Kevin Wesley serves as a training captain for Alachua County Fire Rescue in Gainesville, Fla. With a department consisting of approximately 230 members, the training division of ACFR is tasked with managing training for a department that answers around 37,000 calls each year over 960 square miles of terrain. It’s a daunting challenge, but one that must be met with effectiveness, which is exactly what has transpired with the arrival of TargetSolutions, the industry’s leading online fire department training and records management system.
After some early struggles convincing management about the need for TargetSolutions, the department finally decided it was time to invest in the online fire training technology in April of 2012. At a time when the department was cutting back – Alachua County Fire Rescue has made considerable efforts to reduce its expenses by eliminating 20.5 administrative positions over a two-year period (2009- ’11) – Wesley has been able to ramp up the training program. The department’s decision looks brilliant now because it is able to do more with less – at a time when doing more with less is increasingly more critical.
Wesley can rattle off numerous benefits, but one of the most positive is the ability to “flip the classroom,” which is to deliver customized pre-training online before conducting didactic training. This new trend in the fire service helps departments focus on company drills and multi-company drills by giving personnel a head start before a live event takes place. For example, by sending out an electronic overview of ropes and knots, Wesley is able to save time when crews arrive at the training facility for the hands-on portion, he said.
“This was an advantage to TargetSolutions that we were hoping to take advantage of,” Wesley said. “I’d heard about that idea and was looking for a way to deliver pre-training. TargetSolutions has made it easier than I had anticipated.”
Prior to TargetSolutions, Alachua County was using an antiquated database for tracking employee training records. The system was “cumbersome, clunky and unreliable,” Wesley said. Retrieving data was difficult and time consuming. Simply put, the department needed a faster, more advanced tool to streamline training. That’s where TargetSolutions was able to help with tools for scheduling out, delivering and tracking training, including more than 250 hours of accredited Fire and EMS recertification courses.
“No matter what kind of training we do, there is now 100 percent accountability to record it, so if our crews do it, we can track it and document it with a reliable system now. That’s probably the biggest thing. It’s really allowed us to plan out our training year with confidence. Credential management has been huge. Before, we would have to look at an Excel spreadsheet to see when someone’s credential was expiring. With TargetSolutions’ credential alerts, we now get notification e-mails 90 days, 60 days, 30 days ahead of time. There is no more saying, ‘I didn’t know.’ There is no excuse for it.”
Kevin Wesley, Training Captain
The platform also paid dividends for Alachua County during its fire department ISO review, which the training portion was completed in less than 30 minutes because of TargetSolutions’ clean, concise reporting capabilities, Wesley said. Previously, the process would have required more than 600 pages of documentation and tons of patience.
“I was able to show all the records of our training to ISO,” Wesley said. “Almost everyone was near 100 percent in meeting their training requirements.”
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.