How to Communicate Emergency Response Performance Using One Easy Metric

It is very common for the emergency response industry to over-complicate data. Agencies are being asked by national data groups to adhere to a set of incredibly rigorous standards before they’ve been able to tackle the basics. One standard calculation in emergency response is the Effective Response Force, a measure of the 90th percentile response time for all required units to arrive on scene. While this is an incredibly powerful metric, to perform this calculation, you have to follow at least nine steps:

  • Removal of incomplete, inaccurate, or just plain wrong data

  • Comprehensive outlier detection

  • Time interval filtering

  • Incident category filtering

  • Incident density filtering

  • Effective response force filtering

  • Critical tasking filtering

  • Geospatial filtering

  • 90th percentile calculations

Nobody has time for all that.

Now imagine sharing that information you spent so long calculating with your audience. Imagine them reading that the “90th percentile Effective Response Force of our fire department’s response to a building fire is 7 minutes 32 seconds” and you have a goal of 6:00. Not only is this difficult to understand, it also is hard to assess. It feels like the answer is to make your linemen move faster, drive faster, and perform faster. This is not a productive conversation.


There is a simpler way. 

There is a way to calculate and communicate response performance that will save time, get your leaders to ask the right questions, and motivate your team to improve along the way. The answer is to calculate goals met - the percent of times your agency hits specific goals, i.e. turnout time. 

Looking at your response time in the 90th percentile gives you an overall look, but it doesn’t give you the nuance of the underlying data. You can’t tell how close you may be to your desired goal. Instead, looking at the total number of times your team met a specific goal gives you a clear picture of your performance and allows you to set improvement targets based on where you’re at currently, no crazy calculation required.

For example, if your turnout time goal was met 60% of the time last month, you can set a target to raise that to 75% of the time next month. This gives you a clear, attainable goal based on how many times you are hitting your expected time. This metric is clear, it makes sense, it demonstrates that improvement is needed, and sets you up to make a tangible goal for your future performance.  

This is the reason mySidewalk has made it a business to remove the complexity and offers data science as a service built into our incident performance solution. We enable your team to easily communicate your work in an impressive, visually appealing way that will inspire your peers and get you where you need to go.