to injury since they have not trained or worked much with the other groups. Heck, it is tough getting up out of the recliner and doing something!

During my 28 years in the fire service, I’ve rarely witnessed a Shiner give up on a task. Shiners work at all cost to complete an assignment; sometimes even placing them at risk for the betterment of the task. Failure isn’t in the Shiners vocabulary. When they are faced with a failed mission, they take it personally.

On the other hand, Whiners are usually far too quick to embrace failure. They will just blame it on someone else and say they knew it would not work from the start.

The Recliners view on this is well, if we sit around long enough, someone else will do it or it will go away and we won’t have to deal with it. And they are absolutely right, a Shiner will probably come along and get it done.

Firefighters are people who will place their own lives in jeopardy in order to save a life. They enter the fire service knowing this is a high-risk occupation. But there’s no denying there are three distinct types of firefighters in our ranks. These are the types of people we need to manage and find ways to motivate. My advice for Shiners, Whiners and Recliners is: keep the Shiners motivated, give the Whiners plenty to whine about and get rid of the Recliners. They are dead weight.

About the Author
Douglas Cline, a 32-year veteran and student of the fire service, serves as assistant chief of operations with Horry County Fire Recue (S.C.). 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).

El Paso Fire Department Chooses TargetSolutions to Improve Training Efficiencies, Response Times

Like most fire departments, response times are critical for the El Paso Fire Department in Texas. The department’s standard of cover has a stated response goal of four minutes or less for all BLS calls and eight minutes or less for all ALS calls. The department is focused on beating those times on at least 90 percent of its runs, according to Strategic Planning Lieutenant Dennis Reglen. But it’s no easy task, especially when you consider the department serves a community with more than 650,000 residents spread out across 260-square miles.

Making this predetermined response time was growing exceedingly difficult, while simultaneously meeting federally mandated training provisions, Reglen said. The logistics of having units travel to the training facility for critical training activities, while also providing effective city-wide emergency response, was increasingly challenging for the department.

“The training needs to get done,” Reglen said. “But we also need to keep reliability of service in mind. We have expectations in our standard of cover, we have a goal and to meet that goal we need to keep units in their area as much as possible.”

With a clear objective in mind, El Paso Fire Department turned to TargetSolutions’ online fire training system. Now, with training provided by the industry’s leading fire department software, the department’s units are regularly positioned where they are most effective, Reglen said.

“Unit reliability was our biggest concern,” he said. “Given we have 75 units with nine, four-hour training sessions per year for each unit, it was required that we reduce our total unit availability by approximately 2,700 hours annually. TargetSolutions gives us the ability to keep our units in their response areas far more often.”

With a more convenient, flexible method for completing obligatory firefighter training requirements, the department is also benefitting from a more powerful record management system, Reglen said. The department was using a spreadsheet to track expiring certifications. But as most departments find, that was a recipe for disaster.

“We previously had no notification if an employee was about to miss a deadline,” Reglen said. “If they did, we didn’t know. Now, with TargetSolutions’ ‘Credentials Manager’ pushing everything, were much better off. That’s a huge factor for us. This system really helps us stay on track and notified rather than our old way of doing everything manually. The automated e-mail alerts help us tremendously.”

In fact, TargetSolutions’ innovative recordkeeping tools have Reglen much more confident in his department’s ability to score well during its next fire department ISO audit.

“I’m really excited about the ISO solution,” Reglen said. “ISO reports are such a big headache. It’s a lot of work getting ready for when the ISO team is going to be here. I think with this system it will be much easier. TargetSolutions’ (tracking capabilities) have cleaned up the process for us and we won’t have to depend on well-intended firemen anymore. TargetSolutions is making life easier. We’re not having to sit here and question whether our data is right or not.”

While the system has improved the department’s operational efficiencies, Reglen projects a significant improvement in its bottom line as well.

“Considering our units were traveling 645 times a year to our training facility for a total travel distance of 4,915 miles — coupled with rising gas prices, we anticipate a fuel savings of roughly $9,500 for fiscal year 2012,” Reglen said.

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

Training for Failure

Story by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway
Web master for Situational Awareness Matters (www.SAMatters.com)

Is it possible to train a firefighter to fail? You bet it is! I see it all the time. I should clarify that previous statement a little: I see it NOW all the time.

There was a time when I didn’t see it. In fact, I was one of those instructors who were training firefighters to fail. I didn’t realize I was doing it. No instructor would train a firefighter to fail on purpose. But, accidentally, it’s happening all the time and the consequences can be catastrophic.

In my Mental Management of Emergencies program I share with firefighters how easy it is to be trained to fail. Experienced officers and trainers alike have called this program a wake-up call and I could not agree more. As I was conducting my research about how the brain functions under stress I had an epiphany. We are training first responders to fail! It was a punch in the gut for me because I knew how many times I had provided flawed training to firefighters and EMS providers throughout my 30 years.

Let me share just one of many examples of how this can happen. But before I do, I have to offer you some B.S. (Brain Science). This will help in your understanding of how firefighters are being trained for failure.

B.S. Law No. 1: The stressed brain does not make decisions the same way as the non-stressed brain.
The lesson here is the non-stressed brain is a calm, rational thinking brain. It’s not under a lot of pressure so it can readily process information and figure out solutions to problems rather readily. The stressed brain; not so rational. In fact, just watching the apparent dumb things firefighters do when they are under stress would lead some people to surmise the stressed brain is irrational. The stressed brain isn’t irrational in its decision making. It is intuitive.

B.S. Law No. 2: Under stress, the brain runs automatic scripts.
The lesson here is the stressed brain compels the body to become a creature of habit. The brain will instruct the body to perform exactly how it was programmed to perform based mostly on memorization and repetition. This is true when recalling cognitive information (like people’s names and e-mail addresses). It is also the case with muscle memory (the physical movements tied to performing a task). Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.

B.S. Law No. 3: Muscle memory results from muscle movement.
The lesson here is muscles-memory is formed from actual physical movement, not from the storage of information about how to move. Talking about how to perform a demanding physical task is not the same as doing it. You can tell a firefighter all day long how to throw a ladder. But the brain does not store the memory of the actual movements until the muscles move and raise the ladder.

A Practical Application of the Brain Laws
Those are but three of dozens of lessons that are important for instructors to understand but let’s see how just those three can result in a firefighter being trained for failure.

Here’s the scenario. The instructor is going to conduct a live burn training evolution at the burn building. The crews arrive and everything is set up and the instructor conducts a pre-incident briefing of the day’s activities and objectives. Hose lines and water supplies are secured. The burn team is in place and fire in the hole! Send the first team in!

The first team advances with a 1inch line and they locate the fire and knock it down. They back out and the instructor team critiques their behavior. Each consecutive team does the same thing and this goes on for several hours and each team gets six evolutions on the line.

The instructors feel good because they know that repetition builds skills and these firefighters got some good training. The students feel good because they know they gained valuable experience and are now better prepared for structural firefighting. This is where the lessons of brain science and the fire service collide in a way that can have catastrophic consequences.

You see, the well-intended instructors, for the sake of expediency, never required each attack team to conduct a 360-degree size up around the burn building to develop their situational awareness before they engaged in the structural firefight. Why?

One of the most logical reasons is the burn building is constructed of concrete and steel. It’s NOT going to fall down on the attack team and everyone, including the instructors knows that. Everyone there has a comfort level with the stability of the structure. It’s built to be burned in for goodness sake. So, teams are not required to complete a 360-degree size up before starting each evolution.

Each team that enters the burn building advances a 1inch hose line to the fire and knocks it down. Fire isn’t large enough to require a 2inch in hose line. The smaller 1inch line is adequate and appropriate. The firefighters become very proficient with advancing their 1inch line and they are rewarded with success every time.

As firefighters practice these skills, the three laws from brain science are at work. The stress of the training causes the firefighters to think intuitively, not rationally. They are developing their automatic scripts (both cognitive and muscle memory). Under stress at a real structure fire, the firefighters are going to perform exactly how the scripts in their brains tell them to perform.

Have you ever seen or heard of an incident where a firefighting crew arrived on a fire that should have been a defensive (exterior) attack yet they went offensive (inside) the structure only to find themselves in a world of trouble quick? You could readily see they should not have gone inside. But for some reason, they didn’t see it the same way and, like fools, they rushed in. Were they being foolish? They certainly didn’t seem to be acting rational. That’s because they weren’t acting rational. They were acting intuitive. That’s Brain Law No. 1.

The firefighters arrive and go into a well-involved fire that any competent firefighter would readily say was a no-go fire (i.e., the firefighters do not go in for it would mean catastrophic consequences). Why would the firefighters enter a no-go environment and jeopardize their lives? Because that’s what they were trained to do-go! In fact, it is absolutely rare for firefighters to be trained on the physical and cognitive tasks associated with no-go. So when the firefighters arrive, they go in. They ALWAYS go in because their brains are running automatic scripts. That’s Brain Law No. 2.

The firefighters that arrive and go into the well-involved fire are yet vulnerable to another major consequence. If the fire is no-go it is probably going to be a large fire that requires large water. But the poor firefighting team does not pull a 2inch line. They pull the 1inch hose line and advance it into a fire whose potential far exceeds the capacity of their small hose line. Big fire requires big water. That’s sorational. So why would these firefighters not pull the larger line? Because muscle memory has been built up over numerous practice evolutions. The muscles know a structure fire gets attacked with a 1inch line. The muscle movement of practice over time has built muscle memory. That is Brain Law No. 3.

The Catastrophic Results
Put it all together and what do you have?

Firefighters arriving at well-involved structures, failing to complete a 360-degree size up causing flawed situational awareness. By not practicing the complete size-up they are missing the important lessons of how to assess building construction, fire and smoke conditions. The fire may be defensive but they don’t see it as a defensive fire. Because in their minds, the script reads every fire is an offensive fire.

They advance small hose lines into fires that need big hose lines because they have only practiced with small hose lines. Even if, during training, the instructor were to say now remember, if you have a big fire, you need to pull a big hose line this will not work. It is a rational statement being made to a rational mind. Of course it’s going to make sense. The students may even let out a collective “no duh!” in response as if to indicate such a simple concept did not need to be iterated.

It’s not what the instructor says that will dictate the performance. It’s what the student does that will determine it.

Recommendations
Here are some tangible recommendations for fixing these problems.

1. Build a 360-degree size up into every evolution. Don’t just have them walk around for the sake of walking around. Have them say what they are looking for as it relates to building construction, building decomposition, fire and smoke conditions.

2. Practice pulling 2inch lines in training. Even if the training fire is too small for a large line, practice pulling and using the larger line.

3. Discuss and train firefighters on what no-go conditions look like. What the building decomposition would look like. What the fire conditions would look like. What the smoke conditions would look like.

4. Train firefighters on the physical tasks to be performed when a fire is a no-go fire so they know, physically, what they should do.

Is it possible to train a firefighter to fail? You bet it is! But it is avoidable with a minor change in how we conduct our training.

About the Author
Dr. Richard B. Gasaway has served as a firefighter, EMT-paramedic, company officer, training officer and fire chief in six emergency services organizations in West Virginia, Ohio and Minnesota. In addition to his exemplary 30-year career in public safety, Dr. Gasaway has completed extensive studies on the high-stress, high-consequence environments first responders operate in and how stress impacts decision making and situational awareness. His findings have been chronicled in more than 150 books, book chapters, training videos and first responder journals. Dr. Gasaway serves as the webmaster for the Situational Awareness Matters website (www.SAMatters.com), a site dedicated to improving first responder safety.

TargetSolutions to Show Platform’s Capabilities at FDIC

This is an important week for the fire service community. One of the largest conferences of the year is now underway in Indianapolis.

FDIC, which is being held at the Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium, is running now through Saturday and TargetSolutions will be there when the exhibit hall opens Thursday. If you’d like to come by and check out TargetSolutions, the industry’s most powerful and innovative online training and records management system, please stop by booth No. 13040.

“We’re very excited to attend this conference,” said Vice President of Sales & Marketing Jon Kostyzak, “who will be handing out free swag (t-shirts) at the booth. This is one of the marquee events on our calendar. We see this event as a tremendous vehicle to discuss our platforms capabilities. FDIC is all about training and so are we.”

TargetSolutions will also be hosting a user workshop on Friday at 12:30 p.m. The special event, which is open to all current clients and prospects, will be held in the Santa Fe Room of the Indianapolis Marriot Downtown.

There will be free food and an up-close look at TargetSolutions’ cutting-edge platform that is revolutionizing the way departments approach training and recordkeeping.

“Whether you’re an existing client or just considering the platform, this will be a really beneficial event,” said Director of Client Services Jenny Cady Fergason. “We are going to spend a lot of time talking about how the platform is helping fire departments reduce costs, streamline operations and save time. We’re going to answer everyones questions, so this is really recommended for anyone considering TargetSolutions.”

“If you’d like to sign up for the event, please stop by booth No. 13040 for information or just show up to the Marriot Downtown on Friday,” Fergason said.

For more information on FDIC, please check online at http://www.fdic.com/index.html.

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

Who Says It Has to Be Difficult to Report for the ISO

If you’re like most training officers, you’ve had your share of headaches tracking and organizing training records in preparation for an audit by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). You know that if your records aren’t documented properly, you won’t receive credit from the ISO.

With TargetSolutions, everything is simplified.

TargetSolutions features powerful records management system functionality that will help your department achieve Class 1 status. The platform enables site administrators to easily and automatically accumulate the proper documentation making the entire process stress-free.

“TargetSolutions has created a records system that clearly allowed our organization to comply with our scheduled ISO audit in September of 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. We were able to extract all required information and complete a comprehensive report for the ISO inspector.”

TargetSolutions helps departments achieve greater efficiency with ISO tracking by providing access to premade, completely customizable training templates that were created specifically to report for the ISO. After training officers have delivered these activities to their employees, they can rest confidently knowing TargetSolutions’ industry-leading records management system will automatically track completions and eliminate the hassle of having to search through endless paper trails and stacks of training spreadsheets.

“ISO reports require a bunch of things, but one of the key things is training records,” said Cal Fire San Diego’s Fire Captain Dan Collins. “With the TargetSolutions system the battalion chief can easily pull out those training records. That’s a big help.”

In addition to easier tracking, final reports are comprehensive and will exceed the ISO’s expectations. Tim Riley, who is the chief of the Dunedin Fire Department in Florida, implemented TargetSolutions before his most recent fire department ISO audit and he reported back that ISO loved it.

“I absolutely endorse TargetSolutions,” Riley said. “With TargetSolutions you can easily track, assign and create a training program that is customized specifically to the needs of your own department. Tracking and standardizing firefighter training, whether for a recertification, a qualification, or ISO, has never been easier or more efficient than with our TargetSolutions system.”

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