Natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and snow storms can severely disrupt or even shut down a business. If electrical power and Internet access are lost, buildings become uninhabitable, or on-premises equipment is destroyed, a company’s revenue or income could be in instant trouble. That’s why it’s important to have the proper recovery plan and flexible communication services in place to help handle and mitigate the devastation caused by these ruinous, unpredictable events. Voice and data communications are essential to both internal and external customers and therefore the most often the most critical. Equally important are IT, finance and sales team’s ability to remain connected where impacts could result in tens of thousands of dollars in lost interest or sales every hour. Businesses in the western United States have an additional burden placed on them, due to the propensity of earthquakes in their regions that can displace people, destroy buildings and potentially take business out of a recovery plan cannot restore communications quickly. Recently, a hospital in Southern California was faced with a big disaster challenge, thought it was technically earthquake prepared, it was not ready for the abrupt relocation of over 85 employees which included critical IT and finance teams.
For over 50 years, El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC) has provided non-profit medical care to Imperial Valley residents in the southeast corner of California. With more than 150 accredited physicians and over 900 employees spread out across multiple buildings. In addition to the medical center, the community boasts two outpatient centers, a wound healing center, a children’s specialist clinic, and various educational programs. ECRMC had a communications infrastructure that included a comprehensive network of phone; data equipment and services (both on-site and off with buildings housing back-up services); and power failure and emergency manual processes in the event of a catastrophic failure. The hospital’s voice communications infrastructure was based on a legacy phone system for users spread across their campus. Of significant importance, the building that housed critical finance and IT departments also include the organization’s dedicated data center was condemned as a result of the Easter Day 2010 Earthquake.
The first weekend of April, 2010 started like any other for ECRMC with the exception of fewer scheduled appointments due to the Easter holiday falling on that Sunday. However, any state of normalcy left the campus on April 4th at around 3:40pm, when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake centered in northern Baja California shook the medical center. The quake was widely felt throughout much of Southern California and there were aftershocks registering as high as 4.0 on the Richter scale. Damage was reported all across the Imperial Valley and two people were killed. One of ECRMC’s remote office buildings, which housed its accounts payable, general ledger, administration, education and IT departments, was severely damaged by the earthquake. The building was deemed uninhabitable so the IT staff was called in immediately to implement their disaster recovery plan. The IT team started relocating staff into other offices and patient rooms on campus in addition to individual homes. ECRMC employees from accounts payable, patient accounting, administration, education and IT were still unreachable three days after the earthquake. They couldn’t receive calls from customers, make calls, nor gain access to voicemails putting significant operational strain on other departments to manually relay messages. All relocations initially were temporary which put additional pressure on the IT staff in restoring services knowing the individuals would be moving again to permanent locations.
WorldSmart is the world’s first completely cloud-deployed Unified Communications service designed for mid-market enterprises (MMEs) consisting of geographically dispersed offices and or employees. The advantage of WorldSmart’s cloud-based delivery to ECRMC was the speed in which users could be turned up anywhere an internet connection existed. Additionally, since WorldSmart seamlessly includes numerous communication services such as business voice, multimedia conferencing, web collaboration, fax, instant messaging, email, desktop share, presence and call center all-in-one it addressed all their communication needs. Lastly, since there are no applications to install IT staff resources requirements were significantly reduced. John Gaede, Director of IT at ECRMC and his team including Jim Eyer, IT Services, Mike Davis, IT Services, and Kelley Ashbrook, Voice Services, were under extreme pressure to restore the hospital’s communications as well as take into account that everyone would be moving up to two more times. The IT team communications and office space was also severed as a result of the earthquake making it even more difficult to stay in touch and orchestrate meetings and schedules needed to facilitate the new recovery plan. After three days without phone service for all 85 occupants of the condemned building and no quick resolution in their power, John contacted Quorum Technologies, who proposed WorldSmart. Quorum was able to assist in getting the IT staff and critical finance team member’s dial tone, voicemail, direct dial numbers and the ability to be reached in temporary offices within hours of receiving the call.
"WorldSmart enabled us to restore phone service to all users at temporary locations very quickly. Secure Instant messaging, on the phone and computer presence MobileCall, MobileMessage and conferencing has been life savers for us and not sure how we functioned without it before. WorldSmart has us rethinking our whole communications needs and disaster recovery infrastructure because of its off-site delivery as well as minimal impact to my team when deploying WorldSmart which makes my team more scalable."
Ashbrook, the phone manager at ECRMC, took a 5-minute crash course on establishing service to phones and five minutes coordinating getting phones to the users who then plugged the phones in themselves at their temporary office locations. WorldSmart’s simple installation procedures significantly sped up the transition to operational services. WorldSmart’s simple administration also gave Ashbrook the ability to quickly move direct dial numbers over to WorldSmart in parallel to users plugging their own phones in enabling the displaced user the communication path to reach on the same phone numbers as before the quake also speeding up reconnectivity with zero training and no new phone lists. New users were being restored with WorldSmart every few minutes with this simple process.
Had it not been for WorldSmart, Ashbrook would have been forced to temporarily deploy multiple phone systems and spend hundreds of hours configuring settings for simple connectivity only to be managed again each time users were relocated. When their previous phone system provider was called upon they could not accomplish any communication solution quickly thus leaving critical ECRMC staff unconnected for addition days even months. The initial current provider deployment itself would have taken hundreds of man hours and tens of thousands of dollars, and subsequent movements would have mounted more time and money. But with WorldSmart the users just plugged their phones and began using it. Since the initial crisis deployment of WorldSmart, all the users have moved again from temporary buildings and offices into 10 permanent locations.
"There is no way we could have accomplished so much in so little time without WorldSmart,” said Ashbrook. “It allowed us to get teams operational and for managers to make other long-term physical decisions about future permanent locations of staff without technology limitations or additional costs. The service has so many features and benefits we have only begun to scratch the surface on things we plan to implement."
"John’s team did an excellent job of quickly assimilating features and benefits of WorldSmart and implementing a plan that included delegating affected parties to pick up and plug their own phones to speed up connecting users."
WorldSmart is regularly used as a disaster recovery solution when subscribers may have existing premise-based solutions with mandates a failover or redundant system be established. These mandates state for any case where communications on primary systems could be lost require a secondary and preferably off site solution be made available. In the event of an emergency, the WorldSmart recovery service is instantly switched over to for two-way communications. These benefits are realized in the event of power failures, natural disasters, as well as non-natural disasters, such as bomb threats or fire displacement where equipment, buildings, or power or Internet connections or equipment many be damaged.
Earthquake Effects on El Centro Regional Medical Center:
WorldSmart Features & Benefits:
El Centro Regional Medical Center is a non-profit, 165 Bed acute care community hospital, an Agency of the City of El Centro. For over 50 years, ECRMC has provided medical care to the Imperial Valley and has become a leading healthcare system as an excellent provider.
Quorum Technologies, Inc. is a complete IT service Provider and integrator offering IT vision/strategy, infrastructure design, implementation, staff augmentation, rapid custom application development and complete integration services to clients of all sizes and complexity. Business sectors serviced include but are not limited to: Healthcare, Government, Legal, Real Estate, Retail and Education.
PanTPanTerra Networks, Inc. is committed to providing the most comprehensive cloud-based unified communications with its WorldSmart software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. WorldSmart is the industry's first 100% browser-based Unified Communications Client front-end. Connecting to PanTerra's fully cloud-based Unified Communications back-end, WorldSmart stores all your communications in the cloud and allows you to access them with just an Internet connection and browser. The company is privately held and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, with Research and Development based in Hyderabad, India. For more information, please visit www.panterranetworks.com or call +1 408.702.2200.