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Case Study

Expediting Help to Agencies Hit by Sandy

Zetron and its resellers expedited equipment orders and deliveries to public-safety and law-enforcement agencies on the East Coast whose communications systems—and lives—were severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

In late October, Hurricane Sandy ravaged communities along the Eastern Seaboard from Florida to Maine. Technically a “post-tropical cyclone” by the time it made landfall, the storm was still powerful enough to wreak unprecedented damage to parts of New Jersey and New York City’s boroughs. Its surge swamped the New York City subway system and flooded streets in Manhattan’s financial district. Portions of “The City That Never Sleeps” were without power and dark for days.

Many of the region’s police and fire departments were seriously affected by the storm. Some agencies suffered major if not total damage to structures and equipment. And many police and fire fighters’ homes suffered extensive damage as well.

But these are the types of circumstances that often reveal the strength of the bonds that exist between members of a community, including the public-safety community Zetron serves. All Service Controls of Oceanside, New York; Quality Communications of Lakewood, New Jersey; and Comtronics Wireless Communications of Quincy, Massachusetts are just a few Zetron resellers who rallied with Zetron to help customers get back on their feet under very difficult circumstances.

‘The surge flooded Long Beach’

Long Island was hit hard by Sandy, especially the city of Long Beach on Long Island’s southern coast. “The surge flooded Long Beach, including their fire department,” says Paul Grim, owner of All Service Controls. “The Long Beach fire station lost everything on the ground level. Water in the central fire house rose to 4½ feet. It didn’t reach their dispatch center one floor up, but power surges and generator failures made their dispatching sporadic and undependable.”

Long Beach Fire was able to do minimal dispatching from its mobile-command vehicle, but this setup provided only partial functionality. Eager to restore full dispatch communications as quickly as possible, Long Beach Fire contacted Paul Grim to help them find replacement dispatch equipment.

He had a solution for them within a matter of days.

“We’d recently purchased a Zetron Model 4010 standalone dispatch console for Oceanside, which is near Long Beach” says Grim. “Oceanside wasn’t yet using it, so I got their permission to loan the console to Long Beach. The next day, we took the 4010 from Oceanside to Long Beach, got it up and running, and Long Beach Fire was able to resume full dispatching. We also helped restore several repeaters and communications for the City and for the communities of Island Park and Lawrence-Cedarhurst.”

A life saver

Grim says that he was the recipient as well as the provider of post-Sandy help. And the help in his case wasn’t limited to equipment.

“Kip Wilson [Zetron’s territory manager for the Northeastern U.S.] called and asked, ‘What do you need?’ ‘Food, fuel and generators,’ I told him. So he drove down with all of those things. When he first arrived, I couldn’t even offer him a cup of coffee because we had no power. Thanks to Kip, we had food that would tide us over, and I was able to set up a generator at home and work from there. Kip was a life saver!”

Top of the list

Expediting Zetron’s ordering and shipping process was another factor that helped ensure replacement equipment could be delivered as quickly as possible to those who needed it. In fact, this is Zetron’s policy at such times. “Those who need help go to the top of the list, whether they’ve been a Zetron customer in the past or not,” says Scott McGinnes, Zetron’s inside sales manager for the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S.

In some cases, paperwork also had to be finessed. “Some municipal buildings were wiped out, so our customers didn’t even have access to purchase orders,” says Quality Communications senior account manager, Dick Cottrell. “But people at Zetron just said, ‘Let’s get the equipment ordered and shipped; we’ll deal with the paper work later.’ This helped tremendously because, frankly, there was no paper to be had!”

“Our shop is located just 20 miles north of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, where Sandy made landfall,” Cottrell continues. “Many of our customers were affected. The police station at Highlands, a few miles from ‘ground zero,’ went entirely underwater. Thanks to the streamlined ordering process, we had a new Zetron dispatch console ready for them as soon as they got a trailer to put it in. This will be their ‘temporary’ location, but temporary might be as long as a two or three years. That’s how long they expect it will take them to rebuild.”

‘The console never missed a beat’

At Seaside Heights, another location on the Jersey Shore, the hunkering, partially submerged wreckage of a roller coaster has become a symbol of the extreme damage Sandy brought to the town. So it’s something of a surprise to discover that their police department’s dispatching operations continued without interruption throughout the storm. This was due in large part to Quality Communications’ recent update of their Zetron Series 4000 dispatch system.

“I got a text from the Seaside PD saying that while everything was falling apart around them, their Zetron system was working absolutely perfectly,” says Cottrell. “The console never missed a beat; it performed perfectly the whole time.”

Lighting strike

Farther north, in Whitman, Massachusetts, Comtronics Wireless Communications had recently installed a new, two-position Zetron Series 4000 dispatch system at the Whitman Police Department. A severe lightning strike—yet another effect of Sandy—destroyed both of the consoles.

Comtronics and Zetron went into high gear. “Working with Comtronics, we immediately shipped them a temporary replacement to get them back online,” says Kip Wilson. “Then we upgraded them to Zetron’s MAX Dispatch system as soon as they were ready.”

The right thing

Actions like these obviously aren’t enough to restore an entire community, but this is where restoration begins. And while it’s often said that good customer care is good business, in the face of a disaster like Sandy, it becomes abundantly clear that helping those affected by such an event is also the right thing to do.

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