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Customer Spotlight

Austin Pets Alive! Uses AlertMedia to Keep Employees Safe During Winter Storms

  • Safety
    Keeps staff across multiple locations safe and connected during emergencies.
  • Continuity
    Keeps business operations running smoothly during disruptive and dangerous events.
  • Reliability
    Ensures employees always receive critical messages through multichannel delivery.
  • Peace of Mind
    Gives managers confidence that staff can contact them through a designated emergency number at any time.
  • Industry
    Nonprofit
  • Locations
    5
  • Employees
    200
  • Products
    Emergency Communication Software
  • Primary Uses
    Emergency, Inclement Weather
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Nonprofit Animal Shelter Navigates Winter Storms With Rapid Communication

Founded in 1997, Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) is a nonprofit organization specializing in programs designed to save populations of animals most at risk of euthanasia. Since 2008, the organization has saved upwards of 80,000 pets and helped turn Austin, Texas into the largest No Kill city in the United States.

When winter storm Uri spread unprecedented snowfall and damaging ice across Texas in February of 2021, Austin Pets Alive! was one of many organizations that needed a way to keep their employees safe and informed despite power outages, water quality issues, and unsafe driving conditions. With AlertMedia’s multichannel, two-way emergency communication software, Austin Pets Alive! was able to keep employees informed about campus status, street closures, and the storm’s progression. As the storm worsened and impacted critical city infrastructure, they also leveraged survey notifications to check in on employees and determine who was in need of water, power, or supplies. By deploying rapid multichannel messages, Austin Pets Alive! was able to distribute resources to employees and ensure the safety of both their staff and shelter animals during the storm.

Keeping Employees Safe From Workplace Threats

With multiple locations, more than 200 employees nationwide, and a growing network of volunteers, Austin Pets Alive! values the ability to rapidly communicate and connect with its distributed workforce—especially during emergencies and scenarios that impact employee safety. As an animal shelter, emergencies like onsite fires, aggressive guests, and active shooters pose a risk to employees, property, and animals under the organization’s care. After evaluating multiple solutions, the organization selected AlertMedia for its ease of use and ability to send critical information quickly across multiple channels.

The system quickly proved useful when a guest arrived at Austin Pets Alive! thinking his dog was at their campus. When staff assured the visitor his dog was not in their care, he became violent and threatening. The team at Austin Pets Alive! quickly contacted the police and sent out a notification to inform employees of the situation asking them to avoid the area until further notice.

“We work with such a large, ever-expanding network of volunteers and have people in and out of our shelters daily—and most of us aren’t in front of a desk,” says Stephanie Bilbro, Director of Shelter Operations at Austin Pets Alive!. “If there’s an emergency at one of our locations, it’s crucial for us to have a way to quickly communicate with the right employees over channels that will reach them.” With instant, two-way communication, the team at APA! feels more at ease knowing they will be quickly alerted in an emergency and will always have a way to ask for help. With AlertMedia, APA! is able to keep employees connected and safe so they can focus on their mission to make all of central Texas a no-kill area for companion animals.

“If there's an emergency at one of our locations, it's crucial for us to have a way to quickly communicate with the right employees over channels that will reach them.”

Multichannel Notifications Ensure Connectivity During Power Outages

While Austin Pets Alive! originally enlisted AlertMedia for onsite emergencies like fires or active shooter events, Bilbro and her team quickly turned to AlertMedia’s multichannel messaging and audience response features to keep their people safe and connected during Winter Storm Uri.

Winter Storm Uri caused millions of power outages across Texas, leaving some residents without internet, electricity, or reliable access to clean water. “With widespread power outages causing so much chaos, our staff were incredibly busy. We were so thankful that AlertMedia simplified sending out communication to keep staff updated and coordinate our response,” says Bilbro.

The team at Austin Pets Alive! deployed notifications across text, email, landline phones, mobile phones, and mobile app push to ensure that every employee received the message. Using AlertMedia’s audience segmentation capabilities, the organization was able to notify Austin locals of campus status, where to find available resources, and the storm’s progression—all without overwhelming their out-of-state employees. Additionally, using AlertMedia’s survey and read confirmation capabilities, Austin Pets Alive! was able to quickly determine which employees were in need of water, power, or supplies and direct donated resources from the community accordingly.

“We had an employee stranded at home with no food that was able to text us through AlertMedia and request groceries. Our team was able to respond immediately and provide the food and supplies they needed within hours,” says Bilbro “AlertMedia’s system provides our people with a direct line to those in our organization that can help them during a crisis. Throughout the storm, our employees were relieved to continue receiving help and updates from us.”

To provide continuous updates on Winter Storm Uri, Bilbro’s team leveraged AlertMedia’s event pages, providing a centralized destination for employees to find relevant information and resources. Their event page featured power outage maps, places to find water and warmth, and press releases from the city with the latest updates. Employees were able to respond to updates with questions and APA! had the ability to push important updates out in the form of notifications. “Creating an event page was a helpful way to organize critical updates and resources in one place, and make sure it was available to people without sending them a text every single time,” says Bilbro.

“This system provides our people with a direct line of sight to those in our organization that can help them during a crisis.”

Creating a More Robust Emergency Response Plan

Improved communication allows APA! employees to feel more secure in the workplace and provides managers with peace of mind knowing that they can rapidly notify their people of critical events in minutes. Providing staff and volunteers with a designated emergency contact number has also helped APA! improve their employee experience and ensure everyone feels safe at work.

AlertMedia’s easy to use interface and fast message delivery provides Bilbro and her team with a reliable way to push messages out during critical events. “Looking back, the only thing we’d change would be to start using AlertMedia sooner,” says Bilbro.

Without the right tools in place, keeping a nationwide workforce of full-time, remote, shift, and volunteer workers can be challenging. However, with a modern, reliable emergency communication system at their disposal, Austin Pets Alive! is confident they can keep their employees safe during even the most unexpected events. “AlertMedia has allowed us to build a more robust emergency response plan,” says Bilbro.

Bilbro concludes, “We got a lot of feedback from staff after the winter storms that they were happy to have a communication system in place to stay in touch. Our team managers also feel more comfortable knowing that we always have a way to quickly communicate. AlertMedia has given our managers peace of mind and helped improve our safety program.”

“AlertMedia has allowed us to build a more robust emergency response plan. Our team feels more comfortable knowing that we always have a way to quickly communicate.”

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