Fire Training Unlimited, our training company, started out like many instructor groups across the country who are passionate about sharing our trade with others. Two dudes, a garage, and some sketches of training props on a bar napkin. Before you know it, we are surrounding ourselves with other like-minded instructors and providing in-person instruction on various topics to multiple fire departments in the Pacific Northwest. Turns out there is a need for good instruction tailored to an agency’s specific needs, delivered without ego.
We are always looking for other avenues to improve how organizations deliver their service to the community. For us, it comes from looking internally and improving our existing programs or by creating new services to meet their need. A few years ago, a Training Officer from one of our partner agencies asked if we had any recommendations on a system for tracking and delivering training. At the time we had nothing, as neither myself or Jason (my FTU Co-Founder) liked our own department’s tracking and delivery system. I had experience with several other platforms with other agencies I had been a part of in the past, but I certainly didn’t feel compelled to recommend any of them. This Training Officer also mentioned that he was paying a bunch of money to one of the larger vendors and was completely dissatisfied with the product. Bummer.
Unless you want to use a combination of email, YouTube, Google Drive, Dropbox, or a flash drive, there wasn’t a great platform out there to do this efficiently.
A few weeks later, a Training Officer from a different organization mentioned at one of our hands-on classes that she really liked our content. She asked if there was a way for us to deliver the curriculum to her agency remotely in advance of the hands-on portion, in order to maximize their time out-of-district. She also mentioned that it would be great to be able to reproduce some of our drills at her fire station by getting a complete curriculum package from us electronically. Unless you want to use a combination of email, YouTube, Google Drive, Dropbox, or a flash drive, there wasn’t a great platform out there to do this efficiently.
If done right, personnel should be able to access their training materials and track their completion, all in the same place.
Over time, we discovered that most of our customers had the same challenges with efficiently tracking training, and more importantly, delivering it to their members. Even our own fire departments have had problems doing all of this with one tool. We have always thought there must be a better way to deliver training using existing technology. If done right, personnel should be able to access their training materials and track their completion, all in the same place.
Ideally this also reduces out-of-service time as well, especially for training that makes sense to deliver electronically. I often scratched my head in disbelief as my own fire department would take our companies out of service for 2+ hours to sit through a mandatory classroom session that could be delivered remotely with the appropriate technology. If I can FaceTime my kids from the fire station each night, why can’t I view a class “live” on my smarty-phone or desktop instead of going out-of-service for 2 hours?
We began looking at how departments such as Los Angeles County deliver and track training over a wide geographic area to a diverse group of members with different training needs (officers, medics, boat operators, wildland, tech rescue, hazmat, etc). The bottom line is that we did not find a viable, easy-to-use solution until we got in touch with Jeff at Rescue Hub.
If I’m forced to use a training/tracking application, I want it to focus on delivery first, and tracking second. Most of the other vendors we’ve found do it the other way around.
Rescue Hub completely changes the way that we deliver (and track) training in the fire service, but I will tell you it is bass-ackwards. I mean that in a good way. As any good fireman or company officer will say, the most important thing we do besides responding to emergencies is ensuring that we are well trained. If I’m forced to use a training/tracking application, I want it to focus on delivery first, and tracking second. Most of the other vendors we’ve found do it the other way around. Rescue Hub totally integrates everything needed for delivery and tracking into a single platform: calendar, email (messaging), video hosting, video conferencing, training material storage, certification tracking, easy data entry, and reporting. Oh, and I can do it all from my smart-phone if I choose to.
Sounds like a lot going on behind the curtain, and there is. But here’s the beauty of it: Rescue Hub leverages technology that most of us are familiar and comfortable with…even the old guys still rocking the flip phone. My own fire department began using Rescue Hub in 2016. Just like any new program, there were a few hiccups as we went from pen and paper entries to using this whole technology thing. These days, both the old guys and the millennials are happy, as everything is in one spot and it saves a bunch of TIME…. our most valuable resource.
Rescue Hub leverages technology that most of us are familiar and comfortable with…even the old guys still rocking the flip phone.
From a training delivery point of view, my agency is just beginning to scratch the surface of Rescue Hub’s capabilities. Many of our training materials are in the form of Word docs, Powerpoints, and 3-ring binders. The goal is to begin transitioning our document-based information into video-based training materials. Try to get a seasoned Captain to build a Powerpoint on an evolution that his crew kicks ass at… good luck with that. However, the notion of being able to take out our smarty-phone and record the same 3-minute evolution, do a quick edit, and share with anyone we want in the organization is pretty compelling.
Getting the content up-front also ensures that each member’s hands-on drill time is maximized, as we don’t need to spend much time in the classroom or doing the drill ground spin-up.
The next step for my company in utilizing Rescue Hub is to package and deliver a complete year’s worth of training to our member agencies. We’re talking lesson plans, supplemental documents, skill videos that we produce, task sheets, the whole shebang. This allows agencies without a full training staff to focus more on the strategy and logistics of delivery instead of the nitty gritty of creating content from scratch. Getting the content up-front also ensures that each member’s hands-on drill time is maximized, as we don’t need to spend much time in the classroom or doing the drill ground spin-up. As we all know, hands-on training is where the rubber meets the road. Any training delivery system should help enable this, not replace it.
If you are looking for a better solution for delivering (and tracking) your Fire/EMS Department’s training, give Rescue Hub a hard look… you won’t be disappointed.
Co-Founder, Fire Training Unlimited
About the Author and Fire Training Unlimited:
Todd Wigal has been in the fire service for 22 years and is currently a Captain of a Engine/Heavy Rescue Company for a large suburban fire department in Snohomish County, WA. He has been deeply involved in training for his own department as well as others around the state. He co-founded Fire Training Unlimited in 2012 with Jason Huizenga as a means to share their passion for the fire service to a wider audience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.