New Technology To Track St. Albert, AB Firefighters at Emergencies


Ann Arbor, MI (December 10, 2009) - It's a scene all too familiar for firefighters: Emergency responders enter a burning building, but before the flames are put out, the roof collapses and they dash out. The commander on scene is suddenly left wondering if any crew members are still inside. What do they do?

If someone is trapped, there may just be a couple of minutes to find and rescue them. If everyone did make it out, the commander will be sending a rescue team in for a useless but extremely dangerous mission. What's the cost if they guess wrong?

That stressful and dangerous scenario will be a thing of the past for St. Albert Fire Department, now that department officials are introducing new tracking technology called OnSite ERT. The technology will replace previous, less reliable techniques to determine crew status during fire-related emergencies, only because until now, there hasn?t been a better option.

Starting in January 2010, the St. Albert Fire Department will begin utilizing OnSite ERT on the scene of emergencies. The technology uses a combination of lightweight ID tags, portable drop readers and incident command software that provides a clear sense of an emergency scene in real time ? all from the screen of a laptop.

St. Albert FD represents about 85 firefighters serving a population of 57,000 in roughly a 13 square mile area. Local support will be provided by ERT Systems' Canadian partner, Falken Secure Networks.

OnSite ERT, a portable and rapidly deployable system for tracking and monitoring first responders and equipment, is the brainchild of retired firefighter John Ellis and technology expert Dennis Carmichael. Following several months of research, development and live trials at mock emergency scenes, the product is gaining traction among fire departments nationwide, already in use by 14 departments from Texas to New York, with more on the horizon.

The OnSite ERT system has also proven beneficial for use in mutual-aid events, streamlining response and improving post-incident reporting and performance analysis, which helps departments comply with federal rules in place for emergency situations. The system provides electronic data demonstrating that rules were followed on scene, which helps limit legal risks in the event of a tragedy.

"For commanders on scene, OnSite ERT removes a tremendous amount of anxiety while also contributing to the safety of the crew," Ellis said. Our dream is to one day see every fire department using this technology. With OnSite ERT, fire departments might be able to send someone home who wouldn't have made it otherwise.

About OnSite ERT
Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, OnSite ERT offers a portable and rapidly-deployable system for tracking and locating personnel and equipment on-scene at emergency events. First installed in early 2006 in Michigan, OnSite ERT has earned a number of awards and accolades, including recognition at the Michigan Homeland Security Consortium's SELECT awards. OnSite ERT is on the DHS Authorized Equipment List and is approved for grant purchase. For more information, go to