It is a beautiful sunny day. It is the kind that makes you really appreciate how good life is. Birds are chirping, there is a perfect light breeze, the smell of barbeque is in the air. Life is good … and just like that, the tones sound and you are off to answer a call for help. What you do next is driven by experience, training, and intuition. Your success on scene depends on the information you have. This is reality for all first responders.
Empowering your operation with data helps your team respond effectively and efficiently. But, it is not all about having live data, it is also about balancing reaction and being proactive and ready.
Here are five ways data management solutions, like those offered by Emergency Reporting, help your department make better decisions.
Effective Natural Disaster Response
Communities reply on first responders to lead when natural disaster strikes. You report conditions and answer the calls for help. You also exchange data across many agencies. Division Chief of Training at Panama City Fire Department (PCFD) in Florida, Scott Flitcraft knows all too well how important being ready for anything can be. This is what he has to say about preparing for Florida’s active hurricane season:
“Living in Florida, hurricanes are a part of life, and we have been impacted many times as a department. Each year before the beginning of the hurricane season, we review our policies and procedures regarding the phases of a hurricane. Doing this enables all of our personnel, not just the Operations Division, to be clear on what role they will play if a storm comes our way. Our plan places staff in roles before an event, lays out what function they will perform within our incident management system and how they may participate at the County Emergency Operations Center, which is where we receive our dispatching. The documentation we utilize is specific in that we track ‘storm-related’ calls with mileage to recoup funds if possible. We also look for damage to equipment, firehouses, and apparatus and attempt to manage this efficiently.”
-Scott Flitcraft, Division Chief of Training at Panama City Fire Department (PCFD) in Florida
Chief Flitcraft uses data to prepare for and to inform his response on-the-fly. Through being able to look at these events objectively, he significantly helps identify where resources shine, where they can be improved and he can identify response tactics that may work better in the future. Without a data management tool, sorting this information might take weeks. Most importantly, having good data keeps your team safe. Having insight helps quickly identify team limits while helping you recognize more quickly when to call in mutual aid or even pause while the danger passes.
Chances are you became a first responder because you want to help people. This doesn’t matter if you are fulltime or a volunteer. Being a first responder has a lot more to it than being a hero. Community involvement gives fire and fire/rescues an opportunity to educate. Fire prevention, practicing drills, and ensuring your community is ready for emergency empowers them to make smart choices and is also proven to save lives and property.
Thomasville Fire Rescue (TFR) in Thomas County, Georgia is an all-hazards fire and rescue department that knows this value. In addition to an impressive list of capabilities that enable them to keep citizens safe, they were able to reduce fire calls over 35% through education! According to a four-year report conducted between 2014 and 2017, building fires were down by over 40% and other fires (outside, rubbish, and grass) were down by 50%!
How did they achieve this incredible reduction in calls? They did a Community Risk Assessment. They identified their needs, looked at integrating risk management in fire prevention education, and developed community education programs based around fire prevention. Regular program audits, comprehensive community risk assessments, and having the ability to recall factual and accurate information helps you plan, report, and budget. It also creates camaraderie and a strong sense of partnership between you and your community.
Legal Liability and Sensitive Information Responsibility
When it comes to legal liability, data is your friend. Alternatively, a lack of data can be your worst enemy. If you have ever had to defend your department, fast access to good data can make all of the difference. Because fire departments are in the public eye, they are held to high standards. Whether it is the press, local and federal governing bodies, or regulators, accountability is in high demand. Due to this, it is vital you can access the necessary data to defend your actions.
In addition, your organization handles some highly sensitive personal information. With HIPPA and FERPA laws (to name a couple), you need to maintain a high degree of information integrity. Your community depends on you to keep their personal information confidential. Having a data management solution in place helps keep data organized and secure, so you can get back to saving lives and property.
Anyone who has completed grant paperwork knows that you need to provide A LOT of information for funding consideration. And you have a lot of data. From CAD to alerting software, personnel records to trainings, equipment data and everything in between, having a comprehensive records management system in place like the one provided by Emergency Reporting offers you a repository for all of your data. It also helps you collect the information you need more quickly and efficiently. This type of data empowers you to gain necessary funding to keep your operation running it’s best.
Taking Care of Your Most Important Assets
Perhaps the most valuable thing about having great, easily accessible data, is that it enables you to watch your team. Knowing how your equipment and supplies sit isn’t enough. You need to be able to see how your team functions to make sure they are at their best. Good physical and mental health makes for highly effective teams.
In addition to having life-saving data for your team on-scene, Emergency Reporting offers the luxury of having records of training. Health screenings and other important personnel information is not only required, but offers the opportunity to tailor training, drills, and screenings around what your team needs most. If you know the physical and mental well-being of your team is met, you ensure they are ready to answer the call on that nice, sunny, summer day.
For more great ways data management systems can help empower you with data, check out our website and be sure to read our blog.
Sources & Resources: