If you’ve been thinking of deploying incident management software in your department, here are six key questions you need to consider before making the leap:
1. Is it mobile?
Having the ability to track an incident from the very first seconds of dispatch from ALL of your devices is key to faster response times and higher situational awareness not just for the IC but for everyone in the department.
2. Does it automate my existing processes?
One physically CAN’T write down resources fast enough to scale with an incident that grows like wildfire (pun intended). An incident command solution that doesn’t integrate with your computer aided dispatch system won’t get you much farther than your yellow pad does now.
3. Will it save me steps?
Incident Commanders have driven around in what amounts to an office on wheels, well equipped with paper tactical tools. Chiefs suffer significant pain to update these paper systems. Any incident management software solution worth it’s salt will provide incident-specific templates and pre-set checklists that allow an IC to quickly assign and deploy units for faster incident engagement. It will also provide cloud-based back end that will let you update these resources across all users instantly.
4. Does it support the pre-arrival incident management process?
Push notifications that send incident details to your mobile device, and support turn-by-turn navigation to the incident should be a part of any incident management software. Add custom GIS map layers and you will be hard pressed to find another department with a more sophisticated response strategy.
5. Does it create a historical record of actions on an incident?
Immediate after action review can help crews get more proficient and operate with higher margins of safety during emergencies. Think NFL quarterback reviewing his most recent set of downs on the sidelines, then making adjustments on the fly. Occupational athletes like firefighters need this too.
6. Will it preserve critical radio bandwidth?
Radio bandwidth is like gold during emergencies. Listen analytically to recordings of past incidents and you’ll find that much of the radio traffic could be eliminated if paper systems were replaced with digital.
The ultimate question is: “Will I use this software every day?” If the answer to that question is no, then you haven’t found your winner yet. Keep looking.
And do keep looking. When incidents go wrong or grow quickly, it’s so easy for an IC to fall behind. In the worst of these cases, first responders can become the victims.
To operate at our best we need tools and systems that can keep up. Making the migration away from paper systems and into digital is the first step to bringing the heart of your departments response systems into the 21st century. You deserve that and your public deserves that.