George Mason University

First Due on Campus: A Collaboration for Public Safety at George Mason University

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Gregg Black

Director of Emergency Management and Fire Safety

Location

Fairfax, VA

Response Area Population

35,000 Students

Personnel

1400 Professional Firefighters with Data Access

Q&A

About GMU

First Due

Can you tell us about the Public Safety landscape at GMU, and what problems were arising that needed to be fixed with First Due?

Director Black

George Mason University is a state institution that sits on the border of the City of Fairfax and Fairfax County. Being State property, we are semi-autonomous, and have our own police department but we rely on the City and County to help with fire and EMS situations on campus. The closest station to us is the City of Fairfax, and our call volume does take up a lot of their time, energy, and resources. In non-COVID times, our daytime campus population rivals the entire city population, so we are essentially our own city, but without our own fire department.

The city and the county work well together, but they are definitely two different jurisdictions. I want to make sure I provide them both with all the information they need to be able to successfully respond to our buildings. Getting everyone on the same page has been one of our biggest struggles. We’ve tried handling it a few different ways, but before First Due, all those ways included paper copies and were a huge time investment to keep up to date. It worked well, and the county used the maps a lot more, but every once in a while we would get a third or fourth due engine in, and the map they had in the truck was 10 years old and was missing half of our buildings. As much as we wanted the paper system to work, it was nearly impossible to keep it up the way it should have been.

When I saw First Due, I immediately felt like it was the answer we had been looking for.

When I saw First Due, I immediately felt like it was the answer we had been looking for.

Finding First Due

First Due

When you first learned about First Due were you confident it would be useful at GMU?

Director Black

I got introduced to First Due when the fire chiefs of the Northern Virginia region decided they needed a common software platform to handle pre-planning incidents. The City of Fairfax received a Grant to purchase the platform. At the time First Due came in, we had tried switching over to a thumb drive method where we would upload a bunch of information to a thumb drive and leave it in a Knox Box for the fire department. I liked this method because I didn’t have to coordinate getting information on the fire trucks. It gave me an easier way to maintain the information, but even then, Mason was the only entity using thumb drives so responding units didn’t always know they were there.

When I saw First Due, I immediately felt like it was the answer we had been looking for. I could upload one map and whoever shows up can see everything they need to see and can get all the information they need quickly and in a format they can digest. All the tools we were learning in First Due were user friendly for both the firefighters and my staff.

First Due is so easy to use. Not only can we easily upload all the information we need, but the maintenance and upkeep on the information isn’t burdensome the way we were used to.

 

Implementing First Due on Campus

First Due

What were your main priorities as you began implementing First Due on campus?

Director Black

When we first started using First Due, I wanted to be able to share locations of hazards and hazardous areas. We have everything from high hazard storage, residential buildings, and bio level three labs that deal with pathogens and other agents, down to machine shops and other hazardous areas. As the hazards change, we can now easily update First Due from anywhere with the new information.

Another big bulk of data we entered was on campus construction. We are doing an incredible amount of construction all throughout campus to replace underground utility, which has really been affecting how you can drive and move around campus. There have been a few times where we have gone to construction meetings with the fire department and just pulled out the laptop right there and marked off in First Due where the crews won’t be able to drive, or where new sections of the road were added that they can drive on now. We were able to do this with the construction teams, so we know that information is accurate and will be available immediately to any of the responding units.

First Due has also helped us with our dispatch system. Dispatching in our area is very unique because we have a center that handles all dispatch for the city and county, and then we have a separate dispatch center for our on-campus George Mason University Police Department. That’s also our central monitoring station for all fire alarm systems. Often times the local dispatch center will send Fire or EMS units to campus and Mason’s campus police are not aware of the response. First Due has been able to solve that problem for us because our dispatchers now have a backup cell phone with First Due loaded onto it, so now every time there is a dispatch anywhere on our campus, they get a notification. There have even been a few times where they've seen the dispatch on First Due, sent a Mason police officer and have been able to start CPR or first aid before the ambulance arrives. First Due has closed a huge communication gap between us and the local dispatch center that we continually struggled with.

Community Connect on Campus

First Due

Can you share how the Community Connect program has helped on campus safety?

Director Black

We are planning to release Community Connect to allow students to self-report any information they would want the fire department to know. With a campus full of people, we have had students who are prone to seizures during a fire alarm, students with support animals that also need to be accounted for, students with mobility issues that would need extra assistance in an emergency – and so on. Since Community Connect is ADA Compliant, we are ready to push this out to our students and members of campus. No matter how serious someone's need is, their information is something that both the police and the fire department need to know about when responding.

Another thing that makes Community Connect on campus different than a typical residential program, is that students change their housing situation, meaning every year our turnover rate is at 100%, which is not the case in most communities. One of the things I like most about Community Connect is that it puts it on the student to self-report and keep their information up to date, rather than relying on the university to maintain that information in a compliant manner. We see more and more students every year with different and unique needs, and giving them the opportunity to voluntarily share that information with our emergency response teams is important for the individual and the responders. Community Connect will allow us to give more attention to those who may be more vulnerable or need extra help during an emergency which can make a major difference in response, especially on a college campus.

Exploring First Due for the Future

First Due

How do you see First Due continuing to make a difference at GMU?

Director Black

As far as exploring more of what we can do with First Due, I would like to integrate it with our Fire Alarm Monitoring System. We use a Fire Alarm Monitoring System called Keltron, and they can monitor the various types of fire alarm manufacturers we use on campus. We recently upgraded our Keltron system, which gives us a lot more specific information on what activated the fire alarm. Where I see an integration with First Due is allowing the Fire Department to see exactly what is on the Keltron, which happens to be the same information on the fire alarm panel. So, when they are five minutes out from the building, they can start planning in their head where they need to go, what they need to grab, if it’s one alarm or multiple alarms they need to focus on, so they can prepare for the scope and size of the building and incident. Using First Due for these types of incidents will give us much quicker and more accurate information, which at the end of the day will help us run a safer and more prepared campus.

Using First Due for these types of incidents will give us much quicker and more accurate information, which at the end of the day will help us run a safer and more prepared campus.

 

Using First Due for these types of incidents will give us much quicker and more accurate information, which at the end of the day will help us run a safer and more prepared campus.

 

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Pre-Incident Planning

Automatically aggregate critical information on every structure in your response area so you have pre-plans on every structure within weeks with no effort from your team.

Every Structure

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Analyze & Manage

Respond

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Fire Prevention

Complete any type of inspection using intuitive and flexible checklists with full integrated pre-planning for company level inspections.

Next-Gen Inspections

Virtual CRR

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Incident Reporting

Document fire company responses with fully scalable, NFIRS and NFORS compliant reporting system designed for ease of use by field responders. Automatic submission to state and federal regulatory bodies.

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PATIENT Data
Pre-plan information
CAD Integration
Schedule and Assignments

NFIRS

Province/ Local / State

NFORS

ePCR / NEMSIS

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Mobile Responder

Complete mobile response functionality enables your crew to receive notifications immediately from dispatch - status, track vehicles / personnel and route to an incident.

Respond

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Available Anywhere

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Reinvent Cross Agency Collaboration

Seamlessly Share Critical Pre-Plan Data with Neighbors

EMS

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OEM

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Scheduling & Personnel

Schedule personnel with simple drag & drop functionality utilizing a best-of-breed scheduling platform.

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Any shift
type

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integrated

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Community Connect

Community Connect allows Residents to create a Household Life Safety Profile in minutes and empowers your agency with the marketing engine you need to get the word out and drive on-going engagement.

Engage Residents

Engage Businesses

Automate Processes

Respond

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Assets & Inventory

Real-time insight and statistics into apparatus & equipment health, usage and compliance - seamlessly linked to First Due Scheduling, Incident Reporting & more.

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Work Order Management

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