How One EMS Agency in Pennsylvania Has Taken Its Training Program to a New Level


By Utilizing TargetSolutions, Holy Spirit EMS Is Able to Save Money, Streamline Training Efficiencies

Emergency responders and the organizations they work for in the state of Pennsylvania are facing new challenges in how to meet EMS continuing education requirements. The previously utilized PA Prepared Online Learning System is no longer available. The state is now using a different computer-based system for free public health training.

One particular agency decided long ago, however, that just achieving compliance with the minimum training standards wasn’t enough. Holy Spirit EMS, located in five counties and formerly known as West Shore EMS, has been using TargetSolutions since 2002 for a reason.

“Some might ask why pay for something if you don’t have to? The reason is that TargetSolutions, for us, was actually much more economical to use,” said the agency’s Director of Staff Development Steve Poffenberger. “A huge thing for us is the availability of hazmat courses. There was no other online opportunity that could provide that refresher training. To have to provide that training in a classroom format would be very difficult and costly with the overtime and all of the things that are associated with that."

“If we call something mandatory, then it’s on our time, not their time. If it wasn’t mandatory it would be on them, but we require hazmat training. Doing it through the TargetSolutions platform via an online solution was actually economical for us.”

Steve Poffenberger, Holy Spirit EMS

In addition to the industry’s most robust catalog featuring more than 450 hours of training for fire departments, which includes the Advanced HAZWOPER training series that Poffenberger cited as a huge reason for choosing TargetSolutions, the platform also offers valuable OSHA safety training, EVO driver training, and HR harassment training. And that’s just the beginning. TargetSolutions’ powerful records management system for tracking and reporting training and compliance tasks, has been huge for Holy Spirit EMS, Poffenberger said.

“The reporting piece was also a differentiator; the ability to see who did the training,” Poffenberger said. “The fact that it was all online and in combination with those other economic reasons, it makes sense for us.”

Some emergency response organizations have relied on the PA Prepared Online Learning System in the past and are just now considering the benefits of implementing and managing their own online solution. That strategic decision can feel daunting for an agency that is accustomed to completing training the old-fashioned way.

"Some agencies are still old school in regards to education: four walls and a desk, period! But some things can be accomplished online more efficiently,” said Poffenberger, whose agency employs nearly 200 emergency responders and runs approximately 30,000 calls each year.

“Like in the case with hazmat training; the state doesn’t specify which hazmat level is required for EMS, but we make that a priority and by doing it online we can stay in tune with what’s needed.

“A couple agencies have asked me how we track all of our certifications and I’ve shared the information about TargetSolutions. There are plenty of agencies still tracking with an excel spreadsheet. But we're bigger than a lot of other agencies. If you have 20 employees on a spreadsheet, then sure. Having to track that many people is not all that time consuming, but with a much larger set of employees it is much more challenging to keep track.”

At the end of the day, moving to a cutting-edge, comprehensive training management tool like TargetSolutions is about doing more than just completing the mandatory training requirements. It’s about efficiently delivering continuing education and pre-training prior to hands-on assignments. It’s about tracking all types of compliance, from policies to licenses and certifications. It’s about making sure every single hour of training is documented and reported.

“It is becoming extremely important to be able to track and report your agency’s compliance and regulatory standards,” Poffenberger said. “To be able to provide reporting on provider certifications upon request from a reimbursement entity is a must-have for any agency. An agency’s failure to comply with these standards could result in penalties or fines.”

Fortunately, TargetSolutions is here to help make training compliance more efficient and effective. If you would like more information on how your agency can benefit from TargetSolutions, please contact us today at (800) 840-8046.

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