What is the best way to train firefighters without taking them
away from their stations? Enter video conferencing.
To keep its firefighters and emergency medical personnel up to
date, the Peoria, Arizona, Fire Department conducts ongoing
training sessions among eight stations in the area. But the
department has always faced the trade-off between training staff
efficiently and keeping them close to their home stations in case
of an emergency.
It was always a logistical nightmare trying to schedule training at
one point in town for emergency medical personnel, while keeping
their stations staffed, explains Mark Nichols, training chief for
Peoria Fire Department. Weve started down the path of video
conferencing with Nefsis to bridge this gap, and I see the
potential to save at least $20,000 per year across our 8 stations.
Rolling out video conferencing
The department began looking into video conferencing in early 2009.
After researching other options, Nichols found that Nefsis combines
the high quality of video conferencing with the low cost, ease of
use and collaboration tools of web conferencing.
The computers were in place by early 2010 when the department
kicked off a pilot project connecting the fire administration
building to the first station. The project was partially funded
from the start, and the department estimates that the savings on
fuel and traveling expenses will make up most of the remainder.
Video conferencing training sessions take the form of a multipoint
online meeting among the desktops, laptops, and large monitors
installed in each station. The Peoria Fire Department is using
Nefsis collaboration, recording, and narration features to run
lessons directly from Nichols and other trainers laptop computers.
Trainers can reach firefighters and conduct effective training all
over the city, while stations remain fully manned. Training can be
done on things such as tactics and strategy, building construction
safety, EMT (emergency medical technician) classes and continuing
education for paramedics.
Nichols points to several ways in which this technology will
improve training and communication among stations:
Tactical training. They can stage simulated fire events via video
conference, in which one team sees and trains on the roof-level
training, another team has an inside-the-building view, and a third
trains on outside tactical management. More important, Nefsis level
of performance is such that the teams are able to train effectively
on the tactical collaboration it takes to fight a fire. All of this
training and continuing education takes place over a video
conference connecting the stations.
Staff meetings. Besides education-intensive training sessions, the
department can conduct administrative and staff meetings online
without removing medical personnel from their stations and service
Emergency review. Emergency medical personnel conduct quality
assurance on all of their calls, so when they come across a unique
or interesting case, they can provide a video conference of lessons
learned and discuss their response.
Hospital-paramedic contact. Live video plays a big part in this
important feedback loop. Doctors at hospitals can share final
x-rays and conduct Q&A via video conference so that paramedics
can see the diagnoses and outcomes of the patients theyve helped
and learn lessons for future responses; for instance, for spinal
injuries, big bone fractures and trauma.
Video conferencing is such a transparent way for us to stage all
this training that weve also eliminated the burden we would have
incurred for the citys IT department to manage staffing, software
and training, concludes Nichols.
Note: Contributed by Nefsis