Hamilton County Emergency Services Moving Forward With Technology

Monday, April 7, 2014

In the past 12 months the Hamilton County Emergency Services Division of Fire training and the Division of Field Services has purchased new equipment to provide improved public safety to the citizens of Hamilton County.

Both in and out of the classroom, technology is booming in the fire service, and officials said HCES is at the cutting edge. This year HCES has added safety equipment, and firefighter evaluation tools to improve what they believe are the two most key components to emergency services – safety, and education.

HCES Fire Training took delivery of 50 Turning point technology polling and testing response cards. These response cards operate on a wireless system, and allow instructors to interact with their students in a new way. The system is comprised of a handheld “remote” that allows a student to transmit data to the presenter's computer in real time.

For example, the instructor may have a question written on a PowerPoint slide, and the students can answer that question in a multiple choice format, with real time results for the instructor. The new cards will also allow instructors to test firefighter recruits in real time.

Officials said, "ScanTron sheets that were used are now a thing of the past. There will be no more delays in between testing and receiving results. As soon as the student completes the test, he or she will receive results and know exactly where they went wrong. The instructors will be able to watch on the computer as the students test, and know immediately what questions the students are missing. The instructor can then tailor the next lecture or class to address these questions."

Purchased early this fiscal year were two new state-of-the-art Drager thermal imaging cameras. The cameras allow firefighters to see a high definition image of the thermal spectrum. This allows firefighters to see through smoke, trees, and in the water, to locate victims. The camera also allows firefighters to see heat behind walls, and in turn, decrease property damage by eliminating possibilities of where fire is located in hidden void spaces. The Drager thermal imaging cameras are also extensively used in firefighter training as they video and audio record. This feature allows the instructors to review the footage with their students to improve search and rescue, and firefighting techniques.

Two new Drager four gas monitors have been purchased to monitor atmospheric conditions on the fireground, and during hazardous materials incidents. The gas monitors measure levels of oxygen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and lower explosive limits. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide are two of the main contributors of poisoning to fire victims and firefighters. The gas monitors purchased have a lifetime warranty on the oxygen sensor, which was a cost-saving measure, as the monitors in the past would need oxygen sensors replaced every six months.

These monitors are currently deployed and being used in the field to perform sweeps of houses with suspected gas leaks, monitor carbon monoxide levels post fire to make sure that firefighters are breathing clean air, and are being used in fire training to keep firefighters safer in the training fire environment.

In coordination with the Chattanooga Fire Department, HCES has received two Massimo Rad57 Pulse Carbon Monoxide Oximeters. These devices will allow emergency workers to evaluate a patient with suspected carbon monoxide exposure. Hamilton County EMS has the ability on every ambulance to evaluate patients with their LifePack 15 monitors, and now the fire department has the ability to evaluate patients, as well. Not only will these monitors be used for public safety, but also firefighter safety.

Firefighters are as, if not more, susceptible to carbon monoxide exposure through inhalation of smoke and particulates in the air at fire scenes. The Rad57 will allow the fire department in coordination with Hamilton County EMS to evaluate firefighters on the scene and provide rapid treatment and transport if required.  

Hamilton County Emergency Services Division of Fire Training and Field Services is a support agency for the local Hamilton County fire departments, and provides training to the local volunteer fire departments and municipalities.

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