Technology with a Purpose

Archive for April, 2016

Meet the Team: Account Manager Ashley Bennett

Born in Hawaii, Ashley moved to San Diego as a child and has resided in Southern California ever since. Having worked in the training field in a previous position, Ashley has fit in nicely here at TargetSolutions. Now serving as an account manager in the Rockies and Southern regions, Ashley spends her days helping agencies implement TargetSolutions’ online training management system and teaching clients how to operate the platform.

“My focus is on helping clients get the most out of TargetSolutions,” said Ashley. “It really is a tremendous training platform that can help an organization manage training more efficiently.”

Learn more about Ashley from this recent Q-and-A:

What is a fun fact about you that clients may not know?

Everyone at the office knows, but clients may not know that after having my daughter, I became freaked out about chemical-filled products and got involved with essential oils. Shortly after, I became obsessed with the oil life. Now I make homemade products using essential oils.

Name your favorite four-legged creature.

I would say dogs. I have four dogs, who are my fur children! In my spare time I help out at dog shelters and foster dogs.

Something you miss about your childhood?

I miss softball. I played for 10 years and I loved it. I stopped playing to work when I turned 16.

Favorite day of the week?

Saturdays, they are such free days!

Art Museum or Concert?

Concert because I am obsessed with music.

Favorite TV shows?

Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, The Voice

Favorite Music?

Hip hop & R&B, but I love country music too.

Two Popular Courses in TargetSolutions’ Training Catalog for Water Professionals Undergo Enhancements

TargetSolutions’ course catalog for water and wastewater professionals features more than 60 hours of accredited recertification training.

Backflow Prevention Overview and Storm Water Pollution Prevention, two important courses in TargetSolutions’ online course catalog, have been updated with brand new content and dynamic interactions. Both of these courses help satisfy continuing education requirements for water professionals in participating states.

“These two courses are the most commonly needed training requirements for water professionals,” said Client Services Manager Jennifer Jones. “TargetSolutions allows water professionals to get continuing education units for both of these courses in an effective and cost-efficient manner.”

Backflow Prevention Overview focuses on protecting public health and ensuring a safe water supply. Storm Water Pollution Prevention touches on the importance of recognizing pollution sources and related hazards.

If you have any questions about these courses, or others inside TargetSolutions’ online training catalog for water and wastewater, please contact us today at (800) 840-8048.

Creating a Healthy and Fit Culture for Your Fire Department

Healthy Fire Department Culture

Since 2007, firefighter Aaron Zamzow has served as a firefighter and EMT with the City of Madison Fire Department in Wisconsin. He is also an author and certified personal fitness trainer. He began his career, however, in the fitness industry at 18 years old. He has worked with elite athletes and studied under some of the top trainers in the world. Zamzow believes diet and exercise are foundations for a healthier fire department culture.

We recently spoke with Zamzow about how the fire service can create a healthier culture, a topic he presented on at Firehouse World in San Diego this past February. Here is the Q-and-A:

Firefighting is a physically strenuous job, but when you say “creating a healthy and fit culture,” that implies something needs to change. What do you think needs to change?
It seems 99 percent of the budget that most cities have is spent on PPE (personal protective equipment), which is necessary, but only 1 percent is spent on the health and wellness of those operating the equipment, and that seems backwards.

What diseases or conditions put firefighters at risk due to their occupation?
PTSD is prevalent in the service. Suicide is prevalent. Health and safety issues, sudden cardiac arrest, plus all of the injuries that go along with the job. There are a lot of resources out there, but not a lot of application. We’re talking about it, but nobody’s really doing much about it.

To maintain the kind of culture you’re striving for, where should resources be allocated?
Spend more time and money on wellness resources. Funding should be allocated toward the education of what exactly is health and fitness. Even just getting fire departments to talk about PTSD and nutrition and get people to talk more about fitness and health and wellness and what they should be doing to improve it.

Departments will spend thousands to get chiefs to come in and talk about fire attacks and behavior but they don’t allocate any of those funds to health and fitness to make people more aware of it. By simply bringing a few pieces of fitness equipment into the firehouse shows your staff that you’re making the commitment to fitness.

Read More Fire Service Content

Leadership needs to start stepping up, including chiefs. Prevalent people in the industry need to step up and say this is important and place emphasis on it. Chiefs need to be leaders and set the example. It doesn’t have to be extreme but they need to be aware that they can be the ones that set a program in place. Lead by example and be open. Don’t be a dictator. Find resources that are out there even if you’re a small department. Set an example. Start providing resources around the firehouse. It can be cheap stuff, like foam rollers.

Go out into the community. People believe in helping and giving back to the fire service and could help with the promotion of health and fitness. Firefighters are highly motivated and very competitive. We had a “Fit for Duty” challenge where crews can challenge each other and set weight loss goals. Let’s say that everyone puts in $10 and the winning crew gets the money. Make the challenge to change the culture and be that leader. There are resources and things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money but that can get people involved. If 20-30 people in a department of 100 participate in a challenge with no money out of pocket, that can really change a culture right there.

What are the basic steps to sustaining a healthy and fit lifestyle?
Drink more water. The more hydrated you are, the more actual fluid your blood is which makes it easier on your heart to do work. If you’re not hydrated, the blood is thicker and the heart works harder to circulate blood.

Work on core and flexibility training. The number one cause of early retirement is lower back pain and back injury followed by the shoulders and knees. The chances for injuries in this profession are high but being in better shape can lead to a quicker recovery.

Build a good cardio base. Get to the point where you’re doing intervals that mimic the spike in cardiac stress that you go through on the job. Help build that cardiovascular base.

Full body training. How often during a fire have you ever done a bench press? On the fireground, you’re never isolating anything.

Eat like an athlete would. Change the diet up. Stop eating like we traditionally do in the firehouse. Eat more fruits and veggies, no processed foods, and prepare meals ahead of time. Think of what you’re going to eat ahead of time. Got to be ready.

What is the culture like in the firehouse when it comes to dieting and nutrition?
Portions in the firehouses are huge. We usually eat on big platters because you don’t want to run out. My suggestion is to serve on smaller plates because it’s all about perception. A big plate with a lot of food creates the idea that “oh, I only ate one plateful so I have to go back and get more.” But if you have a small or medium plate, then your body and mind perceives it differently and tells your body that you are fuller.

Avoid highly processed foods, bagged foods, and packaged foods while including natural, one-ingredient foods. Always have vegetables and fruits available. I won’t throw sweets away because I don’t want to be “that guy,” but I’ll put them in the cupboard so it takes effort to get to them. Then I’ll leave celery and peanut butter with some orange slices on the table and, believe it or not, most of that stuff gets completely eaten. If you make it more work to get the bad stuff and you put some good stuff there, chances are they’ll take the good stuff.  Smaller portions, natural foods, and limit the sugars.

Aaron ZamzowAbout the Author
Aaron Zamzow is a firefighter and EMT for the City of Madison Fire Department in Wisconsin. He is also a degreed personal fitness trainer and author, as well as the owner of Fire Rescue Fitness, a company dedicated to creating products and blogs focused on keeping firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics in top physical condition and “fit for duty.” He has almost 10 years of experience as a firefighter/EMT and another 20 as a fitness expert, training with elite athletes and studying with some of the top trainers in the world.



TargetSolutions’ All-New Course Wrapper Offers a Sleek, Mobile-Friendly Experience

The all-new course wrapper makes TargetSolutions’ online training courses mobile responsive.

The next time you log on to TargetSolutions to complete an online training course, your jaw just might drop. The all-new course wrapper offers a sleeker interface built to improve every user’s experience.

The modern layout makes TargetSolutions’ entire catalog of more than 1,000 online training courses mobile-friendly. No matter what type of device you are utilizing, TargetSolutions will now have a dynamic feel as the course adjusts to fit your screen.

“Our new course wrapper helps TargetSolutions offer another important element of e-Learning: convenience,” said Director of Content Jeremy Lynch. “We understand online training is increasingly becoming a mobile activity, but before this upgrade we didn’t have the ability to design courses to be responsive to the end user’s device. Now we will be able to create courses that cater to the user. Start on a desktop, finish on a tablet or phone. Our wrapper will change as your device changes.”

The new design not only makes TargetSolutions’ online training more user-friendly, but more interactive. The enhanced formatting allows for greater audio and video capabilities. Users can now download course audio files for easier playback while navigating through a course.

Check out this help video to learn more about what has changed with TargetSolutions’ mobile-friendly course design.

In addition to audio downloads, the layout offers the same functionality as before, only in a new style. From the navigation menu, users are able to do the following:

  • Access other lessons from the table of contents
  • Read a course description and other important information
  • Ask their site administrator a question through the course
  • Type notes related to the course material
  • View instructions on how to utilize the course
  • See what percentage of the course’s required time is completed
  • Download an entire course’s audio content

Whether it’s Bloodborne Pathogens Safety training, Sexual Harassment Awareness training, or any other course in the catalog, TargetSolutions will now have the ability to do even more innovative upgrades in the future.

“TargetSolutions training will now be accessible by a wider audience and have fewer audio and video restrictions – no matter the browser. We are excited to take advantage of the content delivery options this wrapper upgrade offers us – whether it’s adding more audio and video or developing scenarios for 3D animation, we are well-positioned to improve how users consume our content.”

Jeremy Lynch, Director of Content, TargetSolutions

For more information on how to utilize TargetSolutions’ all-new course design, please see our help video or contact us at (800) 840-8048.


Developing the Future of the Fire Service

Future of the Fire Service

In February at Firehouse World, Jake Rhoades, a 24-year veteran of the fire service who currently serves as the chief of the City of Kingman Fire Department in Arizona, delivered a presentation, “Developing the Future of the Fire Service.” The discussion focused on the problems facing the industry’s culture of tradition and the ascension of firefighters through the ranks.

TargetSolutions had the opportunity to interview Chief Rhoades about the topic. Here is the Q-and-A:

What types of challenges are fire departments facing today and how do you think those can be addressed?
Right now we’re in the midst of big changes in the fire service. There’s a generational change; we’re retiring out a large chunk of experience, baby boomers are retiring, veterans who learned on the job over the last 25 years. Losing that on-the-job training is a huge setback because fires are actually down 62 percent. Those real-life scenarios and events haven’t been experienced by the new recruits and thus the service is forced to promote people who aren’t ready.

What does the future of the fire service mean to you?
Leadership is changing. Currently it’s quasi-military with a very set standard of “this is how we do it, this is our hierarchy, and this is how it is.” However, society as a whole is changing, not just the fire service. The old leaders who said, “we’re going to do this because I said so,” is going away. Today, people want to know why we do what we do and why we operate in our system. Communication is a much bigger crux in the fire service in that we cannot communicate enough, from the top down to the bottom up. The other part is planning and having a plan. I get to go around the country and talk and speak and no matter where you are, people don’t have development plans. What is your succession plan? Who is the next you? Who is the next fire chief? They don’t know, but there needs to be a plan in place to develop these people. Everyone needs to be on the same page with officer development, strategy, and succession plans.

read more fire service blogsA lot of models are out there to follow and there are lots of departments that are doing it right. We have to look around and look at our neighbors. We need to look at promotional policies. Ten to 15 years ago, a chief was required to have 15 years’ experience on the job. Today, an EFO is required, as is a master’s degree, and in some cases a Ph.D. is preferred. Before long a Ph.D. may become mandatory for a fire chief’s job.

We talked about some of the challenges currently facing departments. What are some of the things that are going right that can help prepare for the future?
Every one of us should have a comprehensive officer development program based on your organization. Nothing cookie cutter that can easily be copied. You can take whatever departments have and tweak it to your department, but it needs to be personalized with promotional policies and courses tailored to your own organization. We have to provide opportunities, guidance, and leadership for those individuals who are going to be us one day and wearing the white shirts and bugles. People have guarded their knowledge in the past because they didn’t want anyone to be smarter than them. I want people smarter than me. The more people below me who are smarter than me, the better we are as an organization and better off we are as a fire service.

When you hear the phrase “this is how we’ve always done it,” how does that make you feel about the future of the fire service? Do we need to change that mentality?
We should not and cannot tolerate that answer. We should give a definitive answer as to why we do what we do, even the small things; fog nozzles, smooth board nozzles, why ventilate every fire from the roof. We have to challenge the culture of the fire service in our organization and that’s difficult. That’s a hard battle because getting out of our comfort zone is very difficult. The fire service is very traditional and becomes engrained and even on the task firefighter level, guys get comfortable doing things a certain way. We have to challenge that daily.

It starts with the leadership of a department. Communicate those visions and goals for the organization. I think using an accreditation model from the CFAI (Commission on Fire Accreditation International) is critical for the fire service because that promotes continuous improvement. Stay on top of trends in the fire service and not accepting the status quo. As long as we accept the status quo then we fall behind. I say that the status quo gets people hurt and that’s the last thing we want to do. We work very hard for retirement. Firefighters are known for that. Let’s get them there safely so they can enjoy a life after the fire service. Enjoy those grandkids and enjoy life after working so hard serving their communities.


fire service futureAbout the Author
Jake Rhoades is a 24-year veteran of the fire service and is currently the chief of the City of Kingman Fire Department in Arizona. He holds a Master’s of Science degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership and is pursuing his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development. Chief Rhoades is a frequent author and speaks nationally on topics of relevance to the fire service.


Boost Your First Responders’ Emergency Preparedness with TargetSolutions

TargetSolutions’ First Responder Operations Level Refresher (Module 4) covers the use of hazardous materials during a terrorist attack.

TargetSolutions’ First Responder Operations Level Refresher training series provides valuable lessons for professionals who are regularly exposed to emergency environments.

The fourth module in the four-part series focuses on threats of terrorism and covers incident management, the perils of hazardous materials, and weapons of mass destruction. Module 4 consists of 11 lessons and a 10-question exam and has recently been updated with new content.

Here is a quick overview of the modules in this four-part series:

Module 1: Designed for personnel who respond to hazardous materials releases, this course discusses how to mitigate incidents in a defensive fashion.

Module 2: Covers the chemical and physical properties of materials, including their impact on storage and how to assess the risk to a responder for each hazard class.

Module 3: Explores the principles of site management, methods to establish and enforce control zones, tactics for emergency decontamination, and ways to conduct defensive operations.

Module 4: Provides an overview of a responder’s role in the response plan and how to identify an act of terrorism, which can be integral for navigating a safe and successful rescue.

“You can never be over-prepared for a situation like this. What separates this module from the other three is obviously terrorism. (First responders) will know how to handle the incident in a way that not only protects themselves and any of the innocent bystanders from potential exposure, but they’ll know they won’t be making a mistake that could make things worse rather than better.”

Jeremy Lynch, TargetSolutions’ Director of Content

For more information on TargetSolutions’ First Responder Operations Level Refresher training series or course in the online training library for first responders, please contact us today at 1 (800) 840-8048.

Accelerate Your Crew’s Experience with Scenario-Based Firefighter Training Courses

AlphaACT® FIRE’s scenario-based training courses are now available for purchase with TargetSolutions. Contact us for pricing at (800) 840-8046.

TargetSolutions has partnered with AlphaTRAC Products to deliver AlphaACT® FIRE’s scenario-based training.

These firefighter training courses are based on actual scenarios and are fully accessible after purchase via the TargetSolutions platform. Delivering a unique training experience built to help fireground incident commanders improve their decision-making skills, AlphaACT® FIRE can now be assigned, tracked and reported on with TargetSolutions.

AlphaACT® FIRE’s simulation training is inspired by real-life experiences. The program is integrated with the IAFC’s Near-Miss system to build an experience knowledge base in the training.

Here is an overview of the four courses currently available on the TargetSolutions platform:

69th Place Fire
This training session addresses a structure fire in a suburban area with many vacant structures. Longer response times and heavy interior smoke on arrival are important aspects of this event. Crew safety and identifying life hazards become critical tasks. Key event elements include: Flashover, Ventilation, Life Hazards and Arson. Learn More >

Division 2 Near-Miss
This training session addresses a structure fire in a highly structure-concentrated suburb. With a large crew responding, it’s a careful balancing act of applying abundant resources effectively to protect the crews’ life safety and complete the rescue. Learn More >

Oak Drive Fire
This training session addresses a structure fire in a large remodeled suburban home. With plenty of resources, using them effectively as well as locating and controlling the fire are key tasks to success. Learn More >

Watson Street Fire
This training session addresses a structure fire in a rural community with a limited number of responders available. Locating the fire will play a critical role in a successful outcome. Learn More >

“I can remember when the fire service began to discuss ideas like situational awareness and recognition-primed decision making. Time and incident experience were how you collected the volumes of ‘slides’ in your mental slideshow, but now few of us respond to enough actual incidents in a career to master those skills. AlphaACT® FIRE helps to fill that experience gap using simulations based on actual incidents, many of which I have read about in Near-Miss and LODD reports.”

Capt. James Messenger, Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department (Ohio)

To learn more about AlphaACT® FIRE’s scenario-based training courses, as well as the AlphaACT® FIRE’s Scenario Builder, and how these training tools can benefit your organization, please click here to register for an upcoming webinar. The webinar is open to anyone interested and is scheduled for 9 a.m. (PDT) every Wednesday.

If you have questions about pricing, please contact us today at (800) 840-8046.


TargetSolutions Partners with AlphaTRAC Products to Deliver Cutting-Edge Scenario-Based Training Courses

TargetSolutions will present AlphaACT® FIRE at booth No. 13026 during FDIC International 2016.

SAN DIEGO – TargetSolutions, the leading provider of computer-based training management applications for public safety agencies, is excited to announce its new partnership with AlphaTRAC Products, the creator of the industry’s premier simulation-based firefighter training courses.

FDIC International 2016 TargetSolutions will be at booth No. 13026 during the conference in Indianapolis, Ind. Here are the exhibit hall hours:
April 21: Noon to 6 p.m.
April 22: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
April 23: 9 a.m. to Noon

The alliance is formed just in time for FDIC International 2016, scheduled April 18-23 in Indianapolis, Ind., where TargetSolutions will demonstrate how AlphaTRAC’s cutting-edge simulation-based firefighter training courses, developed under the name AlphaACT® FIRE, are seamlessly integrated with TargetSolutions’ training management system.

“This is one of the most important conferences of the year for the fire service,” said TargetSolutions’ Director of Product Andrea Letzring. “Firefighters from all across the country will be in Indianapolis to focus on training, making it the perfect time for us to unveil AlphaACT® FIRE’s state-of-the-art simulation-based training courses on the TargetSolutions platform.

“We are thrilled to partner with AlphaTRAC Products to provide this innovative training on our system. We hope attendees will stop by our booth (No. 13026) to learn more about these courses, as well as TargetSolutions’ other applications for managing fire department training.”

TargetSolutions, which offers more than 250 hours of Fire and EMS recertification courses, as well as powerful technology for scheduling, delivering and tracking training and compliance, is eager to present AlphaACT® FIRE’s next-level training program.

AlphaACT® FIRE provides a unique training experience built to help fireground incident commanders improve their decision-making skills. These dynamic courses can now be assigned, tracked and reported on with TargetSolutions’ fire department software.

“AlphaTRAC Products is excited to partner with TargetSolutions to bring the next level of training to the firefighting community,” said AlphaTRAC Products’ CEO Reed Hodgin. “The real strength is in our common vision: To help save lives and bring firefighters home safely through the best training possible.”

If you are attending FDIC and would like a one-on-one overview of AlphaACT® FIRE’s training courses on the TargetSolutions platform, please stop by booth No. 13026. In addition, an overview webinar has been scheduled every Wednesday through the month of August. The webinar is open to anyone interested and will be conducted at 9 a.m. (PDT). Please click here to register.

If you have any questions about AlphaACT® FIRE’s course pricing, please contact us at (800) 840-8046.

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 4,000 organizations across the country using TargetSolutions’ innovative technology to solve their training challenges. For more information on TargetSolutions, check online at

About AlphaTRAC Products
AlphaTRAC Products is a spinout of AlphaTRAC, Inc. which was established in 1992 by experienced emergency management professionals. A privately held, high-tech company, AlphaTRAC has grown to serve a national base of clients, including the Department of Energy; the Department of Defense; the Department of Homeland Security; other federal, state, and local governments; and private industry. For more information on AlphaTRAC, check online at


Promote Safety and Reduce Liability with TargetSolutions’ Slips, Trips, and Falls Prevention Training

TargetSolutions’ Slips, Trips, and Falls Prevention training course helps organizations reduce safety hazards and promote a safer work environment.

One of the most popular training courses that can be found in TargetSolutions’ online training catalog is Slips, Trips, and Falls Prevention. This valuable course provides five modules to educate individuals on how to improve workplace safety from these types of incidents.

Based on standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the course explores the basic concepts and philosophies for enhancing an organization’s safety, identifying hazards, and analyzes case studies of real-world incidents.

“Slips, trips, and falls is one of our most popular courses and for very good reason,” said TargetSolutions Account Manager Amy Albanese. “This course aims to teach you to constantly be aware of your surroundings and to identify where hazards can take place, how hazards can take place, and teach you to alter your behavior to prevent that from affecting your work environment.”

For more information on this course, please contact TargetSolutions today at 1 (800) 840-8048.