Santa Monica Fire Department uses revolutionary software for emergency incidents

By Kamala Kirk

Tablet Command is an innovative incident management and response software that was created by two firefighters.

After witnessing two tragic line-of-duty deaths in their own department, Bay Area firefighters Andy Bozzo and Will Pigeon came up with the idea to create Tablet Command (TC), a game-changing incident management and response software that is now being used by hundreds of fire departments and tens of thousands of first responders in the U.S. and Canada, including the Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD).

“We purchased Tablet Command after using it in a demonstration mode for a few months,” said Tom Clemo, SMFD chief. “We were looking for a more accurate and timely system for the tracking of resources and personnel on incident scenes. After using a few products and speaking with the developers, it was clear that Tablet Command would work well for us now, and their development path was headed in a direction we were very excited about.”

The previous tragedy highlighted a problem that emergency services around the globe experience on a daily basis: during the chaos and confusion of the first moments of an emergency, it’s very difficult to track the tasks and whereabouts of arriving responders — much of this is still being done by pencil and paper.

“The app on the phone is a real-time display of incident activity and units assigned, this gives all of our personnel an idea of the call load in the city,” Clemo said. “The desktop and iPad versions are also an excellent situational awareness tool, but has added features of incident management. Once a call is received, the units assigned to that call are dropped into a management screen and it is as simple as Tap, Drag and Assign. When an incident is rapidly evolving, this is a much more efficient means of managing the units and it becomes nearly impossible to ‘lose’ units on hectic calls. Additionally, the embedded map displays the exact location of all assigned units to the incident and the personnel assigned to that unit, greatly increasing firefighter accountability.”

Clemo provided an example
of an incident that occurred on the north side of town that emphasized the use of all their technology tools. It was a two-alarm fire that required the extensive tracking of both SMFD and LA City Fire Resources.

“Additionally, we have access to the SPPD Drone imagery that has thermal-imaging capability,” Clemo said. “This allowed our incident commander to see hot spots in the roof structure indicating a significant fire in the attic. The incident commander was able to see his crews from the air and the thermal image, as well as track them electronically using TC. Ultimately, the application has increased our chief officer’s level of accountability of units and personnel assigned to complex, multi-unit incidents.”

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