Sponsored by Tyler Technologies
By Sarah Calams for FireRescue1 Brand Focus
To be fully prepared before arriving on scene, it is imperative that fire crews have information on all structures within their jurisdiction in case of an emergency.
Understanding details like where a building is located, what hazardous materials are inside, and relevant contact information is critical for firefighters to make accurate and potentially lifesaving decisions during an incident.
Tyler Technologies’ New World CrewForce, an app designed specifically for first responders, ensures firefighters have the critical information they need – all at their fingertips.
Accessing real-time information while en route
CrewForce enables firefighters to instantly access accurate, real-time information while responding to a scene.
“We present all of that relevant information right to the user from a smart device,” said Duane Kietzman, mobility product owner for Tyler Technologies.
Using an app on a mobile device allows crews to gain quick access to information while en route.
“Traditionally, fire trucks have one laptop in the front of the rig,” Kietzman said. “The person in the front right seat, who’s typically the most senior command member, gets access to the details that are available in the dispatch system and then they have to relay all that out.”
However, with CrewForce, each crewmember can quickly and efficiently look over call-specific information on a smartphone or smart device.
“Crews can start to spread that workload out amongst the crews while they’re riding to the scene – whether that’s through a tablet that’s in the back that they can pass around and look at pre-planning documents or floor plans,” said Kietzman. “And, the information that is displayed is tailored to the user.”
Understanding who the user is and what they are doing is key. CrewForce is configured to the user and the role they are undertaking, no matter where they are located.
Today’s smartphone users are used to customization and intuitive design. Those in the fire service are no different.
“With a newer, modern, changing workforce and work dynamic, we wanted to make sure we built in something that tailors that information and is really easy to use,” he said. “Having something that’s very intuitive and easy to learn is important – it’s one of the things we’ve made sure to do in this application.”
This user-specific information is critical for responding firefighters, but it’s also imperative for incident command personnel.
The importance of fireground accountability
If crews are dispatched to an active fire and a battalion chief is following the rig to the scene, the first thing the battalion chief will receive is a push notification on their smartphone or smart device.
“The battalion chief walks out, hops in and all the information is presented right there,” Kietzman said. “The chief gets to see the call details, some driving directions, the call notes, narratives and pre-planning information.”
Once on scene, the CrewForce app presents the battalion chief with additional pre-planning information and details – complete with the ability to start keeping track of crews on scene.
“Right from our app, it will show them we’ve got Engine 2, Rescue 3 and Medic 1 all on scene. They can see the individual personnel that are associated with that … and check on them every 10 minutes,” Kietzman explained. “It will give them an alert to let them know, ‘Hey it’s time to check in on people,’ and they’ll be able to do that right from the app.”
Leveraging CrewForce’s accountability feature allows incident command personnel to keep tabs on their crews as well as their progress on scene.
“Anytime anything happens, they can just pull out their phone and look and see exactly what’s happening,” Kietzman said.
The CrewForce app, Kietzman added, allows firefighters and department personnel to perform similar actions that are normally done via radio directly on their smartphone.
Situational awareness, managing the scene
For instance, rather than knowing where the fire truck is parked on scene, CrewForce can track the incident commander that’s carrying a smartphone or smart device on scene.
“Incident command is not necessarily going to be running into the building – they’re going to be managing the scene, but they may be traveling from the east, west or north side of a building to get a different perspective and vantage point,” Kietzman said. “So, their location is going to be tracked rather than just a parked fire truck.”
Tracking a firefighter’s or incident command personnel’s whereabouts is done via GPS and the information is relayed back in real-time.
Additionally, personnel can also add information to the incident as it’s in progress.
“If they arrive on scene and someone comes out, say it’s a homeowner, and tells them more information that they didn’t tell the dispatcher, then they can go and add notes or update details right from the phone,” Kietzman said.
Traditionally, crews radio the information in and dispatch updates the notes on their end. Now, CrewForce can streamline the information for everyone.
“They can just use the voice dictation right from the phone and say, ‘Enter, the fire started in the kitchen,’ and it goes down to everyone,” he said.
Moreover, maintaining situational awareness, Kietzman says, is made easier thanks to some of the app’s features and functions.
“The pre-planning piece of it for buildings, sprinklers, elevators – essentially everything about the building and location – can be pulled right from the CrewForce application,” he said.
Users can also use the app to plot things like the location of each hydrant within their jurisdiction.
“Responding to a structure fire and knowing where those hydrants are, be it on the corner one or two houses down, is very important,” he said.
From accessing building information while en route to managing an active fire scene, CrewForce’s role-based and real-time data ensures firefighters arrive on scene better prepared and able to serve the community they’ve sworn to protect.