When you think of fire and EMS training, what do you imagine? Perhaps you picture firefighters in heavy gear running drills or EMS personnel giving CPR to plastic mannequins.
While these skill training sessions are incredibly important, they aren’t the only training that’s essential for fire and EMS personnel. Courses on topics such as building construction or hazmat awareness for firefighters and clinical decision-making or infectious disease control for EMS personnel are crucial training components for new and current members of the team.
Traditionally, much of this learning has happened in a classroom, with instructors giving lectures in front of PowerPoints or slideshows. However, as technology has advanced, more and more of this training has been conducted online.
Blended learning models, where some instruction is given in person and the rest is delivered online, has gradually become more popular amongst fire and EMS departments over the last two decades. More recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a true necessity for many organizations, with many public schools and universities adopting this format, in addition to trade schools and training programs for the public safety industry.
This blended learning format has been key for fire and EMS departments, which have essential skills training that must happen in person, but other training that can, and should, be done online.
As a result of health and safety concerns due to the pandemic, agencies have rapidly adapted and expanded their use of online training courses, as well as adopting new solutions that facilitate these new blended learning programs.
Once an agency decides to implement a blended learning model, the next step is ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed. Beyond the courses themselves, fire and EMS departments need a platform to host and record the completion of these essential trainings.
The Vector Learning Management System (LMS), formerly known as TargetSolutions, is the most commonly used training management system in fire and EMS . Built with unique features and functionality to fit the training needs of the public safety industry, it provides one place for all training needs—from assigning, tracking, and reporting on course completions, to tracking license and credential requirements, to identifying employee skill gaps.
In a time when many agencies are facing unprecedented staffing shortages, a solution that streamlines and simplifies training-related administrative tasks is invaluable and can help save precious time that needs to be devoted to more complex or pressing tasks.
In addition to the previously mentioned benefits of the Vector LMS training platform, fire and EMS agencies can also leverage:
Vector Solutions also offers its own library of training courses, with over 450 hours of training for fire departments based on National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) codes and standards, and 250 hours of accredited EMS continuing education.
By keeping online training courses, records, credentials, and reports all in one place, Vector LMS drastically reduces manual tasks relating to record keeping and reporting for training purposes, while also ensuring compliance and reducing wasted time and resources.
Using Vector Scheduling to track staffing schedules and automate overtime helps the Center ensure they have the right dispatchers on the lines at the right times. St. Joseph 911 is expecting to grow even more in the near future, bringing on additional dispatchers. With Vector Scheduling, the Center is ready to scale, using the software’s agency-based rules and automation to do the heavy lifting.
As previously discussed, fire and EMS departments require a blended approach to training due to the importance of live skills training. With Vector LMS, agencies can track, monitor, and report on their online training, but what about the training that happens in the field?
That’s where Vector Evaluations+ comes in. As an extension of the Vector LMS platform, Evaluations+ offers a customizable application for managing skill sheets, measuring competencies in key areas, and digitizing in-field evaluations.
Through the app, instructors can fill out evaluation forms, capture a video recording of an individual’s performance, sign off on the evaluation via eSignatures, and then store the assessment in the LMS training management system to keep all training records in one place. Files can then be reviewed, commented on, and reported on—without the time-consuming manual pen-and-paper methods.
Beyond the benefit to instructors and evaluators, the ability to make a recording of the training within the app also benefits trainees by allowing them to see their own performance and potential areas of improvement.
Other key features of Vector Evaluations+ include:
While live skills courses will always be an essential component of fire and EMS training programs, agencies are increasingly utilizing online learning to supplement and support in-person training.
Many instructors make use of a “pre-course” model, in which trainees watch videos or presentations on a topic prior to an in-person class, reducing the in-field time for these training sessions and improving overall comprehension.
By offering portions of the lesson online, it encourages trainees to learn at their own pace and spend as much time as they need to truly understand the material. For departments primarily staffed by volunteer firefighters, blended training models also offer additional flexibility, allowing trainees to fit their online courses in between other work or familial commitments.
This flexibility is especially important when staffing needs are more critical than ever, acting as a recruiting and retention tool for many departments. New recruits, many of whom have grown very accustomed to online learning formats throughout their public and continuing education experiences, greatly appreciate this style of training.
The bottom line is that when properly supported by the right tools and technology, like Vector LMS and Evaluations+, blended learning formats are ideal for today’s fire and EMS departments and allow them to tackle the ever evolving challenges of the public safety industry.