We recently welcomed Gordon County Fire-Rescue in Calhoun, GA to the Emergency Reporting (ER) family. Before joining ER a few months ago, Gordon County Fire-Rescue was using FIREHOUSE Software. Theirs is a similar story to many fire departments around the country: After years of using an inadequate and underwhelming Records Management System (RMS), they’ve turned to ER to fulfill their incident reporting and records management needs. We chatted with Deputy Fire Chief Byron Sutton, who offers some great insight into why departments like his are making the switch, and why they love using ER.
Deputy Fire Chief Byron Sutton
ER: Why did you make the switch to ER?
Chief Sutton: Besides the fact that FH’s tech support was never up to a standard that I thought it should have been, when FH was sold to its latest owner, I was informed that they would not be upgrading the EMS module to be NEMSIS 3-compliant, as they already had PCR software that they could sell me for an additional cost. I found this to be unacceptable as a long-standing customer and began to search for other software that did integrate their EMS module with their National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) module. After an extensive bid and review process, I finally settled on ER and began working toward implementation.
ER: How was the initial set-up?
Chief Sutton: My sales rep, Michele, has been more than gracious in working with me for quite some time to get our account established with ER. We purchased our account in May and I worked for a couple of months on the back end exporting our data from our old software and working with ER to import that data.
ER: How does ER compare to other RMS software?
Chief Sutton: I compared [ER] to my previous software vendor and the three that bid during our bid process. A few of the deciding factors for me were the fact that the entire Marine Corps, and recently the U.S. Army, have contracts with ER, which in my mind quantifies the security of my data. There’s also the fact that the software is web-based, which means as long as you have an internet-capable device and a pathway to the internet, you can access your ER account anywhere in the world. And of course, there is the 99.99 uptime, which is huge in today’s software as a service market. Installing updates without having to bring the software down is a big thing for me as well.
ER: How does the cost compare to your previous software?
Chief Sutton: Initially, our cost for the first year is more, simply because we elected to have ER help with the onboarding process and the addition of CAD integration and a couple of licenses for our inspectors for the InspectER application. In the end, cost doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t happy with the RMS you have. With ER, I think the cost will be well worth every penny of investment.
ER: Would you say ER is easy to use?
Chief Sutton: Ease of use was one of the things that led me toward ER. From logging in (users can reset their own passwords instead of bothering an Administrator or ER Support, nor do they have to visit some other password management website that they can never remember the URL to), to the simplicity of completing NFIRS and EMS reports, to running administrative reports…”EASY” was one of the requirements I looked for when researching a new RMS.
ER: Does using ER save you time?
Chief Sutton: ER saves my ENTIRE department time – from the simplicity of following along with the colored bar to the NFIRS module telling the firefighter exactly what they missed and allowing them to click on the text and go back to correct or add the necessary data (which makes completing the NFIRS reports so much easier). This also makes QC of the reports by my Battalion Chiefs a lot easier as well. A huge time saver for my Executive Assistant is that the NEMSIS reports are automatically sent to our State EMS Office as soon as they pass our State validation requirements, which are set in our system. Finally, the ability to complete fire inspections of our occupancies on a digital device, rather than paper, is also something we expect to save our Fire Prevention personnel a great deal of time. No more servicing the customer via paper and then having to enter into an RMS at a later time.
ER: Are people at your station more productive since using ER?
Chief Sutton: Having used the software for only a few weeks, we have only begun to scratch the surface of the entire ER RMS system and what it will eventually do for us; however, from my experience with the demo and all the things the software appears to allow us to do, I foresee our productivity improving tremendously over our previous RMS. I also think the open API will benefit us in the long run by allowing other software we use to integrate and share data with ER, since my next software project is to allocate a viable scheduling software solution.
ER: What is your favorite aspect of ER software?
Chief Sutton: Besides the software itself, as the administrator of the software for our department, I must say that so far, besides the onboarding personnel who’ve helped me import my data, the training division personnel has been my favorite aspect of ER to this point. I’m pretty computer savvy on my own, but with the ER Support Page, the Virtual Thursday Webinars (both live and those recorded and made available through several mediums, e.g., Support page, Knowledge Base, YouTube channel, etc.), and most recently the addition of the Summer Boot Camp Series, I have used these recordings to aid me in understanding the ins and outs of ER and getting my system up and operational.
If you’d like to try out Emergency Reporting’s RMS at your department, sign up below for a free trial today: