West Florence Fire Department invest in protecting firefighters

West Florence Fire Department invest in protecting firefighters

FLORENCE COUNTY, (WMBF) - Fast, accurate and real-time information during emergency calls is now being streamlined by the West Florence Fire Department. The information can help in the case of a fire, while also keeping the safety of fire crews first.

West Florence pays $400 a year to use the Salamander app. The app is an accountability system that

helps make sure every firefighter responding to a call is being used efficiently. The system also accounts when the first responders return safe and sound at the end of the day.

“It's very crucial…You've got know where your guys are at. Freelancing can get firefighters killed,” said Battalion Chief Dustin Fails with the West Florence Fire Department.

Fails said when firefighters are called to a scene, safety is the number one priority.

Each crew member is specifically trained to perform a certain task.

“That could be fighting a fire; that could be search and rescue; could be a rapid intervention team, which they would be the ones to rescue a firefighter if they go down,” Fails, said.

The job of the commanding officer is to make sure each member is accounted for the moment they arrive on scene.

“The unit would check in with their tag; we would assign them to a group,” Fails said.

But now using that same tag, which has a barcode on the back, all fire personnel are scanned using the Salamander app. 
The app allows for commanding officers to quickly and more efficiently put each firefighter where they need to be and make sure each person's individual training is being efficiently utilized.

“It takes some of the liability off the incident commander because the tag shows what they're qualified to do instead of you trying to figure out what you think I'm qualified to do,” said Mike Puckett with Florence County Emergency Management.

Information can be accessed in real time by all who have the app, even if they're miles away.

But more importantly it's helping to keep these guys more safe, especially if one of them is injured on scene.

“It provides EMS with lifesaving emergency information…when you are unable to,” Puckett said.
“It gives your resting blood pressure, your resting heart beat any medicines that you may or may not be on,” Puckett added.

Before the new system, officials had to come through paperwork and questions family members to learn about a firefighter's medical history.

First responders agree the system is worth every dime and said they think every department across the state should invest in.

“Is one hundred dollars' worth one of your firefighter's life? That's what it comes down to,” Fails said.
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