Every year, the 63-member staff of Brentwood Fire and Rescue responds to thousands of calls.
Russell Peterson, Brentwood, TN's fire department chief for training, risk, and emergency management, says if the trend continues, Brentwood firefighters will respond to about 3,500 calls in 2016, up 10 percent from 2015.
In the midst of all the calls, the department must also find time to train the firefighters so they are able to perform in all required capacities all the different facets the job requires—from firefighting to emergency medical services to teaching CPR classes at public schools. When it comes time for in-service training, Brentwood sends half of the staff to classrooms and has the other half cover calls. But as call volume increases, the department often has to stop classes to pull out more staff to help run calls.
Tennessee’s state commission on firefighting requires departments to make their in-service tests different each time the tests are offered. Previously, Brentwood was using paper versions of tests, which meant Peterson would have to write different versions of the test, print them out and spend time grading them. In an attempt to simplify the process, Peterson switched to the online testing tool QuizEgg, but it didn’t allow for much administrative control. He worried about the security of the information in the event of an audit by the state commission.
“If your department is forward-thinking and looking for ways to improve, having one secure place that everyone goes to for critical content is essential. Good document management is a two-way street. You not only need to disseminate content effectively, but also get acknowledgement back that your staff has seen it. I think that’s really important, and PowerDMS will do that for you.”
Russell Peterson - DIVISION CHIEF OF TRAINING & RISK MANAGEMENT, BRENTWOOD (TN) FIRE DEPARTMENT
When Peterson heard about PowerDMS from Brentwood’s police department in 2011, he realized it could be an easier way to complete training and make sure firefighters could access and review training information at any time.
The department is planning to offer its first online course through PowerDMS this year, with more classes planned for the future.
Brentwood also uses PowerDMS for state-mandated testing to ensure the firefighters retain essential information after training. Peterson plugs test questions into PowerDMS, which automatically makes the question and answer sequence unique for each employee and also distributes and grades the tests. PowerDMS keeps the information secure and provides specific data about who has completed the tests and which questions each person missed. It also serves as a one-stop-shop for Peterson to offer post-course evaluations and monitor feedback and training requests.
Between digital testing and paperwork, PowerDMS saves Brentwood Fire and Rescue time, money and resources.
Peterson estimates that using PowerDMS for testing is at least 33 percent faster than QuizEgg, freeing up several hours each week that he used to spend formatting questions and sending out links.
Along with cutting costs in manpower and paper, PowerDMS also allows Peterson to see which test questions are most commonly missed. He can then let instructors know what topics they need to spend more time on in training, improving the quality of Brentwood’s training program as a whole.
Even after initial training and testing is complete, PowerDMS provides a place for secure and accessible document storage, which allows the Brentwood staff to standardize methods across the entire department. Any Brentwood employee can use PowerDMS to view training bulletins that include PowerPoint presentations, videos and step-by-step instructions on important tasks, providing a common thread that increases consistency across the department.
When it came time for the department to renew its accreditation with the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Peterson looked to PowerDMS as a secure way to manage documents and ensure that employees had read policies and procedures. Peterson also has started setting alerts through PowerDMS to remind individual employees when it’s time to renew their certifications, keeping the department running smoothly.
Time and resources saved on training and testing
33 percent faster quiz process
Data on how to improve training