New tool could help first responders keep you safe this hurricane season

Officers learning while still patrolling
Posted at 6:04 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-15 18:04:52-04

As we enter the peak of the annual hurricane season, local police and fire departments keep their emergency response plans close by at all times. 

Now a new tool makes those plans more accessible than ever, while savings departments time and money.

Thanks to an online data system called Power DMS, several Tampa Bay Area police and fire departments are training and reviewing their hurricane plans without having to pull officers off the streets like they used to.

"If I pull a shift of 8 to 10 officers from the street, I have to back fill them, so then there's another position being left unattended while we backfill the backbone of the organization," explains Lt. Adam Geissenberger of the Pinellas Park Police Department.

Pinellas Park Police are trying out this new training method this year, and love that officers can learn in the field, stop and re-watch training videos at their own speed, while still being held accountable for watching.

"Now they sit in their car, they go out on patrol. When they have the down time they go on the computer and take care of what they need to," says Lt. Geissenberger

The system was created by someone who knows a little about hurricanes; a former Hernando County Sheriff's Office IT employee named Josh Brown now runs the company out of Orlando, and it's helping improve document-sharing in departments across the country, including several in the Tampa Bay Area, like St. Petersburg Police, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

Lt. Geissenberger says his department would have lost over 200 officer field hours just reviewing their hurricane plans if not for this new system. They also train for new procedures and policies, like how to deal with drugs on the street associated with the growing opiod epidemic.

"That's the biggest draw for us is instead of bringing you in a classroom to give you 4 hours of training that you're required to have every four years, I can do it from the car without removing the car from the street," he adds.

That's saving departments thousands of dollars, while still helping keep first responders ready to keep you safe this hurricane season.