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Data Awareness Provides Key Metrics and Insight for Surprise, Ariz., Fire Department

Surprise (Ariz.) Fire Medical Department (SFMD) was committed to taking the organization to the next level. Stakeholders within the department set out to put our data to work for the betterment of the department and community. SFMD wanted to make two major changes within the department: purchase a new record management solution (RMS) that could handle all of our Fire, EMS and Preventative data needs, and then use that large amount of data to improve the department from the top down.

The Department

SFMD is a medium-sized paid department. We are located 30 miles Northwest of Phoenix, Arizona.The Phoenix Metropolitan area is dispatched by the Phoenix Fire Department in an automatic-aid environment. Our automatic-aid system is comprised of the following vehicles: 260 engines, 54 ladders, 77 Battalion Chiefs, 102 municipal controlled ambulances and 165 privately controlled ambulances.

The Tools & Training

Four years ago, SFMD made the decision to move its operation into a new record management system that could handle all the RMS needs of the organization. We began our search and quickly discovered there were no companies out there yet that offered a combined solution for all of our data needs.

It wasn’t long until we found a product that had the functionality we were looking for. With ImageTrend Elite, we could collect all of our data — fire, EMS and prevention — in one place. After initial training was completed for all of our providers and staff, we turned our attention to the reporting capability and fulfilling our second goal: using the data to continue to improve the organization’s effectiveness.

Using the Data

ImageTrend Elite’s Report Writer is a powerful reporting that allows the user to build reports to look at any number of data points being collected out in the field. With this functionality, the department was able to focus on numerous areas where we could look at our data to make changes.

Modifications to our deployment, shift-staffing, and even how our run form was being documented were all components we reviewed as a way to motivate positive change throughout the organization. Not only were we able to create these reports with ease, we additionally were able to automate these reports with the scheduler function that is included in Report Writer. We could pick specific times to send reports to key stakeholders to standardize review of the data and start to construct time sensitive trends.

I was fortunate to attend last year’s ImageTrend Connect, a half-week long user’s conference focused on client education. While in attendance, we discovered another reporting tool, Continuum, that would further our initiative at SFMD of real-time, on-demand data. With this application, SFMD was able to utilize dashboards focused on key metrics such as response times, unit hour utilization and crew performance. It allowed for us to see a near-live picture of how and what our department was doing, at any given time.

Sharing Our Results

With the provider’s data, and leadership using powerful reporting tools to better understand the trends, we realized that the next step would be sharing what we’ve learned with our crews first-hand. SFMD felt that in order to make long-lasting changes throughout the organization we would need buy-in from the actual providers themselves; we wanted to visually show people how their hard work impacts the organization as a whole.

We also wanted to share this data throughout Fire Administration and possibly the City Manager’s Office using the public playlists within Continuum. After researching media options to assist us with displaying our data, we selected a product called BrightSign, which allows us to play public safety announcements and control the device remotely.

Over the coming year, we will install large monitors in each of the fire stations and crew quarters throughout the organization. These large monitors will display multiple dashboards and metrics from Continuum — the idea being that crews will be able to, at any time during their shift, see the working operational health of the department by reviewing hot spots for calls that have taken place and how response and turn-around times have looked like over the past few days.

By making this data easily accessible to our crews, they will be motivated, even by competition, to make improvements; maybe getting to the truck a little quicker, or to completing their calls more quickly. We are in the business of seconds, not minutes. Even with our good response times currently, shaving off seconds to better serve our community is our goal.

Additionally, SFMD will use Continuum to create a business case for having the city approve the building of a new station and grow a greater awareness of the department’s impact throughout the community. We feel that this initiative is going to help mold the department’s growth well into the future.

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