Advanced Firefighting and EMS Equipment Mandate Advanced Systems

By Frank R. Myers

Technological advances have brought us much more sophisticated firefighting apparatuses and emergency medical service (EMS) equipment. In turn, this requires state-of-the-art systems to make sure everything is working right. Achieving accountability through standard operating guidelines (SOGs) will help ensure that nothing is missed. 

So, how do you make sure your SOGs are up to snuff?

Ever since we began integrating more electronics into our apparatus, switching in/switching out electronic components has become a major part of vehicle inspections, especially when tracking down problems in complex systems. 

Optimistically, we hope to have these complex electronic parts available in our repair facilities. If not, we are behind the times and need to change. Hopefully, the vehicle will still be drivable!

Even though we can get great diagnostic information from today’s Fire & EMS software, the morning inspection is still the bedrock of inventory accountability. 

Drivers need to be intimately familiar with the ins and outs of what their displays are telling them; if an alert pops up, it needs to be reported immediately to ensure full functionality of the apparatus.

Not only are fire apparatus becoming more complex, but the equipment we carry in some circumstances, such as EMS and hazmat, has also changed to incorporate more technology. 

Advanced patient diagnostic equipment has seen many changes, not only for treatment, but the way we transmit the information to the corresponding healthcare facilities.

Atmospheric monitoring equipment, hazmat meters, and so on have all become better and more complex. This allows for more decisive actions in the field, and a reliable account of the incident can be provided with as much detail as possible.  For most departments, EMS personnel have adopted the practice of patient reporting on tablets. 

A tap on a screen addresses such important information as drug references, protocols, algorithms, and anatomical diagrams to pinpoint where injuries are located. 

As we make entries of our treatments, the narratives are automatically generated and, are therefore less likely to have human errors like misspellings and ensure that treatments match up with protocols. If your teams are adhering to best practices in this way, you’ll reduce the chance of liability, and much more importantly, you’ll make incident response safer for teams and victims.

In fact, what technology has done is given life back to the officers in charge on emergency units. The days of the handwritten report, to be entered later on a desktop computer back in the office/station, have disappeared. 

We now send out the report by a tablet or other mobile device once the alarm response has ended and we return to quarters or service. 

There is also a legible report at the emergency room/healthcare facility for triage or transfer of care.

As these advancements continue and the rate information changes, we must update, edit, and/or change the SOGs rapidly (with proper confirmation from those making the decisions). 

We cannot wait for a new “policy” to be printed and have it inserted into our manuals. Being able to send out the necessary changes and updates across the entire platform is crucial to ensuring that everyone is on the same page and understands what is happening during incident responses.

Since systems have become more complex, affecting everything across the board, so has the way that we need to check them. More detailed information must be added to the checklists. 

Because of this, we need to ensure that nothing is missed! No longer can we depend on handwritten entries. 

Teams need checklist and inspection software. We also need to change the checklists or SOGs as new equipment/gear is changed or updated.

The fire service has been traditionally slower in advancements than other industries, but times are changing, and more and more stations and teams are relying on software solutions to help handle everyday tasks like checks and inspections.

Frank R. Myers is a lieutenant (Ret.) with the Miami (FL) Fire Rescue (MFR), where he served 32 years. Before his retirement, he served at the MFR’s training center for six years as the driver-engineer instructor. Myers now serves as a senior advisor for, a software platform that helps fire departments streamline and automate their apparatus, equipment, and narcotics programs. Myers can be reached at [email protected].