When he's not teaching art to elementary school children, Ben Gufford is working as a volunteer firefighter at a Wilson County, North Carolina fire department. Through his endeavors, Ben is contributing greatly to improving his community, so it's no surprise that he's also the one imagining technology the fire department can use to be more efficient-- and in turn, hopefully save more lives.
Ben has created an app with AppSheet the department is using to conduct pre-plans of businesses in the area. Each fire department is required by state law to visit all of the businesses in its fire district and get photos of the buildings inside and out, blueprints if possible, the names of the owners, phone numbers, and building measurements. The plans help firefighters determine how to fight fire at the business if one should ever occur.
Before, the team was accomplishing these tasks by hand. They would have to manually record information during building inspections, take photos, and then transcribe all the information to a computer later on. The photos had to be manually uploaded. As once can imagine, this was a daunting task, especially for first responders whose first and most important job is to protect and serve their community.
Ben says the app has tremendously simplified the pre-planning process. More significantly, when a fire does happen, firefighters can pull up the pre-plans on an iPad when they arrive on scene. They're no longer keeping track of and shuffling through papers during critical situations that need their full attention.
"This has brought our department into the 21st century. Your service has allowed my volunteer department, which is on a limited budget, to create pre-plans that are as good if not better than municipal (city) fire departments," he says.
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