Many Emergency Reporting customers initially came to us already having used another records management system (RMS). The typical reason for wanting to ditch their old software is simple: their previous RMS did not meet their expectations, and they wanted to upgrade to an RMS that will. Independence Fire Department in Independence, OH is one such agency that switched for that reason. The department’s Assistant Fire Chief, Jim Wheeler, gave us some insight into why they chose to switch from FIREHOUSE Software to Emergency Reporting. Here are the top 5 reasons Independence FD chose ER:
1. Ease of Use: Wheeler says that having a user-friendly RMS with easy navigation was a big draw for them.
2. Web-based: ER’s secure, cloud-based RMS does not require software installation and is accessible any time, anywhere.
3. API Integrations and Add-ons: ER seamlessly integrates with industry-leading software companies and offers add-ons for a truly customizable solution. Asst. Chief Wheeler says that his department especially liked that ER offers CAD, Google Maps, and Aladtec integrations.
4. Training Opportunities: ER’s training opportunities – including regional classes and the ability to host regional classes – were another big draw.
5. Customer Support: Chief Wheeler says that ER’s excellent customer support was a big selling point – citing the quick response and support on any issues and the helpful training staff.
Independence FD Assistant Chief Jim Wheeler
Pulling High-Quality Data
Another major benefit is the fact that Independence FD has been able to leverage their data and analytics in the ER system to create robust monthly reports and ultimately tell their story to the community. Here are some of the key data reports that Asst. Chief Wheeler says he can quickly pull from the ER system and transfer to his monthly reports:
- Summary of calls, featuring % of change over past 3 years
- Dollar loss
- Incident count with % of calls per day/hour
- Incident categories by day/hour
- COVID call issues with a heat map from BI Beta
- Interstate Highway incidents with heat map
- Overlapping calls and percentages during different parts of the day
- Calls/shift comparison
- Turnout time/shift comparison
- Call participation by members
- YTD responses per vehicle
- Training categories and times
- Inspection activity for prevention bureau
- Maintenance on vehicles/equipment
Utilizing ER Data & Analytics
Independence FD uses the records and data obtained through the ER system in many ways. For one, Asst. Chief Wheeler says the department’s training needs and priorities are determined each year through their training records in ER. He says ER can also be helpful with capital purchases in estimating the cost and useful life of the item. They’ve also utilized ER data to help justify the department’s needs in their grant requests.
Independence FD was even able to run trending reports in ER for several years that illustrated a steady daily increase in calls for service and other types of work details. Thanks to this data, they were able to successfully demonstrate to city administration the need to increase staffing by one firefighter per shift. This data led to the hiring of three additional firefighters.
Taking Advantage of the Occupancy Module
Several years ago, when the department received a FEMA grant for $24,000 to install CO and smoke detectors for the elderly residents in town, they utilized the Occupancy Module in ER to track placement and participation in this program. Asst. Chief Wheeler says that Reports #727 and #646 helped them keep track of information received by this temporary program.
The department utilized this information again last year during the COVID-19 crisis. “We had a database of elderly residents that we were able to contact with a phone survey to determine immediate needs in the community in light of the ‘Shelter in Place’ order by the Ohio governor,” Asst. Chief Wheeler says.
Independence FD is also gathering and utilizing data in ER for responses to their Interstate Highway system. According to Asst. Chief Wheeler, the data is providing evidence for a project to add an emergency entrance ramp from their service department to the highway. This quick access will allow them to significantly decrease response times to certain areas of the interstate highway.
ER Makes a Difference with ISO Audits
Asst. Chief Wheeler says ER proved to be helpful with their last ISO evaluation. He attended one of ER’s Virtual Thursday webinars focusing on ISO ratings, where he learned helpful information that the department was able to use for their own evaluation. “This was just a few months prior to our scheduled audit, so the timing was perfect for a refresher on what to expect and how to organize our data most efficiently for any questions that would come up,” he says.
Asst. Chief Wheeler also downloaded the ER white paper on ISO audits and found the following chart and reports very useful for organizing much of their data:
“Our ISO rating improved from a four to a three, in part with help from the reports and guidance from ER,” Asst. Chief Wheeler says.
The benefits of making the switch to ER have been numerous for Independence FD, but Asst. Chief Wheeler says that one of his favorite aspects of the ER system is “the fact that our operations are backed up by a talented group who want to see all of us as individual fire departments succeed in our service to our communities.”
Screenshots from Emergency Reporting, photos courtesy of Independence Fire Department.
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