Transitioning from Paper to Electronic Records

Posted on March 11, 2022
Tags: EMS, Fire

If your fire department or EMS agency is still holding on to the old-school, paper-based ways of tracking incidents, equipment checks, supply levels, and even personnel records, the good news is that there’s never been a better time to make the switch to digital record management software (RMS) tools. Today’s leading Fire RMS tools have been designed specifically for first responders, by first responders, who know exactly what it’s like to get stuck in the paper trail, and what life is like on the other side.

Fire RMS tools offer departments a long list of benefits, including improved efficiencies that lead to increased response readiness and, ultimately, safer crews and communities. While some departments might dread the perceived headache of a switch, a steep learning curve, and increased costs, more and more evidence supports that the idea that switching to a digital records management system can save you time and money in the long run.

Less Redundancy

No one at the station wishes there was more busy work. Fire RMS tools can make it easier to communicate between your databases and with other agencies, cutting back on the manual data entry work. Additionally, many reports like inspections and preplans, daily apparatus checks, and maintenance can be completed in the field from a tablet, meaning information only needs to be entered once. This cuts down on wasted time and potential errors.

More Available Records

No more hauling out a giant binder of inspection records, pulling up a clunky Excel spreadsheet, or calling someone to re-fax you a missing record. Your digital records are now easily accessible by any team member with the correct credentials, from anywhere there is Wi-Fi. That means, for example, a crew can be reviewing a fire preplan on their way to an incident. Back at the station or after an incident, there’s no more searching around for missing paperwork; the information is entered, stored, and accessible in real-time.

More Secure Records

Storing data in a virtual environment is convenient and secure. Not only is hardware not taking up space in your station, your system is being maintained by an expert vendor who most likely takes extensive steps to protect their infrastructure and their clients’ data. Operating system updates are likewise handled by your vendor, meaning fewer worries about losing your historic data or messing up your setup.

Easier Insight and Reporting

Fire RMS tools also offer the added benefit of automated reporting, whether you need reports for a budget meeting, a progress update on a QI project, or historic data for a grant proposal. Additionally, some RMS tools handle submitting your required metrics for NFIRS and NEMSIS, as well as alerts for upcoming compliance deadlines. All of this keeps your station operating more smoothly by working smarter, not harder.

How to Start the Transition

Once you’ve decided it’s time to make the switch, you’re at a key crossroad. Choosing the right vendor is of utmost importance in ensuring your new system works for you, is affordable, and meets your expectations. Doing some research and referencing a helpful Fire RMS Buyer’s Guide can save you some serious hassle down the line. For example, it’s important to consider how a potential RMS provider:

  • Will provide training to your staff (in what timeframe, and in what quantity)
  • Integrates their product with your existing systems
  • Handles updates and upgrade requests (specifically when it comes to cost)
  • Supports a growing department (and potential additional users)
  • Makes support staff available to your questions and needs
  • Demonstrates ease of use in the field

Doing your homework before committing to an RMS provider can help ensure the time and money you’re investing in the switch pay off in efficiency gained in the short- and long-term.

Next-Gen Fire RMS Tools

Built on decades of service to the fire industry and a wide network of industry professionals and partners, ESO Fire RMS is a suite of software tools designed specifically to address the top complaints that fire departments have with traditional RMS tools. For example, progressive validation features easily identify errors (and stop you) as you are completing forms, while integration with other databases helps reduce data re-entry.

Reporting is simplified with support of +1 and NFIRS codes, while scheduled submissions take the hassle out of tracking national, state, and industry requirements. Additionally, clients are assigned an ESO project manager to get them up and running, including scheduling onsite training if needed.

Take a tour of the ESO Fire software suite now.