I Had A Vision

I woke up this morning with an idea for emergency services that is already a reality.  It's funny about technology in our business; innovation driven by the private sector and the military is implemented and has probably run through four or five revisions, then we look at it and say, "Wow, this is amazing technology!" while the others have likely moved on.

I was thinking about the use of RFID, or "radio frequency identification" for you non-geeks out there.  Now while we have discussed the use of RFID for personnel accountability (which you could embed in your credential we have been beating on about over the last month and I have decided to let rest for a bit), where as you pass through a checkpoint at an incident, the RFID chip would log you in, plus pertinent data, and make it much easier to manage the locations of your valuable assets (that would be your people).

But another application that private industry and the military have used RFID for is for logistics management.  For a while I have gone on in our department about the use of bar coding to produce a reliable determination of asset location (if you can't scan the code, the item is obviously not there).  But in the case of RFID, what I was thinking is that you could have a portal- like at the bay doors- that would scan your vehicle, with all of the RFID-chipped tools and assorted equipment, and tell you what was there and what wasn't.  While you were at it, you could actually tell WHICH item it was; for example, the generator on your engine is Acme Fire Department Generator #3.  Well, Generator #3 is due for maintenance.  Or Generator #3 was swapped out at your last preventative maintenance cycle and you actually have Generator #21.  And your Maintenance/Logistics folks just happen to be looking for Generator #21 because it has to have a whatsit retrofitted.  You see where I'm going with this?  You could actually know if Engine 1 went out the door with everything on it or not.

If your department is anything like my department, and your firefighters anything like my firefighters, you are asking, "isn't this going to be expensive to replace when we break the chip?"  You all know that if you put a firefighter in an empty locked room with two ball bearings he will break one and lose the other.  Well, if this stuff is ruggedized enough for the military, it's likely that it will last at least a week in a fire station.

The sad part is, like I said, this is stuff that has been out there for a while.  But do YOU know about it?  Can you advocate for change and improvement if you don't know what kind of change and improvement we are capable of?  What other ideas do you see being used in everyday life that have an application to our jobs?

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