International Falls Fire Joins Family of Aladtec Users in Minnesota's Northland

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Change to staggered shifts prompts fire-EMS agency to integrate cloud-based tools

International Falls Fire Department apparatus

We run three major softwares up here between the fire, the ambulance, and the housing stuff, so by eliminating (one platform), we'll be saving quite a bit of money.-- Chief Adam Mannausau

A recent decision to change from two- to three staggered 12--hour shifts for International Falls Fire Department firefighters, paramedics and EMTs prompted officials to add web-based software that puts real-time schedules and communication tools on every staff member's smartphone.

The application, labeled "software-as-a-service," in computer parlance, streamlines the process managers use to build complicated schedules. It uses e-mail and texting tools to allow employees to trade shifts, request time-off, and be notified of open shifts anywhere they have phone- or internet connectivity.

Several other public safety agencies across the Northland also use the Aladtec program -- the same name as the company that designed it.

"We increased our staffing -- our assigned shifts at the fire hall -- from one shift a day, so an average of 30 shifts a month, to three shifts a day averaging, 90 shifts a month," said Adam Mannausau, International Falls Fire Chief, EMS director and housing inspector. "It's a big scheduling change for our people and just the ability to be able to look up, online or on their phones, to be able to see the schedule and what they're doing has been good."

Although Mannausau said the program, which costs a few dollars per member monthly, hasn't yielded any savings yet, he expects it will eventually save administrative time. It will also allow the department to eliminate another software program.

"We run three major softwares up here between the fire, the ambulance, and the housing stuff, so by eliminating (one platform), we'll be saving quite a bit of money," said Mannausau.

Nashwauk Ambulance was the first service in the region to implement cloud-based scheduling 11 years ago. Service coordinator Karen Calaguire had grown weary of paid volunteers having to call in or visit their station to determine whether they were on-call.

She'd heard about Aladtec through web searches and ads in public safety magazines, so she tried a demonstration on the company’s website.

"As manager, I needed to find a way to make scheduling as easy and painless as possible for my employees. The scheduling process should be viewable and usable from the comfort of their home or on the go from their smartphones. I was looking for a user-friendly and clutter-free system that had add-ons, allowing me to track employee scheduling and other data," she said several years ago. "Pricing was also a factor."

The program also allows agencies to build and host electronic forms for documentation of daily station routines like ambulance drug inventories, apparatus equipment and mechanical checks. Administrators can also track staff members' licenses and certifications, upload files that members can access remotely, and send out text- and e-mail notifications to individuals or groups when the need arises to fill an open shift or staff a special event.

Chisholm Ambulance Assoc. has been an Aladtec subscriber for nearly five years. Operations manager Roland Shoen said his 14 employees appreciate being able to access a real-time schedule via their smartphone or home computer anytime. He said it "works real good" and is accessible most everywhere in their coverage area. The Chisholm service answers about 600 calls a year over its 300-square-mile coverage area.

Other services in the region using Aladtec include Essentia Health EMS in Deer River, the Virginia Police- and Fire Departments, Eveleth Area Ambulance, Bois Forte Ambulance and the Ely Ambulance Service.

Mannausau said some International Falls paramedics "have used (Aladtec) in other places, so they were familiar with it. It was really kind of a coaching session with some of our part-timers to get them onboard, but once they've seen it, it seems to be working out well."

International Falls has provided 24/7 station coverage since 2012. While the department always tries to cover open shifts with local paramedics, it sometimes calls in medics from other communities able to cover vacation or sick hours.

With the Aladtec program, medics from other communities can be notified of IFFD openings. "We're going to try and imitate practices used in Bemidji to draw medics from out-of-town to cover (open shifts), so if we know we have a void in our schedule, we can send that out to other people to fill that shift.

Aladtec, Inc. is headquartered in River Falls, Wis. The software was first developed in 2003 to solve scheduling problems at a rural ambulance service. The firm has continued to grow and now serves more than 2,100 fire, police, EMS, dispatch- and healthcare facilities across the U.S. and Canada.

For more information, visit, or call #888-749-5550.

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