CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center Uses AlertMedia to Navigate Hurricane Harvey

People Data

Accessed employee contact information quickly and seamlessly

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Reliability

Stayed up and running when they were faced with a devastating weather event

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Communication

Contacted key stakeholders and kept their people safe throughout Hurricane Harvey

Continuity

Maintained operations during the storm and delivered blood to hospitals in need

Industry
Healthcare

Locations
170

Employees
630

Products
Emergency Communication Software

Primary Uses
Emergency, Business Continuity, Inclement Weather

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is a non-profit organization that began operations in 1975. They serve the Texas Gulf Coast region as well as the largest medical complex in the world (the Texas Medical Center in Houston).

The Blood Center’s 630 employees are tasked with collecting 800 donations every day to help maintain blood supplies at more than 170 hospitals. As every donation can save up to three lives, The Blood Center’s mission and purpose is absolutely critical.

When Hurricane Harvey dumped torrential rainfall on the greater Houston area, the damage and loss of life was overwhelming. Without AlertMedia’s emergency notification system in place, The Blood Center would have experienced challenges contacting team members throughout the storm. They needed guidance on whether or not to return to work and help service those who were also affected by the storm.

In the eye of a hurricane, loss of service could mean loss of life

As told to AlertMedia by DeKeitra Fitzgerald, Claims and Safety Manager at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.

Prior to adopting AlertMedia, The Blood Center’s emergency notification system had come up short in multiple ways. Their previous provider had a small support team, which made reaching them problematic. They were slow to respond, and simply couldn’t provide the level of support The Blood Center desperately needed.

During a fire incident, when they truly needed to keep their people safe and informed, their previous communications system was not reliable. Right when it mattered most, they were unable to contact impacted staff and maintain the flow of their operations.

DeKeitra Fitzgerald, Claims and Safety Manager at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, knew they were long overdue for a reliable solution. For DeKeitra, who is responsible for the center’s employee and donor safety—it wasn’t a matter of if a crisis would strike again, but when.

Her answer came in 2017 during one of the most active hurricane seasons on record.

Catastrophic flooding requires quick delivery of multi-channel messages

As told to AlertMedia by DeKeitra Fitzgerald, Claims and Safety Manager at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.

In late August of 2017, the Texas Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm. The system intensified over warm gulf waters before making landfall on San José Island, Texas. Although Harvey had weakened by the time it hit Houston, the storm stalled over the heavily populated metro area for two days. It unleashed massive flooding, debilitating the infrastructure of the entire region.

The Gulf Coast Blood Center, with headquarters in the heart of Houston, launched into crisis mode. There’s always a need for timely delivery of blood to hospitals who use blood products daily. But that need is never more pronounced than in the throes of a life-impacting crisis. The situation was especially critical because blood was still needed throughout the Greater Houston area as rainfall and torrential flooding grew worse.

Up until Harvey, The Blood Center had primarily used AlertMedia’s communication software to conduct quarterly tests, a best practice for any business. In fact, the center found itself well-prepared for a crisis thanks to the drills they had run leading up to Harvey. Now it was time to enact their plan for a real-life scenario.

“During Hurricane Harvey, AlertMedia made communications with our staff so much easier.”

First course of action: immediately contact key business stakeholders and employees in danger. Due to downed power lines and a compromised electrical grid, phone service in the area was spotty. Without a dependable communications system in place, The Blood Center would have struggled to reach its people.

But unlike their past provider, AlertMedia quickly and successfully delivered messages to their staff across multiple channels and devices.

AlertMedia’s conference call feature keeps everyone connected and informed

As told to AlertMedia by DeKeitra Fitzgerald, Claims and Safety Manager at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.

Fortunately, AlertMedia’s conference call feature, which allows users to quickly loop necessary parties into a call (either individually or by preset groups), ended up serving as The Blood Center’s primary method of communication. AlertMedia allowed The Blood Center to instantly contact executives and directors to discuss necessary plans and procedures.

Thanks to uninterrupted communications, The Blood Center was able to coordinate plans for continued blood delivery to hospitals. They were also able to inform staff of canceled drives and when they’d reopen. The need for a steady supply of blood is a constant necessity, and it doesn’t let up when crisis strikes.

Because AlertMedia is equipped with a two-way messaging interface, the center utilized status updates from their people (along with read confirmations) to account for all team members. This helped DeKeitra coordinate scheduling, determine who had the all-clear to come into work, and identify who might need assistance.

With facilities spanning the Gulf Coast Region, AlertMedia played a vital role in keeping the entire center operational during Hurricane Harvey. Beyond helping The Blood Center navigate one of the costliest disasters in U.S. history, AlertMedia has proved to be an invaluable ongoing resource.

The center uses AlertMedia to run fire drills and group employees for department/team-specific messaging (such as an emergency response team). In addition, DeKeitra is impressed with AlertMedia’s stellar customer support and continued personal attention and care.

“AlertMedia was very useful during Harvey. If The Blood Center finds itself in the path of another dangerous storm, I feel a level of comfort knowing that AlertMedia will rise to the challenge and help keep our people safe.”

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