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Emergency Response a Training Conflict

The primary responsibility for any fire department is to respond to calls from the public. Emergency response has steadily increased year after year. However, the response model and staffing are slow to respond to the growth in call volume. Training officers must evaluate the training plan and determine if calls are undermining the efficiency of training.

In high call volume systems, it is a constant battle between quality training and units being forced to break away to respond to calls. Online training has become a popular method for dealing with this conflict, though overuse of this format of training can be detrimental to core competencies. Drill ground evolutions and Instructor-Directed courses should be the primary method of training for the fire service. Online-individualized training and group Instructor managed training must be able to strike a balance. 

Technology is a useful tool that can help bridge some gaps between online and instructor-led training. The Fire Department that I work for has invested in the ability to live-stream training to remote fire stations using a secure invite-only training program. We have found that with a little practice, Instructors can create live broadcasts of classroom courses that can challenge and engage the audience. 

Previously, equipment costs for live broadcast could cost $100,000 or more.  Advancements in live streaming have made it much more affordable for smaller agencies to leverage this technology. Our department uses two specific technologies to bridge training gaps: GoToMeeting (www.gotomeeting.com), with an annual subscription of $1,000, which provides the ability to broadcast live, secure training to our stations. This program also allows the users at the remote stations to watch ask questions in real time of the broadcast. This technology, in conjunction with a product called the TriCaster Mini, allows for an added layer of quality training. The TriCaster retails for $5,995 at www.newtek.com and is a live video production switcher that allows multiple camera feeds to create a newscast type production by including multiple platforms of technology, including PowerPoint, video, audio and more. The Tricaster can also record the production to be watched later by crew members that had to leave the training for an emergency response.
      
The main advantage of live video streaming is that it keeps fire engines and medic units in their first due response area. Other benefits include the costs of fuel, reducing inefficiencies of moving apparatus for coverage while others train, and ensuring training is accessible through multiple platforms. 

By no means is live streaming the end all to the complexities of training conflicts. As the fire service takes on more programs that require training and the call volume continues to rise, Training Officers will need to come up with alternatives on how training is delivered. Therefore, the success of a Training Officer, and subsequently the Training Division, may come down to how creative they can get in delivering quality training.

By: Jay Sumerlin, Training Safety & Officers Section Board Member


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Posted: Jul 25, 2017,
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