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Okeechobee County Fire & Rescue Selects OnSite ERT to Improve Personnel Safety

Ann Arbor, MI (August 12, 2010)
– It’s a problem every fire chief knows all too well: how can you keep track of all of your responders during an incident? If there is an evacuation, how can you be sure that everyone made it out? If a “missing” firefighter is actually trapped inside, you have just minutes to rescue them, but if they made it out safely but were simply overlooked in the confusion, you’re sending a rescue team on an unnecessary but extremely dangerous mission. What’s the cost of guessing wrong?

To solve their on-scene accountability problem, the Okeechobee County Fire & Rescue Department is implementing OnSite ERT™, the industry leading tracking technology from ERT Systems. The system will replace the department’s former, less reliable tools used to determine crew status and locations during emergencies.

Purchased in part with funds from an Assistance to Firefighters grant (AFG), the department will put OnSite ERT™ into service at emergency scenes starting the summer of 2010. The technology uses a combination of lightweight ID tags, portable Drop Readers and Incident Command software to offer a clear, real-time view of on-scene personnel and their current locations – all from the screen of a laptop.

“We were impressed with the OnSite ERT technology. Its ease of use and the way it automates accountability for our responders were the deciding factors in our purchase,” said Okeechobee County Fire & Rescue Training Officer Karl Holtkamp. “We are a small rural department with limited manpower and resources. With a lack of manpower it is difficult to guarantee that we can have someone stand by the front door to collect par tags.” He added, “we expect better accuracy and improved accountability when we replace our old tagging system with OnSite ERT.”

The brainchild of retired Fire Commander John Ellis and technology expert Dennis Carmichael, OnSite ERT is a portable and rapidly deployable system for tracking and monitoring first responders and equipment for the duration of an emergency event. Designed specifically to meet the unique needs of firefighters, the product is gaining traction among fire departments nationwide, already in use by over 50 departments across the US and Canada, with more on the horizon.

OnSite ERT has also proven beneficial for use in mutual-aid and combined-response events, streamlining operations, and improving post-incident reporting and performance analysis. The system tracks and records all on-scene activity, which helps departments comply with federal rules and regulations to further limit legal risks in the event of a tragedy.

“As a Chief Officer, I know how it feels to lose track of a firefighter on scene,” Ellis said. “Our goal is to make sure that never happens, and we want to eventually see every department using this technology. In the end, it’s all about safety, and with OnSite ERT, the Chief might be able to send someone home who wouldn’t have made it otherwise.”

About OnSite ERT
Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, ERT Systems, LLC offers OnSite ERT, a portable and rapidly-deployable system for tracking and locating personnel and equipment on scene at emergency events. In addition to single-department solutions, ERT Systems also offers ERT Central™, an on-line database for automatically sharing information in real time between mutual-aid partners, regional response, and remote Emergency Operations Centers. OnSite ERT is on the DHS Authorized Equipment List and is approved for grant purchase. For more information, go to www.OnSiteERT.com or call (734) 327-9532.


Media Contact: Jason Kapica, ERT Systems, 734-327-9532 or Jason@onsiteert.com

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