Thursday, October 4th, 2012 9:10 am
By Rob Evans
For Firefighting In Canada
There has been considerable debate in the fire service about the use of technology in the fire hall, on the trucks, and, in particular, at incidents. While many departments are making use of smartphones and social media, the 36-member Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) in Alberta and its volunteer members have combined internal expertise with innovation to create apps for iPads and other devices that are helping them do their jobs better.
As is the case in many Canadian departments, RMES started using bag phones – those bulky cellphones – on its rescue truck in the mid-1990s; these were added to the first-out engine early in the new millennium. The importance of having cellular communication on scene when dealing with sensitive issues has been immeasurable: being able to phone dispatchers to explain requirements and requests without tying up radios on scene has been helpful both to command and to those who need to talk to command.
BlackBerrys were introduced in the department for the chief, deputy chief and chief training officer in 2009 and enabled instant communication through e-mail, text messages or BlackBerry Messenger – instead of having to wait until evening to check e-mails at home. Many of the younger members of the department were using iPhones and officers quickly recognized the benefits of these smartphones for crews on scene. The many apps available to fire and medical personnel, video and audio recording features and high-resolution still cameras on these phones added a whole new dimension to responders’ toolboxes.