Our client’s mission was to provide advanced, all-hazards training to approximately 50,000 first responders annually. These responders include all healthcare professions, law enforcement, firefighters, crisis and emergency professions, as well as various governments and organizations around the country and world. They provided this training through on-site training at their one-of-a-kind training facility composed of classrooms and learning labs. They also provided a hospital facility in the United States dedicated solely to training hospital and healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response. The facility included classrooms, exercise and simulation areas, an emergency operations center, emergency department, clinical ward, and an isolation ward for ‘patients’ with highly infectious diseases.
These in-person training facilities required both direct and indirect technical support in the form of tasks such as media injects for hands-on situational exercises, desktop support for PCs and mobile devices used for the training delivery, as well as IT A/V operational support; network administration; Wi-Fi network management and support; VoIP phone system support; printer management and support; A/V conferencing/communication equipment management and support.
This mission was further complicated with the introduction of the global crisis, COVID-19, the likes of which those first responders and medical personnel were training for when the first outbreaks occurred. With the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, training providers and educational institutions worldwide were soon scrambling to institute online training platforms and regimens. Our client halted all on-campus training and searched for solutions to adapt and meet the continued need to provide vital all-hazards training to the frontline disaster response community.
The client’s unique training environment and the need to receive consistent, reliable support that enabled their critical training mission—upon which disaster response and training in the United States depends—presented unique challenges which Ironclad was exceptionally positioned to meet as we helped them transition their in-person training environment to a suite of virtual instructor-led training and self-paced online training.
The client’s internal training administration system and public-facing web environment both fell under the responsibility of Ironclad’s application development support, and in collaboration with the client, they were upgraded and modified to offer virtual and online training in response to the pandemic. The internal training administration system is a suite of web-based applications used to manage all aspects of training support and delivery. Ironclad’s software development technical experts were on hand to help the client plan, execute, and implement virtual and online training capabilities using the Scrum agile methodology organized in two-week sprints.
- Our team utilized Team Foundation Server (TFS) to enable tracking of action items and backlog; to manage and report statuses to customer; enable reviews and retrospectives; generate reports/status from library and backlog library; and to send a weekly status report to our client.
- Ironclad was responsible for discovery and requirements gathering; development, design, user experience, and usability research; DevOps, documentation support, security support, analytics & metrics, section 508 compliance, SCORM 1.2 and 2004 compliance, HIPPA compliance, security remediation, and reporting.
- NIST 800-53 and the agency’s security standards were incorporated into all phases of the project to ensure FISMA compliance.
Even with these project complications, we implemented a successfully aggressive pace set to beat the schedule the customer requested of 3 months.
While in-person training was halted, Ironclad’s IT Operations Team collaborated with the client and contractors from training delivery, student services and facilities to establish and design plans to convert and upgrade classrooms, training locations, IT and A/V equipment to prepare for, adapt to and meet new social distancing mandates and guidelines for when in-person training resumed, provide on-site capabilities for virtual instructor-led training and modernize the client’s IT infrastructure and technology required to support and deliver training. The Ironclad team took full advantage of the opportunity to make much needed upgrades and updates to the classrooms as previously, most of the classrooms utilized projectors and analog video.
- Ironclad delivered the customer’s online training environment within 6 weeks with full functionality and no setbacks or issues.
- The entirety of the training system and its various unique modules were custom development projects by members of Ironclad.
- All classrooms have been updated with 4 digital displays [(2) 82” and (2) 65”] and audio updated with centralized speakers and microphones.
- The auditorium, which was historically used for all-hands staff meetings, was temporarily converted into a large classroom to facilitate social distancing. The conversion included installing a new instructor PC, all displays updated to include (4) 65 inch screens and (2) 72 inch screens, the entire A/V control system was replaced with digital video output and a new digital video matrix and the speakers were replaced to distribute sound more evenly.
- Touchscreen TV’s and thin client computers were added and configured in central locations throughout the campus to provide on-demand access to the client’s SharePoint site.
- Approximately 200 obsolete PC’s were refreshed.
- Laptops have been provided and maintained for all staff that moved to a teleworking posture
- The Ironclad team in careful collaboration with the client and other contractors was directly involved in the client’s success of providing, implementing, and maintaining remote work capabilities, supporting staff alternating between remote and on-site work, establishing, and configuring the IT infrastructure to support virtual and online training and a seamless return to on-site hands-on training.
- Ultimately, our client was able to expand their online training from internal IT security training and pilot courses to offering 22 public online training courses to the first responder community, 61 virtual instructor led training courses, and a variety of just-in-time training videos; and resumed providing vital all-hazards first responder training opportunities.
In addition to this crucial deliverable, Ironclad continued to provide the original spectrum of necessary services for our client. Our team continues to provide all-inclusive IT enhancements and updates to the equipment, tools and training technology using a continuous integration/continuous delivery methodology, and we continue to provide technical research, recommendations, and we are responsible for developing solutions to incorporate enhancements for classrooms and modernize IT for our client to ensure all of their future needs are met. Our client has been able to continue completing their mission with thanks to Ironclad’s hard work, ingenuity, and perseverance.