As a training ground for community college EMS students, Fort Mill (SC) EMS has always had a steady flow of new faces. However, since the COVID-19 crisis hit, even more new people have offered up their services to the combination paid/volunteer organization—raising the challenge of tracking everyone’s qualifications, says Deputy Chief Bill Moran.

Out of the department’s 50 members, about 20 are new to the organization within the last several months.

“We have a lot of volunteers and people new to EMS,” he says. “One way things were kind of disjointed with new people coming in, was the crew wouldn’t necessarily know where they were in their progression.”

That was one of the main reasons Fort Mill EMS implemented Digital Dashboards by First Arriving, Moran says. Email notifications weren’t easy to remember or to refer to, and they needed something more effective.

“So we put up a member status board,” he says, “and if there’s any question they can just watch the display.” That helps everyone keep track of the status of the new members—including the new members themselves, who don’t always understand whether they are qualified to drive or not, etc.

“That was really an issue for us,” Moran says, “and I don’t get the same sort of confusion from folks that I used to, because people are now referencing the board. It’s sort of enforcing some things that I think before would have slipped through.”

Now that they have a dashboard system in place, it helps attract new members even more, Moran added. “With new people coming in, we show them all the things we’re doing and that’s one of the things that they look at, and they think it’s pretty cool,” he says.

Moran first learned of digital dashboards when he saw them introduced at the Hyattsville (MD) Volunteer Fire Department. He saw that they could really help, he says, and convinced his chief to roll them out as well.

Since implementing the dashboards about a year ago at Fort Mill’s two EMS stations and administration facility, he’s been working to optimize them from how he saw Hyattsville using the system to how it best works for them. “We’ve been kind of evolving and tweaking it as we go along,” he says.

The organization also finds the dashboards especially effective for pushing out reminders to renew paramedic cards, posting meeting information, and announcing training topics. Their future plans include integrating a scheduling tool, as well as making use of a new video feature to run training videos.

“The main thing is distribution of information,” Moran says. “I see a difference, especially regarding new members.”

Aside from seeking out dashboards that could run Google Sheets and Google Slides, Fort Mill EMS also chose dashboards by First Arriving for their integration with Active 911. “I think that was more of a ‘Wow’ feature, but everybody loves the fact that the calls come in and it shows the mapping and everything,” he says.

“In fact, I noticed the other day that when the Active 911 goes off, people don’t even reach for their phones now. They just look at the dashboard. So, it’s definitely working.”

Implementation was smooth, Moran says, with the organization’s chief implementing one dashboard first, as a test, and then quickly adding more once he saw the value. It also helped that no technical background was required,” Moran adds. “You really don’t have to know anything.”

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