The Open ISES Project

Open Information Systems for Emergency Services

Microsoft® Access® Prototypes

"It's a prototype because it's the first of its type.
We have to test it and see how it works."

Jeff Grange

The Access Database Prototypes

How We Got Started

The databases that we are presenting here were all created in Microsoft® Access® 2000. These prototypes were created to test the concept of interlinking various databases that could be used by emergency service personnel. In essence, a "buffet-style" system where you pick and choose just the database programs you need to get the job done, thereby reducing the size and bloat of a single insanely large "do-it-all and throw in the kitchen sink" database. These databases, despite being prototypes, were used in day-to-day operations of a metropolitan Fire and EMS department.

The Departmental Database and the Administration and Bug Tracking Database were the first two databases that were created in this series. This specific project was started because there was a need to create several databases to track various quality review projects. At the time, all of this was being done using paper and pencil, and it was rather time consuming. All of these QA projects shared some similar data points, especially in the area of personnel and agency information. From this small database project, the number of projects continued to grow until we ended up with a suite of programs that were being used, almost on a daily basis.

As the one doing the development (and as a part of the long term development and bug tracking strategy) I also wanted a way for the users to send me reports of any problems they had with the databases or any ideas they had to improve it. So the Administration program started life as a very simple bug tracking project, and later a reporting component was added.

These two databases can be considered the core or hub of the rest of the databases in this series. Almost all of the remaining databases in this prototype series utilize information from the Agency and the Administration database.

On a personal level, at the time these projects were started I was just beginning to understand how relational databases work and how they are able to exchange information. I had created a couple of smaller database programs, so when this opportunity came along we decided to try and plan for a long term development strategy. Thus started the development of the series of databases that we are bringing to you now. As one who is trained as a paramedic and not a programmer, I was fairly pleased with the results, and the fact that many of these original databases are still being used today.

As we clean up the other databases in the series (removing some items that were specific to the agency they were created for, as well as making it more generic in nature so that it can be used by nearly anyone), we will post them here as well. It is our hope that by posting these databases you can gain some insight in to how we can created these databases, as well as garner ideas for an updated series of database programs that will be useful to a wide variety of emergency service agencies.

A Note About the Setup of the Databases

The databases available for downloading in this series are initially setup to run off of a single computer. We have set up all of the database components to be installed in the "c:\program files\Open ISES\" folder. This will allow you to test them out quickly and easily on a single desktop computer.

If you wish to use these in a server environment, you can do that with some simple modifications. All of the Access databases in the prototype series were originally designed to run in a client-server environment, and so they are 'split' databases. One Access database will hold just the data (called the back-end database), while a second database will have the forms, queries and reports (called the front-end). The database that holds the data would typically be placed on a server, while the database that has the forms and reports would be placed on a workstation.

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