On the heels of National Disaster Preparedness Week, Extend Communications today put one of its disaster plans to the test, and evacuated staff to a backup call centre location across town, completely unannounced. Unlike a normal “fire drill” that might see staff hanging out in a parking lot for a few minutes before returning to work, Extend wanted to simulate a major disaster by re-locating staff.

At approximately 1pm EST managers pulled the fire alarm, and everyone evacuated the building.  Unsure of the situation, staff were concerned not only for themselves, but also for the potential phone calls that could go unanswered; even though a contingent of regularly scheduled home-based staff were able to continue handling calls.  At the meeting post outside, the emergency was declared “significant”, and employees car pooled to Extend’s backup call centre location, powering up the equipment standing by for just such an emergency.  Operations were managed from the backup site for about an hour, before staff returned to the main office.

“Many of our clients are in the emergency services field themselves, and it is imperative that we be able to operate continuously under all circumstances”, said Extend President Scott Lyons.  “This was the first time we have been able to do a complete test of our backup site, and it was a very successful exercise.”

Of the hundreds of phone calls affected by this simulated emergency, only a single call was missed when the caller hung up after waiting on hold for less than a minute and a half.