The Action Training Systems Emergency Responder Blog

Using Statistics as a Tool

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Wed, October 02, 2013 @ 08:05AM

Fire Officer Training

Every day, firefighters risk their lives to save people from fires, serious accidents and other perils. But in the heat of the moment, their own safety is often the last thing on their minds, and they often fail to recognize the dangers in routine habits and daily life at the fire station. As the supervising fire officer on the front lines, protecting your team’s health and safety must be the first thing on your mind. “Watching their backs” is your most important responsibility.

In its Fire Officer I series, Action Training Systems identifies statistics as a key tool to prevent potential injury and death.

As a fire officer at the unit level, you will be leading your team into many dangerous situations. If you know and can recognize what has caused fire service injuries and fatalities in the past, you will be better able to protect your team from harm in the present.

Online Fire Training

Statistical data and current trends can offer insight into how injuries happen and what you can do to prevent them. This important information can also help you identify fire training needs and recognize hazardous situations. 


They include:Several organizations closely track firefighter injuries and deaths and provide a wealth of data online.


Fire service trade magazines and websites also report news about special hazards to firefighters.

Your own department is also a good resource for statistics and current trends, especially as they relate to your area. By studying what has happened locally, you may recognize patterns that can help you anticipate and plan ahead.

Fire TrainingFor instance, your jurisdiction may have a highly developed downtown area, and you may notice that your department has performed several elevator rescues in recent years. This information may motivate you to update your team’s elevator rescue training and review the elevator surveys of the buildings within your jurisdiction.

Proactively studying statistics on how fire service injuries and fatalities occur should be a part of your routine. It is your job to research this important information and to then translate it into a solid, effective plan of action.

Remember, they’re not “statistics” when it happens to one of your firefighters.


Tags: firefighter training, EMS training, emergency responder Training, Fire Officer

Firefighter Training - Do I HAVE to Manage Conflict?

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Fri, August 02, 2013 @ 03:00PM

Yes! As a firefighter, you learned how to put water on fires.  As a supervising fire officer, you need to become skilled at putting out a different kind of fire: conflict. Managing conflict is an essential leadership skill. You will want to learn how to manage all kinds of conflict – from petty disputes to major disagreements with the potential to derail your team’s success.


Managing conflict is an unavoidable part of any supervisor’s job. Nobody likes conflict, but suppressing disagreements only produces frustrated firefighters and unhappy fire stations.


On the other hand, a fire service officer who can confront conflict skillfully can turn it into an opportunity to help individuals grow and improve the organization.

Action Training Systems’ “Fire Officer I Series” talks about applying specific skills and characteristics to approaching conflicts constructively:

  1. A willingness to intervene
  2. The ability to model non-defensiveness
  3. Show patience
  4. Sensitivity
  5. Optimism
  6. Credibility

The first step to resolving conflict is being willing to intervene while others are still engaged in the dispute. When a conflict comes to your attention, you need to step up and offer a problem-solving approach.

The second characteristic is the ability to model non-defensiveness. Collect personal feedback from those involved without getting upset yourself or taking anything said personally. In other words, be a good listener. All of the parties involved have information you need to find a constructive solution.  


Third, you will need to show patience. Make it clear that you are not rushing to quick fixes, but working to develop an agreement on how to resolve a problem.

Fourth, show sensitivity. Show that you understand and accept the emotions that people involved express to you. Feelings of anger, fear or frustration are common.

Fifth, as the leader you must always project optimism. Even though others may be seeing things negatively, you must keep your focus on the positive results that agreement and resolution will bring.

Finally, one of the most critical characteristics for approaching conflict is maintaining credibility. Your trustworthiness is important.

  • Be good for your word.
  • Be consistently truthful and fair.
  • And remember that integrity matters.

After seeing these six characteristics for approaching conflict, spend a few moments reflecting on conflicts you’ve observed in the fire station. Mentally reviewing these experiences, how would you apply these lessons on approaching conflict? Characteristics and skills for approaching conflict are central to your success as a supervisor. You’ll find that these characteristics will serve you well every day in many situations.

Tags: firefighter training, emergency responder Training, first responder training, Fire Officer

Firefighter Training: “No-Excuses” Safety Culture

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Wed, July 24, 2013 @ 07:27AM

Fire officers and assistant fire officers need to enforce a ‘no excuses’ safety culture with regard to policies affecting firefighter safety.

                                            Fire Officer Training

Many people talk about “changing the culture” of the fire service to reduce firefighter injuries and fatalities, but what will that mean to you as a team leader? What are the characteristics of a safety culture and what are the practices for fostering it in your team?


Action Training Systems’ “Fire Officer I series” describes a safety culture as:

… a safety mindset that extends to every operation and activity – in the station, en route to emergencies, in training and in emergency response.


It means that fire officers and firefighters make safety a part of the thinking process for every potentially dangerous situation. The idea is to create an environment in which all firefighters comply routinely with safe practices and expect their colleagues to do the same.


A strong safety culture means understanding that safety protects everyone from tragedy – firefighters and the public they serve. As supervising fire officer, your job is to reinforce, refine and engrain that safety culture in your team.


Five ways you can do that include:  

  1. Training and testing.
  2. Enforce “no-excuses” compliance with safety policy and SOPs.
  3. Walk the walk. Model SOPs and safe practices at all times.
  4. Restate and re-emphasize safe practices in your communications.
  5. Record, investigate and report all accidents and firefighter close-calls.  


#1 - Training and Testing

Training is where safety starts. Classroom and hands-on training are your best opportunities to educate your team about the importance of working within the system.


You can stop firefighters from acquiring bad habits in training by reinforcing or correcting their behavior.


Be sure that firefighters understand the dangers of deviating from established procedure. Also, discuss how your department's SOPs will counteract a potential hazard. Training is your firefighters’ best defense against accident or injury. But keep in mind that training in itself can be dangerous.


The U.S. Fire Administration reports that almost 10% of firefighter injuries and fatalities occur while training.


#2 - Enforce “No-Excuses” Compliance with Safety Policy

You’re not going to be liked for this, but when you accept the promotion to fire officer, this comes with the job. You’re expected to enforce safety policy regardless of who likes you or doesn’t like you. If firefighters resist the directive, explain why the policy is important. They have a right to disagree with it, but they must comply. If firefighters truly believe a practice is wrong, they must go through proper channels to implement a change.


#3 - Walk the Walk

You should know your department’s SOPs like the back of your hand and model safe practices at all times. Don’t take shortcuts, even if resources are limited.



#4 - Restate and Reemphasize Safety in Communications

Remind firefighters of safe practices on scene and in your radio commands when necessary.


#5 - Investigate and Report All Accidents and Near-Misses.

If an injury does occur, whether on the training ground or during an incident, follow your department's SOPs for reporting the accident. You should be prepared to help in the investigation and generate formal documents that explain your findings. By following SOPs, you’ll help your department respond to a possible time-loss claim and contribute to its wider knowledge about accidents to improve training, command and operations.


Encourage firefighters to discuss their “near-misses” as well. A near-miss is an unintentionally unsafe occurrence that probably would have resulted in serious injury or death had there not been a lucky break in the chain of events. The National Fire fighter Near-Miss Reporting System is a voluntary, confidential online reporting system that collects national data on near-misses with the goal of improving firefighter safety.


By sharing information about your near-misses though this system, you may save other firefighters’ lives. Enforcing safety and creating a safety culture isn’t easy. But on your most difficult days, it may help to remind yourself and your firefighters that you do it not just for their sake, but for the people they’ll go home to at the end of the day.


Firefighting is one of the world's most dangerous professions. Firefighters get hurt and killed in many unpredictable situations, but most of the fatalities are predictable and preventable. It behooves you to foster a culture in which your team supports safety as a matter of competence.


As company officer, you, more than any other member of the department, can save firefighters and their families from needless pain and suffering and ensure that everybody goes home.

Tags: Fire training, Industrial training, Fire Officer

10 Tips for Fire & EMS Instructors to Engage Students

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Fri, June 28, 2013 @ 11:33AM

Classroom Fire Training & EMS Training Tips

Make learning easier by using some of these tips. Even if you are able to get your students’ attention in the classroom, you want them to retain the information you provide and use it in hands-on training and out in the field.

1. Learner Preparation

Preparing the learner ahead of time has been proven to significantly increase learning readiness, assimilation, thinking and recall time. For example, give your students access to ATS Online courses relating to the course material you plan to cover in your classroom training session the next day.

2. Repetition

Habits, beliefs, values and self-image are all learned through repetition. Repeat key points throughout your presentation. Look for creative ways to revisit the same point; - simply saying the same thing over and over again can be frustrating for students.

3. Inside Scoop

Once you’ve got their immediate attention, give learners the inside scoop on something. Relate your topic of the day to a scenario that has happened close to home.

4. Personal Experience

Support the point you're making with first-hand experience. This not only enhances your credibility with the audience, but also proves your knowledge of the subject.

5. Questioning Techniques

Your audience will remember less than 30 percent of the sentences they hear during your presentation, but they will remember more than 85 percent of the questions you ask. By asking questions, you deepen the learner’s understanding and conviction. The best questions are ones that get your students thinking, shock them to attention or get their agreement. Check out ATS Interactive training courses or ATS question files to help with question ideas relating to specific Fire & EMS subject matter.

6. Startling Statistics

Numbers and statistics can lose your audience quicker than anything else. By using numbers carefully you can not only prove your point, but also surprise your class. Present only the numbers and statistics that are necessary to make your point. Where possible, round to the nearest whole number. Graphs and charts should be simple. Detailed calculations should be provided on a handout.

7. Analogies & Metaphors

The more complex your subject, the more important it is to use analogies and metaphors. Know your audience! Using a complex analogy to support complex material can be frustrating. Your words matter. If you are presenting something complex, simplify it with a metaphor.

8. Be Brief & Finish Early

People once had the attention span to sit and listen for much longer stretches than we do today. Now that we can get information more quickly, that amount of time is rapidly decreasing. Limit your subject content to approximately 20 minutes. If you plan to train for longer, break up the segments and compliment your audience by finishing up 5 minutes early.

9. Humor

Humor can be one of the most effective attention-getting techniques when used naturally and appropriately. Humor keeps the audience alert and awake. Laughter triggers the release of adrenaline and increases long-term retention of information. Humor makes audiences more relaxed, responsive and creative.

10. Each One Teach One

Learners are people with whole lives. They will relate to you on an emotional level if you care for them as individuals. They will also appreciate the opportunity to relate to each other. Give them time to talk with one another about what they are learning and experiencing.

Tags: Fire training, firefighter training, EMS training, emergency responder Training

Why is Fire & EMS Training so HOT?

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Tue, May 28, 2013 @ 01:24PM

Firefighter Training OnlineOnline learning is HOT and for a very good reason. Many departments and organizations around the world are turning to online training/learning as a way to decrease costs and improve the learners performance. Also, unlike a one-time classroom session, the online learning course is available to be accessed anywhere and can be reviewed a number of times to enhance the learners comprehension.

Many fire departments and EMS organizations are turning to online learning as a means to supplement their classroom training. Now, it is very important you understand that online training is not meant to replace hands on training, but simply be used as a tool to train students in addition to hands on and classroom learning. You can easily have your students login in from home and review or study material before coming to your weekly training night or before drills, so that the material to be covered is already fresh in their mind.

ATS online learning Supports your department/organization’s training goals

Improved training costs – Producing learning content is time consuming whether it’s online or not. With ATS Online learning, our course content is based on national standards and designed to follow training manuals by IFSTA/FPP and Brady/Pearson Publishing. With ATS Online, each time a course is accessed your return on investment improves because you are not limited by a classroom environment which means savings through decreased travel, reduced materials and improved (and more efficient) performance.

Increased productivity - Since ATS online is not bound by geography or time you can have control over when you want your students to take courses…during down time at the station or on their own at home . In addition, with the state of the current economy, we are continually being asked to do more with less. So ATS online is a great way to give students the tools and skills necessary to enhance their performance.

Standardization - Although you are an excellent training officer/course facilitator, there is no guarantee that the course material will be presented the same across all sessions. ATS online allows you to create a process where learning is standardized across sessions. With ATS online there will be consistency in delivery and content.

ATS online supports learner development

Improved retention - The combination of our high quality media and instructional design produces a very rich learning experience. With our interactive courses, quizzes and tests are available to help your learners retain the course content and better prepare them for hands on training and real world scenarios.

Real-time access - Live learning doesn’t allow for much flexibility. ATS online eliminates this because courses can be accessed anywhere, anytime on any computer or mobile device such as an ipad or smartphone.

Personalized Learning - ATS online allows you the freedom to customize your emergency response training to meet your goals for the day, week or year. You can purchase access to specific courses for a select number of learners based on your personal department/organizational need. This allow you control that you would not have in a classroom learning environment.

Ongoing access to courses/resources - If you take a class in the real world and need a refresher, you better hope that you took good notes. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. That’s not the case with ATS online. Ideally, you continue to have access to the online content and resources to brush up on what you learned and have the opportunity to share information as well.

A few questions to ask yourself: What are your goals for your emergency response training? What type of training are you currently using? Are you completely satisfied with your current fire training or EMS training program? Is it efficient, without sacficing the quality of content and learner comprehension?

Tags: Fire training, firefighter training, EMS training, Industrial training, emergency responder Training, first responder training

Action Training Systems Wins 2 Aurora Awards for Training Programs

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Mon, March 11, 2013 @ 02:24PM

We are proud to announce that we have recently been awarded Aurora awards for our new Infection Control & Prevention Series as well as our Vehicle Extrication series. 

The Aurora Awards is an international competition designed to recognize excellence in the film and video industries. It specifically targets products, programs and commercials that would not normally have the opportunity to compete on a national level, by focusing on non-national commercials, regional or special interest entertainment and corporate sponsored film and video. Entries have come from across the US, and abroad (such as Russia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Germany, Australia and Mexico).

Action Training Systems’ 3-title Infection Control & Prevention series provides a systematic understanding of bloodborne, airborne, and other diseases of concern to emergency responders. These programs demonstrate how to minimize or prevent the spread of diseases through proper precautions and infection control practices and how to mitigate an exposure to communicable diseases. As a series, it provides a comprehensive framework to help instructors fulfill initial and annual infectious diseases training requirements.

The Vehicle Extrication series includes 10 training programs that teach to the current National Fire Protection Association standards, including NFPA 1001: Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications, NFPA 1006: Standard for Technical Rescuer Professional Qualifications and NFPA 1670: Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents. The programs cover step-by-step extrication evolutions, basic operational procedures and knowledge of tools and techniques used to complete an efficient and effective extrication.

For information on these and others titles by Action Training Systems, please visit our website at or call 800-755-1440 ext 3

Aurora Award resized 600

Tags: Fire training, firefighter training, EMS training, vehicle extrication training, emergency responder Training, first responder training

Most Common Mistakes when Applying for the AFG Grant

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Tue, May 22, 2012 @ 01:30PM

Most Common Mistakes when Applying for the AFG Grant 

1.Failure to read the program guidance 

2. Failure to take advantage of the help desk or the get ready guides

    Help Desk Phone number is 866.247.0960

3. Failure to proof read your application, do not insert place holders in the application

4. Inserting false numbers or inforation into your application. Make sure all info is correct

    You are responsible for all information in your grant, even if it is entered by a grant writer

5. Be weary of template narratives. The reviewers want to hear "your" story.

6. Don’t use brand names of products but do include the description of product 

7. Do not request more PPE than the number of personnel in your department

8. Failing to list the age of SCBA’s to be replaced

9. EMS trained to BLS level asking for ALS equipment. Make sure to only apply for equipment      that your staff are "currently" trainined to use. 

Tags: Fire training, emergency responder Training, first responder training, AFG Grants Info

FEMA's AFG Grant Program : Top 10 Best Practices

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Thu, May 03, 2012 @ 02:52PM

Do you need money for your fire training program?

Although the 2012 Grant period is not open yet, we wanted to get you thinking about and preparing for the upcoming year's AFG grant application period.

Below are a list of Top 10 Best Pratices as stated in the FEMA grant semiar at FDIC 2012

  1. Start preparing early & read the 2012 program guidance
  2. Align your departments “needs” assessment with current funding priorities
  3. Tell your departments story
  4. Read each question carefully, then answer the question
  5. Have the application read by someone else before submitting
  6. Submit your application before the deadline, a day early or a week early if possible. Just don’t wait until the last minute.
  7. Make sure to include all eligible cost as part of your application (EHP review, state taxes, vehicle performance bonds)
  8. Make sure your project can and will be done within your grant period of performance
  9. Have your bid specifications ready when you receive your award (be proactive)
  10. Ensure you will have the support of your local government leaders

Bonus : Call the AFG help desk with any questions 866.247.0960

2012 AFG Workshop Schedule 


Tags: Fire training, firefighter training, emergency responder Training, AFG Grants Info

“BURN” Documentary Spotlights Abandoned Building Controversy

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Fri, April 27, 2012 @ 09:58AM

“BURN” Documentary Spotlights Abandoned Building Controversy

The documentary that many believed would never be finished finally premiered this week.

BURN: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit first premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Tuesday with more film dates scheduled throughout the week. 

The newest trailer for the documentary recently played at FDIC, where Director/Producers Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez lead a Q& A about the film. Famed actor and “Rescue Me” star Denis Leary also contributed to the documentary as executive producer along with Jim Serpico, who co-founded the production company Apostle with Leary.

Putman and Sanchez followed the members of Engine Company 50 on Detroit’s East Side as they served their community. They used helmet-mounted cameras to see from the perspective of the firefighters as they put their lives on the line, but the most interesting part of the story is told through the interviews with crew members.

As you get to know the crew, you see how they deal with the problems common to all fire departments, but on an extreme scale that is no longer sustainable. Despite the bleak odds in as fire calls increase and budgets decrease, the message of the documentary is clear: the community keeps Detroit strong, and that is always worth saving.

Detroit has one of the highest reported arson rates per capita in the country. Firefighter Frank Dombrowski was quoted in the documentary’s trailer saying, “Ninety-five percent of what I do is arson… very rarely do we have a legitimate fire.”

This isn’t surprising considering the high number of foreclosed and abandoned homes in the Motor City area.

This issue also made national headlines earlier this week when Detroit’s Executive Fire Commissioner Donald Austin said that allowing abandoned buildings to burn to the ground is one option to consider in the face of a 15% budget cut.

The proposed plan would allow some vacant buildings to burn if they're more than 50% consumed, but only if the fire does not threaten inhabited structures and weather conditions are favorable. These structures often cost more to tear down or salvage than they are worth, so allowing them to burn may be an affordable, albeit desperate, solution.

This idea raises controversy because many abandoned homes and buildings may be providing shelter to homeless individuals or even families. However, abandoned structures pose a greater risk to firefighters because they are often left in dilapidated conditions with a higher chance of collapse.

The case of Walter P. Harris, a 17-year veteran for the Detroit Fire Department who was killed when the roof collapsed during an abandoned house fire in November of 2008, exemplified this risk in the documentary’s extended trailer. The fire that killed Harris was also reported as intentionally set.

To learn more about the BURN documentary or make a tax-deductible donation to the project, visit the Official Burn website at .

What do you think of the documentary? Should fire departments allow abandoned buildings burn to cut costs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

Tags: firefighter training, emergency responder Training, first responder training

Discouraged because your 2011 AFG training request was denied?

Posted by Elise Andreasen on Wed, April 11, 2012 @ 01:27PM

Are you discouraged because your 2011 AFG training request was denied?

Don’t give up! Grant funding for training projects is not dead.

Many fire departments are frustrated that they were not awarded a training grant for 2011 and may not apply for training this year, or not apply at all.  If your department has a training, equipment or apparatus need, we urge you to keep trying!  

Action Training Systems has some tips to help you successfully ask for training in 2012.

1)Make sure your training request matches the grant priorities.

The 2011 AFG Program Guidance for training states: “In implementing the fire service’s recommendations concerning AFG, DHS has determined that the most benefit is derived from training that is instructor-led and hands-on and that leads to a nationally sanctioned or State certification. Therefore, applications focused on national or State certification training, including train-the-trainer initiatives, will receive a higher competitive rating.”

Nearly every successful AFG funded training project demonstrated in the request that the program outlined was instructor led, incorporated evaluation and testing, and led to student certification upon completion.

To be successful, you must outline your entire training program, not just training materials you need to carry out that program.

You must show how your certified instructor will use the requested training materials as part of a program that includes getting students in the classroom seats and delivering quality hands-on training leading to certification.  

The AFG reviewers like to see that you have a training plan, not a wish list.  You must indicate how trainees will be evaluated and tested in your program to demonstrate their competency.

Action Training Systems offers several instructional aids that are necessary to meet the goals of developing effective emergency responder training.  These include instructional DVDs and CBTs to complement instructor led Firefighter I/II, Driver Operator, HAZMAT Awareness, HAZMAT Operations and EMS course delivery; PowerPoint programs for all levels of firefighter and emergency responder training; a full line of IFSTA manuals and student workbooks necessary for effective delivery; Brady/Pearson EMS books and, a comprehensive test-generating program for student applications and evaluations.

Successful AFG awards, especially those for training, require planning thought and preparation. 

Action Training Systems has over 24 years of experience in developing courses for emergency responders.  Action Training Systems has a key understanding of the industry, the adult learner and of instructional design, placing our programs at a superior advantage over other training products in the market.

Action Training Systems has aided thousands of fire departments worldwide in meeting their training needs.  Contact our expert technical staff at 1-800-755-1440 for your training support needs. 

Tags: Fire training, firefighter training, EMS training, emergency responder Training, first responder training, AFG Grants Info