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Putting Out Fires, Intel Style.

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Volunteering isn't just an activity around Intel, it's a part of our culture and a responsibility that all of our employees share and the company values. When Intel employees give their time, Intel matches those efforts with dollars. Every time Intel volunteers give their skills, energy and passion to a cause, they're changing the world and making it a better place. The Intel Involved Matching Grant program awards cash grants to eligible organizations based on the number of hours that Intel employees volunteer. The Intel Involved Hero Award recognizes extraordinary employee volunteers who have made a significant and lasting impact working with non-profit organizations or schools to address community needs. Finalists and the winner receive a grant for the non-profit/non-governmental organization of their choice. Here’s another guest blog post by Intel’s Employee Communications Team member, Walden, as he introduces us to Patrick, winner of the 2013 Global Intel Involved Hero Award.

Patrick Grogg has worked at Intel for 19 years as a systems programmer. Before that_ Different career. He worked in Detroit as a tool and die maker who created parts for the aerospace and other indust Patrick has worked at Intel for 19 years as a systems programmer. Before that? Different career. He worked in Detroit as a tool and die maker who created parts for the aerospace and other industries.

Thinking back to that first lunch meeting he had with the Gilbert, Arizona fire chief and his IT guy, Patrick recalls telling them, “I think we can do this.” Patrick says they looked at him skeptically.

Big mistake.

Recently, Patrick—an Intel Arizona software engineer and systems programmer with a knack for simply getting stuff done—was picked from among 13 finalists and honored with the Global Intel Involved Award for 2013. As part of the award, the Intel Foundation will donate $10,000 to the local fire department.

What Patrick did for the city of Gilbert—as a volunteer—was remarkable.

Despite serving one of the very fastest-growing cities in America, Gilbert’s Fire Department was badly lagging in technology. Little was online. Paramedics arriving at the scene of an accident or fire would scratch down a patient’s blood pressure and vitals with a pen on the back on their hand, then later radio that information to the hospital as they sped to the emergency room. Everything else was on paper, and important information moved at snail’s pace. Incident reports were available—30 days later.

“We could get that down to 8 hours,” Patrick told the fire chief and his team.

They’d been eyeing off-the-shelf information systems, but there was no way they could afford the big price tag—the nearby city of Phoenix had paid $750,000 for a study and $1.5 million just to get started.

Eight months of coding and development

So Patrick set to work, volunteering with Intel’s Mentoring and Planning Services (MAPS) program that matches Intel employees’ skills with the needs of local schools, non-profits and government agencies.

First things first—Patrick simply “hung out” he says, spending time riding along with the local fire crews as they rushed to car wrecks and fires and other mishaps. He watched how the fire crews worked, what they needed, what would speed the flow of patient and emergency info.

Then he began coding. A lot of it. After about eight months of development work, and some 20 iterations of his program’s user interface, Patrick delivered FireDox.

Inside a Gilbert, Arizona, fire truck with Patrick Inside a Gilbert, Arizona, fire truck with Patrick's app running on the tablet on the right side of the dash. The department has outfitted each truck with two tablets running FireDox, as well as PCs in all the department's fire stations.

FireDox is an application that runs on Intel-based tablets and PCs and is today dramatically streamlining all aspects of information flow in the Gilbert Fire Department. The data that emergency crews collect—from 7,200 patients and 13,000 incidents per year—goes into FireDox on-scene, real-time, online. Hospitals know exactly who is headed toward their ER. Training data is readily available to fire crews, as are patient record, medical treatments, and other key bits of data. Patrick designed FireDox so that first responders can draw a quick sketch of a scene—something they need to do, but that other bookkeeping-oriented off-the-shelf systems could not support. Gilbert Fire Chief Collin Dewitt calls the system that Patrick created—now running on about 80 ruggedized tablets and 60 PCs—“probably the best in the country” and superior to anything he could have bought.

For his part, Patrick Grogg says simply that “I feel good I was able to do something for my town.”

Walking the Intel talk

Oh and one other thing. Early in the project, Patrick recalls a meeting with members of the Gilbert Fire Department. He’d opened up his Intel-issued HP laptop, which was fitted with a blue Intel-branded laptop skins that read:

“Go ahead and say it can’t be done. We love that.”

“The chief asked me, ‘do you really believe what you have on your laptop?’”

Patrick answered with one word. “Absolutely.”