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TargetSolutions Looks to Take Fire Department Training Plan to ‘Next Level’ After Focusing on Application Enhancements

The Technology team at TargetSolutions spent 2013 optimizing its most useful applications to improve fire department training plans for clients. Manage Credentials, Record Completions and Activities Builder are some of the most utilized tools that underwent significant enhancements during the previous year.
“We focused on dialing in many of our existing applications and features in 2013,” said TargetSolutions Product Manager Misty Pratt. “We have always been committed to listening to our clients’ requests and working hard to improve the platform’s tools in ways that make our system even more valuable and user-friendly. We’re excited to take it to the next level in 2014.”
While looking back at what the team accomplished, Pratt said she was most impressed by the complex upgrades implemented to the functionality of the Manage Credentials application.
“I’m really proud of the development team for what it did with the credentials project. It was one of the most complicated projects we’ve ever undertaken,” Pratt said.  “We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from our clients, which feels especially good considering all of the enhancements made during this project were suggestions directly from clients. It took a ton of hard work and I’m immensely happy with the result.”
Below are several of the most noteworthy accomplishments from 2013:
Auto Renewal for Credentials Makes Training Management More Convenient
The name of this project – Auto Renewal for Credentials – only scratches the surface of what was completed with this project. This upgrade made it possible to automatically renew expiring credentials, but also eliminated unnecessary e-mail alerts, lessened the home page’s clutter, and added various filtering options that adjust how credentials are viewed by users.
“The Auto Renewal enhancement increases the platform’s ability to run itself after implementation,” Pratt said. “It also corrects several issues users experience with credentials and alert e-mails. While these changes are simple in concept, they represent a huge leap in the usefulness of Credentials as a whole.”
Please click here to read more.


Record Completions and Generate Reports Now Runs Faster Than Ever After Platform Upgrades

An ongoing project for TargetSolutions’ Technology team is to improve the performance of the Record Completions application. The team has always looked for ways to optimize this tool, ensuring the platform runs employee training records as fast and smooth as possible. In the early stages of 2013, TargetSolutions made significant enhancements that helped platform managers and users experience a system with significantly faster load times.
“Improving this application is part of our effort to optimize all applications in the platform,” said Pratt. “We want to make sure the platform is using the latest technology and all the processing is happening as fast as possible.”

Save and Assign Tool Allows Platform Managers and Users to Complete Different Portions of the Same Activity
TargetSolutions’ Save and Assign feature inside the Activities Builder was released in May, giving platform managers and users the ability to partially complete different portions of the same activity. The end result is more consistent recordkeeping and improved efficiency when delivering repetitive activities like evaluations, certificates, inspections, etc.
Immediately after being released, the Save and Assign application helped the DeKalb Fire Department in Georgia. The entire department was required to attend a customer service class but employees were unable to attend at the exact same time. This new feature gave them the ability to complete information specific to their own class, like instructor and class location.
“Save and Assign helps keep training records consistent,” said DeKalb’s Chief Bill Voorhies. “By giving users the ability to fill in information related to a location, or an instructor, and then send it back complete is important to the integrity of our training records.”
Please click here to read more.


Alert Notification System Takes Huge Step Forward in 2013

With TargetSolutions’ updated Alert Notifications system, it’s now easier to keep your organization informed of approaching deadlines. Enhancements to this application included improvements to the tool’s user interface, making navigation more user-friendly, as well as the ability to easily delete alerts and recover them when necessary.
Alert Notifications inside the platform deliver alerts when assignments become urgent and need immediate attention. In the administrative notifications section, platform managers are able to view organization-wide notifications such as licenses and credential expirations. The notification drop-down box is prominently located at the very top of the site and can be viewed from any page within the platform. All users and platform managers will see the notification icon become highlighted when the delivery of a new, unread notification is created. When a user or platform manager clicks the See My Notifications option, it will direct them to their inbox with information on the upcoming deadline.

Upload Completion Data into Third-Party Software with TargetSolutions’ RMS Code Solution
TargetSolutions has taken steps to improve its integration capabilities with third-party recordkeeping software. TargetSolutions’ new RMS Code is an API solution that enables organizations 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.

Dynamic New Courses Added to TargetSolutions’ Online Training Library
In addition to dozens of course upgrades to existing titles, TargetSolutions Content team completed seven new courses in 2013, including fresh ones for clients in various industries like K-12 Education, Fire Service and Public Works.
The new addition, “School Shooting Awareness,” which highlights everything from the characteristics surrounding past school shootings to warning signs and the role mental health often plays in these horrific acts, was the first course built last year, and was followed up by two other titles for school districts: “FERPA: Protecting Student Privacy” and “Proper Use of Seclusion and Restraint.”
TargetSolutions also completed the popular “RT-130: Annual Wildland Fire Safety Refresher (Modules 1-4);” and two new NFPA titles, “NFPA 1584 Firefighter Rehabilitation (Modules 1-2)” and “NFPA 1403 Live Fire Training Evolutions.”
“These two courses were musts for TargetSolutions’ course library,” TargetSolutions’ content architect Jeremy Lynch said of the two new NFPA titles. “We offer many NFPA courses that help train firefighters. We’re happy to offer a course that helps get them back to work when they suffer injuries. And by the same token, preventing injuries during live-burn training events was our goal with the NFPA 1403 offering.”
For the public works industry, TargetSolutions created the new “CA AB 54 for Water” course, which provides a general overview of California’s Assembly Bill 54 with an emphasis on its requirements and provisions for mutual water company personnel.
For more information on TargetSolutions course catalog, please click here.

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 enhance their fire department training plan.

 

 

 

New Course Helps Water Professionals Understand California Assembly Bill 54

California has taken steps to improve the quality of its drinking water in public water systems. Assembly Bill 54 helps the state carry out that mission, particularly in areas where financial investment is needed. To accomplish this, Assembly Bill 54 contains a number of new regulations addressing mutual water companies and Local Agency Formation Commissions in California.
It is important for water personnel in California to understand the provisions in AB 54 and how the bill impacts their job responsibilities. With this in mind, TargetSolutions has released a new course to its online water catalog, “CA AB 54 for Water.”
“We have created this course to ensure clients are aware of the most recent happenings with the law,” said Strategic Risk Management Business Unit Manager Kelly Zielinski. “Improving the quality of drinking water in public water systems and understanding the updated transparency requirements will be essential for everyone involved. We are here to assist you on that path.”
The course provides a general overview of Assembly Bill 54 with an emphasis on its requirements and provisions for mutual water company personnel. If you would like to see our entire online course catalog for water and wastewater, please click here.

Polk County Fire Rescue Ensures Its Time Spent Training Is Recorded with TargetSolutions’ Fire Department Training and Recordkeeping System

Polk County Fire Rescue is one of the largest fire departments in the state of Florida. With 45 stations and more than 600 personnel members, the department responds to more than 83,000 calls each year. In order to provide the surrounding communities the most excellent service possible, the department looks to train and educate its members in the most effective way possible.

With such a large department and needing to meet critical training requirements, Polk County is unable to rely on old-fashioned methods for tracking employee training records. Deputy Chief of Safety and Training Mike Linkins is a 28-year veteran of the fire service who realized having members submit paperwork to document training was no longer the answer.

“Our people were doing their training, but not recording it,” said Linkins. “The numbers we were reporting were consistently lower than our expectations.”

In March of 2009, Polk County Fire Rescue turned to TargetSolutions’ easy-to-use online fire training system to enhance the entire process of tracking training. The results were tremendous, Linkins said. “When we saw how you could track training with TargetSolutions, we were astonished,” said Linkins. “The numbers went through the roof.”

In addition to tracking training records, TargetSolutions helped Polk County eliminate costly and less efficient classroom and lecture training without getting away from hands-on firefighter training. Instead, the department sends its personnel TargetSolutions’ online coursework, which ensures all of the background information and education culminates in a hands-on training session. Previously, Polk County spent hours reviewing didactic information before actually beginning hands-on drills. Now, when there are live drills and other hands-on training, there is no wasted time before starting.

“TargetSolutions allows us to pre-assign all of that information so that everyone is ready to go once we arrive on-site. It has helped us maximize the effectiveness of our hands-on training. It’s really been a morale booster for us.”

Mike Linkins, Deputy Chief of Safety and Training

A major component of the TargetSolutions platform is the fire department ISO solution, in which Polk County Fire Rescue was an instrumental part of creating. Now, the department is able to utilize the ready-made training template to track the training exactly the way ISO wants. Linkins expects utilization of TargetSolutions’ ISO tracking and reporting tools to help the department achieve a fantastic score in the training section of ISO’s next inspection.

“We set internal ISO goals for training and we report to our Battalion Chiefs on a monthly basis,” said Linkins. “This allows us to see who is on target and who is not. It has really helped us keep the organization on track.”

Polk County Fire Rescue’s dedication to service and innovation has resulted in tremendous utilization of TargetSolutions. Everyone in the organization, including non-emergency responding employees from civilian departments, uses the platform.

“We are a 100 percent TargetSolutions organization,” said Linkins. “If you are a member in any capacity, you get a TargetSolutions account.”

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.

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.

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 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.

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.