Technology with a Purpose

Archive for September, 2015

The Challenge of Dealing with Excessive Amounts of Radio Traffic During Emergencies


Fire Responder Radio Traffic Challenges
Deciphering information is challenging for first responders during emergencies. Mistakes are often made during radio-transmitted mayday calls.

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway, CFO, EFO, Fire Chief (ret.)

When you are listening to an audible message, be that face-to-face, over the telephone, or over the radio, your brain processes audible messages into visual images.

The sound waves entering your ears are transformed into electrical impulses in the auditory control center of your brain. Then, the messages are sent on to the visual control center to be processed into visual imagery.

For example, imagine you are talking to someone on the telephone about their recent vacation. In that conversation, they vividly describe pristine blue water and beautiful white beaches. Your brain processes the audible message and sends it on to the visual processing center where you formulate images of beautiful blue waters and white, sandy beaches.

Visual Processor Overload

Problems with communications can occur when you are exposed to too much. Your brain can get overloaded. When that occurs, bad things can happen. Think of your visual processor working like the processor on your computer. When your computer processor reaches its capacity, it slows down and freezes up.

While the processor is at capacity, there is nothing you can do but wait. If you’re typing a document when the processor reaches capacity, the keyboard stops working. You can bang on it all you want, but your processor is at capacity. Anything you try to enter at that point will not process.

Let’s apply this example to your brain. Your visual processing center, like your computer, also has limitations. When those limits are reached, it stops accepting new information. Your ears and audible processing center are still working fine. But the visual center is overloaded. When that happens, you get the proverbial cognitive hourglass (or spinning psychedelic wheel). Nothing else is getting in until the current load is cleared.

When there is a lot of radio traffic, it is easy for your visual processing center to get overloaded because there is so much information coming in. Unfortunately, unlike written information, there’s no shortcut to processing audible information. If you look at a written document, you can visually scan it and get right to the heart of what you want to know. Not so with audible information. You have to listen to it all. THEN, and only then, can you determine what was important and what was not. But it still requires the full attention of your visual processor to make that determination.

Dr. Richard B. GasawayToo Much Radio Traffic

Excessive amounts of radio traffic can inhibit your ability to process information. Which information do you listen to and which do you discard? Unfortunately, your brain is not that good at deciphering and prioritizing. It’s a common misconception that a first responder will hear the critical radio traffic because the “stressed voices” of those who are in trouble will alert the listener. Seems plausible … until you evaluate how many times radio-transmitted maydays are missed the first time they are called.

About the Author

Dr. Gasaway is widely considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and the human factors that complicate first responder decision making. In addition to his 30-plus year career in the fire service, including 22 years as a fire chief, Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in brain science for the benefit of first responders. His website, Situational Awareness Matters ( welcomes 50,000 visitors a month from 156 countries. He can be reached via e-mail at

Get to Know Your Account Manager: Hannah Skaperdas

Hannah Skaperdas

Prior to arriving at TargetSolutions in 2013, Hannah Skaperdas worked as an office manager for a local construction company. Ready for a change, she pounced on the opportunity to join TargetSolutions’ Client Services team where she now serves as the account manager for the Great Lakes region.

A native of Eastern Oregon, Hannah graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., with a degree in International Relations. Transitioning from the Pacific Northwest to sunny Southern California was easy, Hannah said. She has completely assimilated herself with the way of life in America’s Finest City.

“I love San Diego so much,” she says. “There’s nowhere else I would want to be.”

Here is a Q&A from a recent conversation with Hannah:

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people I work with. They all have meaningful jobs and likewise I feel they have a really good perspective on life.

What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Camping, hiking, backpacking, anything outdoors, really. I grew up playing sports (volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis) along with snowboarding and skiing.

What’s your favorite food?
I enjoy all different kinds, but if I were to have one thing right now, it would be sushi.

What’s your favorite movie?
Right now, it’s going to be “Best in Show”! I watch it way too often and laugh every time.

What would you buy first if you won a $500 million jackpot?
I’d take care of my family and then I’d buy a new car. A really ridiculous car.

If you were alone on an island and could bring any three items, what would they be? Shelter, water, and food are provided.
I would say my husband, the game Catan, which we’re really enjoying right now, and a satellite phone so I can call somebody to get off the island.

Learn How to Perform Emergency Operations of Hybrid Vehicles with TargetSolutions

TargetSolutions’ First Responder Hybrid Vehicle Incidents course features six learning modules and a 10-question exam.

Hybrid technology has grown in popularity due to environmental concerns, government regulations, and rising maintenance costs. TargetSolutions’ First Responder Hybrid Vehicle Incidents course explores this technology, including how to identify, immobilize, and disable hybrid vehicles, and access occupants in a rescue scenario.

Hybrid technology is always evolving, which presents improvements, as well as accompanying hazards. This course helps members familiarize themselves with emerging vehicle technologies.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the advantages of hybrid technology
  • Discuss emergency operations of hybrid vehicles
  • Recognize hazards related to hybrid vehicle extrications

To learn more about this course or others in TargetSolutions’ online firefighter training library, please contact us at (800) 840-8048.

TargetSolutions to Sponsor Webcast on How Training Records, ISO and Accreditation Work Together

TargetSolutions is sponsoring a webcast brought to you by Firehouse on Oct. 12 at 10 a.m. (PDT). Please click here to register for this event.

Everyone knows how important firefighter training is for members to hone their skills and abilities. But documenting those training activities is equally important for fire departments.

After all, training records can impact a department’s ISO rating, as well as its international accreditation score, which are often used to measure the effectiveness of a department.

This Firehouse webcast, hosted by Jerry Nulliner, a retired division chief from Fishers Fire Department in Indiana and currently president of the Indiana Alliance of Hazardous Materials Responders, will illustrate how these critical records must be tracked and how they can be presented to ISO field staff or an accreditation site team to evaluate your department’s training program.

TargetSolutions Creates Advisory Board to Help Meet Needs of 21st Century Law Enforcement Agencies

Board Members Will Provide Feedback to Help TargetSolutions Optimize Its Online Training Management System for Law Enforcement

SAN DIEGO – TargetSolutions, a leading provider of online training for public safety agencies, is excited to announce the creation of a new 11-member Advisory Board for Law Enforcement. This special panel will provide insight to TargetSolutions on how to best develop online law enforcement training applications and course material.

“I am very excited about the establishment of TargetSolutions’ Law Enforcement Advisory Board and the wealth of knowledge and experience it contains,” said TargetSolutions Law Enforcement Content Instructor Stephen Ramirez. “Our Board is extremely diverse and dynamic. I believe TargetSolutions is uniquely poised to fulfill the urgent need for valid, timely, accessible, and effective law enforcement training.”

The Board’s stated mission is to use “in-depth discussions, review processes, protocols, and testing to provide feedback on proposed programs, policies and communications that will maximize TargetSolutions’ ability to meet the daily needs and issues of diverse law enforcement agencies.”

TargetSolutions held its first Board meeting in July and introduced members to the company’s online training management system. Over the past few months, the Board has been conducting a thorough evaluation of TargetSolutions’ training courses to determine where they can be improved. The Board will also advise on content topics for future course development.

TargetSolutions currently features more than 240 online law enforcement training and is accepted in numerous states, including Texas, Nevada and New York. Courses with videos, interactions, and real-life scenario lessons are delivered through an easy-to-use online training management system.

“The Advisory Board will provide a fresh perspective in criminal justice practices to help TargetSolutions deliver real-time training to 21st century law enforcement,” said Matt Garrison, a former lieutenant of the Texas Department of Public Safety, who now works as a security operations manager and is one of the Board’s 11 members.

“We feel incredibly fortunate to have such a talented group of individuals who are willing to serve on our Board and guide us in our efforts to deliver the best possible training to the law enforcement community. Their selfless contributions and shared passion for improving the industry will help us continue to innovate.”

TargetSolutions’ Content and Compliance Manager Lauren Crosby

Here are the 11 members of the Board and their current or former positions:

  • Bill Bivin, deputy with Cooke County Sheriff’s Department in Gainesville, Texas
  • John Bruce, chief with Frisco Police Department in Frisco, Texas
  • Matt Garrison, security operations manager with Bell Helicopter, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Tiffany Godfrey, deputy program manager with Armament Systems in New Hope, Minn.
  • Brian Harvey, chief of Allen Police Department in Allen, Texas
  • Kimberly Jozwiak, director of municipal court and the city marshal’s service with the City of Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Jeffery McGowen, sergeant with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department in Houston and past-president of the Texas Crime Prevention Association
  • Jimmy Perdue, public safety director with North Richland Hills Police Department, Texas
  • Margarita Quihuis, persuasive technology and behavior design consultant and researcher at Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab in California
  • Red Redden, police chief with Carrollton Police Department in Carrollton, Texas
  • Elizabeth Tabarani, with El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in El Paso, Texas

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’ technology to solve their training challenges. TargetSolutions is headquartered in San Diego, Calif. For more information, call us at 1 (800) 840-8048.


The Importance of Behavior Modeling in the Fire Service

fire service behavior modeling
This blog on behavior modeling in the fire service previews information on how to influence your crew provided in the Training Officer’s Desk Reference.

training officer's desk referenceBlog by Brian Ward
Chief of Emergency Operations with Georgia Pacific (Madison, Ga.) and Managing Editor of the Training Officer’s Desk Reference

One of the items discussed in the Training Officer’s Desk Reference is mentoring. Regardless of rank, we all have the ability to mentor. As Lt. General Hal Moore states in “We Were Soldiers,” “learn the job above you and teach your job to those below you.”

When you understand how you influence those around you, you begin to understand how important you are to the success of your crew.

One story I tell is from my time working in Gwinnett County Station 4 as a driver/engineer. These were the days of my acceptance into the Georgia Smoke Diver Program and competing in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenges.

My cohort, retired Ironman and driver/engineer Alan Hurd, would set up obstacle courses with fire department stuff, gear up, and drill as a daily routine. At first it was just me and him making up stuff to do. After time – without forcing, mandating or threatening anyone – we had 90 percent of the station, including the lieutenant, captain and probie firefighters training with us.

Two things occurred during this time: Behavior modeling and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Both of these are learning and motivational theories at work in this one example.

Behavior Modeling: We have all been affected by this in one manner or another, whether we realize it or not. The theory states we will model ourselves after the environment we are placed. So, if I see someone performing at a high-level, and I recognize it as excellence, I will model myself after that behavior.

However, if I see you sleeping on the couch on truck day, and you get away with it, I might model myself after that behavior. As a senior firefighter or officer, a gut check is for you to determine how you are being perceived.

Once the introspection is complete, you can move forward and raise the bar for the minimum expectations of your crew. If I told the guys at my station to gear up without gearing up first, it would not have been as effective, and no behavior modeling would occur. However, the others saw leadership’s actions and wanted to participate.

If there was a day I did not feel like competing, it was the other guys motivating me. So, it worked both ways. They became as important to me as I was to them.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: This theory simply states that what we perceive to be reality becomes reality. So if I perceive excellence as completing the obstacle course every day in turnout gear, then that is what I will conform to because I want to be excellent with gear acclimation, dexterity, etc.

Case in point, if a probie was assigned to our station, they would automatically conform because they knew no other way. They had never been influenced by a different behavior.

As senior firefighters, company officers, or training officers – we have the chance to define excellence and the minimum standard. When you do this several things occur: Teamwork, comradery, improved knowledge and skills. It also creates a level of motivation and buy-in, regardless of generational differences.Brian Ward

By setting this example, you are mentoring those around you and establishing the next generation of the fire service. As experience moves on every day in the fire service, we need people to take the reins and lead us into the next phase.

As always, be safe, train hard, and take care.

About the Author
Brian Ward is the chief of emergency operations for Georgia Pacific in Madison, Ga. He is also the author of Fire Engineering’s “Training Officer’s Toolbox” and the managing editor for the Training Officer’s Desk Reference. Brian serves on the ISFSI Board of Directors and is a member of the Georgia Smoke Divers. He is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Organizational Development from Columbia Southern University and is the founder of Brian can be contacted at


TargetSolutions Adds 12 Engaging Firefighter Training Courses to Online Library

TargetSolutions recently added 12 video-based courses, featuring audio narration, to its course catalog. Check out this video to learn more about the firefighter training.

TargetSolutions’ online training library recently received a boost with the addition of a dozen new training courses for firefighters.

The 12 courses – which consist of nine and one-half hours of training material – are accredited across the country, giving TargetSolutions nearly 260 hours of training for fire departments, including 160 hours of EMS recertification.

All of the courses are video-based with audio narration, adding more engaging content to TargetSolutions’ library of online firefighter training, said Director of Content Jeremy Lynch.

“We are excited about the opportunity to deliver this bundle of courses to our clients,” said Lynch. “We pride ourselves on creating outstanding training and we believe these video-based courses are going to provide great value to fire departments everywhere. These courses fill some areas where we had voids in our catalog.”

Here are brief descriptions of the 12 courses:

Assembly Occupancy Fire and Life Safety Inspection (0.5 hours): This course, which references the International Building and Fire Codes as well as the National Fire Protection Association NFPA1 Fire Code and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, discusses the inspector’s role in conducting a fire and life safety inspection.

Building Construction (1 hour): This course identifies and differentiates the five types of building construction; explains how building construction types are affected by fire; and discusses the specific hazards to firefighters in different building construction types and materials.

Fire Prevention and Public Education is one of the 12 courses added to TargetSolutions’ course catalog. The course discusses why and how to create a fire prevention public education program.

Carbon Monoxide (0.5 hours): Carbon Monoxide is one of the most common hazards firefighters face on the job. Firefighters may find harmful concentrations while responding to structure fires and other incidents. This training course has 10 learning modules with a 10-question exam.

Ethics (1 hour): This course discusses ethics, their importance to the fire service, and their importance to firefighters’ careers. It also explores how firefighters can conduct themselves with high standards as representatives of the fire service, and assists in applying strong ethics to decision making.

Fire Alarm Systems (1 hour): This course is built to assist firefighters in understanding the advantages of having alarm systems in occupancies, to describe the fundamental configuration and components of alarm systems, and to discuss general principles for responding to alarms.

Fire Prevention and Public Education (1 hour): This course identifies common fire hazards in homes and businesses; explains the differences between surveys, inspections, and home fire safety surveys and the importance of each.

High Rise Fire and Life Safety Inspection (0.5 hours): The prevention of fire and rapid evacuation of high rise building occupants is an important and necessary concern for fire inspectors. This course will discuss the inspector’s role in conducting a fire and life safety inspection at a high rise building.

How to Read a Building (0.5 hours): This course describes the various types of building construction; explains how to evaluate a building during scene size-up; and discusses how to identify various building constructions within the same structure.

Leadership and Ethics (1 hour): This course explores the role of leadership and ethics as it applies to the fire service. In this course, users will learn how to create and maintain ethical leadership at every level of their agency. This training course has 7 learning modules with a 10-question exam.

Portable Extinguishers: Types and Usage (1 hour): This course reviews the steps to take when a fire is discovered, how to use a fire extinguisher and the limits of portable fire extinguishers.

School Fire and Life Safety Inspection (1 hour): It is critical for fire inspectors to understand the common hazards found in schools, and know how to develop effective recommended corrective action reports. This training course has 14 learning modules with a 10-question exam.

Water Supply (1 hour): This course explains how to calculate minimum water supplies for fire suppression operations; identifies pressurized, non-pressurized, and natural water sources; and discusses how to access water from various sources, and deliver it to the fireground using mobile water supply apparatus.

To view TargetSolutions’ online firefighter training catalog, please click here. If you have any questions about these course titles, please contact us today at (800) 840-8048.


Get to Know Jennifer Antinone, TargetSolutions’ Client Services Manager

Born and raised in Rockland County, N.Y., TargetSolutions’ Client Services Manager Jennifer Antinone never imagined she would leave her home state for California. That changed after Jennifer met her husband, John, and she was soon on a plane destined for San Diego where she started a family and is the proud mother of son Luke, 9, and daughter Emma, 6.

“I love San Diego. The beautiful weather and warm community make it the ideal place to raise a family,” said Antinone.

A member of TargetSolutions for five years, Jennifer works with more than 25 clients nationwide and manages the Client Services team. When asked about her favorite aspect of working at TargetSolutions, Antinone credits “the people, the culture and the work-life balance. I most enjoy the people that I work with, both my internal team and my team of clients. I have worked with some of the same people consistently over the last five years and have developed some great relationships.”

Here is more about Jennifer from a recent Q-and-A:

If you were to drop everything and travel anywhere in the world right now, with no restrictions at all, where would you go?

I would love to take an island vacation with my husband for five days and do nothing but enjoy the peace and quiet.

As a New Yorker living in San Diego, do you still pay close attention to your hometown teams?

I am a huge New York sports fan and still cheer on the Rangers, Giants and Yankees. I can occasionally be found shouting words of encouragement at the television, and I am looking forward to catching a hockey game in New York later this fall.

Who is your favorite player and why?

I wouldn’t be a true New Yorker if I didn’t say Derek Jeter. He embodied everything you want from an athlete on your home team – class, skill, leadership. He carried himself well, both on and off the field and he always gave 100 percent. Jeter was a fun player to watch and he raised the bar for other players around him.

You discover the ability to time travel. Where would you go first and why?

I think that I would like to go back to the 50s and 60s and watch my parents grow up. It would be great to see them as young people with their brothers and sisters and parents around. I would love to know my parents from that perspective.

What’s your favorite movie and why?

The Philadelphia Story. I love old movies, especially Cary Grant movies. I think he is phenomenal in The Philadelphia Story and Katharine Hepburn, Ruth Hussey and Jimmy Stewart are great. It’s a movie that I can watch again and again. It’s timeless.

How does it feel to work in an office with so many Jennifers?

Ha! I grew up in an era with a lot of Jennifers, so I am used to it. I have been “Jennifer A.” all my life.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take,” by Wayne Gretzky

TS Academy Webinar Series Goes Live During Three-Day Risk Summit

The 2015 Risk Summit will feature an in-person demonstration of the TargetSolutions Academy. Normally a seven-week webinar series, managers will have the opportunity to ask questions, explore tips and tricks, and learn how to get the most out of TargetSolutions.

The 2015 Risk Summit, scheduled for November 2-4 at the Maderas Golf Club in Poway, Calif., will be a captivating three-day training workshop, featuring platform solutions, engaging speakers, and an inclusive demonstration of the TargetSolutions Academy.

Normally a seven-week webinar series for platform managers who are responsible for managing their organization’s utilization of the TargetSolutions platform, this live presentation will provide a comprehensive day of instruction to test, enhance and implement the platform.

“The Academy is going to be the primary piece of education that will be the most impactful in the quickest fashion,” says Kelly Zielinski, TargetSolutions’ Business Unit Manager. “What we’re hoping is when you come to the Academy on Day 3 you can go back to your organizations and feel capable to manage the TargetSolutions platform.”

The Academy will feature a basic learning track, led by a TargetSolutions account manager, to demonstrate the platform’s overview and fundamentals. Also available for more experienced platform managers will be industry-specific groups, including Public Works, K-12 Education, Fire Service and Cities & Municipalities.

With Summit space dwindling, now is the time to reserve seating for what will be an informative and engaging training workshop for new and experienced platform managers alike.

“We’ve had people say ‘this online version is great but can we do it in person?’ The answer is yes, you can and it’s at the summit.”

Kelly Zielinski, Business Unit Manager for TargetSolutions

Please click here to register for the 2015 Risk Summit. If you would like more information about this event, contact us at (800) 840-8048.