When the Pelham Fire Department in Alabama first decided to implement a digital dashboard, they went with a do-it-yourself platform. It wasn’t long before they realized what a difference professional help from First Arriving could make.
“I tried doing it on my own,” says EMS Director Matt Maples. “It obviously didn’t have the professional appearance that your company offers, and it was a lot of legwork on my end to maintain it.”
It also didn’t incorporate the integrations they have now, such as Aladtec and Active911. “It was very limited,” he adds. The low level of function and high investment of work weren’t cutting it for the department.
Pelham, a suburb of the Birmingham metro area, is a bedroom community with a population of about 24,000. The fire department has five fire stations and an all-career force of about 80 personnel providing fire and EMS response.
With support from the deputy chief and the fire chief, Maples initiated the department’s change to Digital Dashboards by First Arriving. “I basically just did some internet research and that’s how I came across you guys,” he says. He was sold by First Arriving’s online details showing how the dashboard looks in a fire station and its capabilities. He also recognized First Arriving as a company serving another department in the area, and thereby knew it by reputation.
Now that they have a professional dashboard system installed, it is addressing the department’s needs. “The main reason was for the communication side of it,” Maples says.
Personnel do not always see or remember communications distributed via email, or may not be able to check it often enough to stay up to date, he notes. “We needed some kind of secondary notification system, and we realized this was going to be the best option for our department,” Maples says.
They are now seeing that difference in communication, he says. And while feature integration was not their top priority, many Pelham personnel name integrations as their favorite aspects of the system, Maples says, such as seeing scheduling at a glance and having Active911 popping up with each call. The side benefit to those features, Maples notes, is that they keep people engaged with the system, which helps them catch the communications for which the department installed it.
“I think having all the additional features attracts people to pay more attention,” he says. The system has also proven even simpler to manage than Maples anticipated. His one big surprise, he says, was just how easy it was to get it going.
“It’s a one hundred percent ready-to-go product as soon as you plug it in,” he says. “It was working right out of the gate, which made my life a lot easier. When I was trying to do it myself there were so many steps I had to do to get it going.”
Maples had seven dashboards to install, he says, and was able to knock them all out in a short amount of time.
As he added additional features to their system, Maples notes, he could always rely on the provided instructional aids and correspondence with First Arriving staff to walk him through the process. He advises other customers to reach out whenever needed for support. ‘They hold your hand the whole way through.”
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