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When Seconds Count

Firefighters rely on TurningPoint audience response systems to prepare themselves for any emergency.

A Family Tradition 
Being a firefighter is a family affair for Tucker Dempsey. His father and grandfather proudly wore the uniform serving as the first line of defense against fires. Tucker had no doubts as he knew early on what he wanted to do with his life. 
Battling blazes for 30 years, Tucker wanted to take the next step in helping to teach the firefighters of tomorrow. He started at the Delaware State Fire School in Dover, Delaware as a part-time assistant. The job involved setting mock fires and checking to make sure trainees had air in their breathing apparatus. Teaching became a labor of love for Tucker as he set his sights on getting his instructor certification. Today, he is a full-time Training Administrator at the school and is responsible for creating and teaching training programs for firefighters around the region. 
“Students know they can do it and see their voice is being heard in real-time.” 
The Silent Battle: Anxiety of Class Participation
Classes are held for firefighters at both the fire school and on location at fire stations and industrial sites throughout the state. Even though courses took a hands-on approach to learning, participants would be reluctant to speak and share feedback on the material being presented. “It was like pulling teeth trying to get people to say anything and you would do all of the talking as an instructor,” said Dempsey. “Students were hesitate to speak up and give an answer with the fear that others would judge and think they did not have the knowledge.”
TurningPoint Audience Response Systems to the Rescue
A member of the training team attended an event in which interactive polling software and audience response clickers were utilized for in-class discussion and participant feedback. The trainer came back to Tucker and spoke highly of this technology and suggested it could be used for their courses to help stimulate engagement. A discussion with state IT personnel led them to Turning Technologies as the recommended solutions provider. The Delaware State Fire School received TurningPoint and 75 audience response clickers thanks in part to a federal grant they had applied for. 
As Tucker notes, the technology improved classroom conversation and made it easier to collect feedback. “When a firefighter gets on the scene of a fire, it’s important to decide in a split second what the problem is and with the polling software, we provide a picture of a fire and students have to make certain decisions by using the response clickers,” stated Dempsey. “We like that it gives you anonymous results where you can then lead the discussion.”
The classes themselves have not really changed, but the process of collecting feedback from students is much easier. Participants are more willing to engage in an open discussion without feeling intimated by their peers. 
Testing and Beyond 
Three years later and the Delaware State Fire School continues to depend on audience response systems for student engagement and feedback. Now, the training team is taking advantage of TurningPoint’s testing capabilities. By incorporating demographics within presentation slides, Tucker can view answers based on age, group and training level and customize instruction based off those results. 
“It’s fast in providing us the question breakdown on how many students answered the question correctly or incorrectly and which answer was chosen,” said Dempsey regarding TurningPoint. “We have the information to go back into our programs and see where we need to improve the instruction or speak with the trainer to emphasize points better.”
Time and energy is invested in the students rather than spending countless hours grading paper tests. In addition, the training team is considering certification testing through TurningPoint polling software as that alone would eliminate days of waiting for results.