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Daring rescues

Volunteer marines save lives with cloud tech

The waves crashed upon the fishing boat.

It was a rough night shrimping in the Australian ocean. The wind was howling, and the boat had started taking on water. And then, within seconds, the unspeakable happened.

"Man overboard!"

The crew tried to throw a line to the sinking seaman, but he was too far out. What started as a routine haul was about to become a tragedy.

Suddenly a light appeared in the distance. And the faint hum of a second engine roared into the area.

"This is Marine Rescue Queensland!"

The approaching vessel shined a spotlight on the helpless sailor and soon had him safely onboard. Rescue skipper Dave had done it again.

Consultant by day. Hero by night.

As a volunteer with Marine Rescue Queensland, Dave had done it all: tending to medical emergencies, rescuing drifting vessels, even helping ships that had run aground. Of course, the day-to-day wasn’t typically quite so action-packed and usually involved simply practicing for things like this. And he loved all of it.

These occasional, daring rescues were a far cry from his desk job as a consultant for Empired, a cloud computing company.

Or was it?

In fact, the same software he works with on a daily basis let him know the boat tonight was in danger. He should know: he designed it.

A few months ago, Dave noticed something. The computers of his squadron were out of sync. Every squadron ran on different software versions, making sharing information practically impossible. Backup files were nonexistent and volunteers had to be physically present in front of a computer to see files.

Standardizing data transmission via the cloud helps Marine Rescue Queensland save lives at sea.

As a result, it was challenging for each squadron’s headquarters to know what was going on in the field, or make sure everyone across each squadron had the same, latest training.

Dave could see how the outdated systems were affecting rescue, and with his knowledge of cloud computing, he knew there was a better way.

As a consultant for cloud computing specialists Empired, he knew SharePoint could usher in a new era for Marine Rescue Queensland. He took it upon himself to share his idea and expertise with leadership, and they agreed. Soon, they partnered with Empired to solve the ocean-sized challenge in front of them.

Sailing into a brave IT frontier.

Updating systems for a large, floating organization is no easy task. The all-volunteer group totaled over 1,500 active volunteers, spread over 25 squadrons and 2,700 kilometers.

The first order of business was implementing a system to manage documents across the huge organization. Empired’s solution uses a satellite/hub design to provide sites for each squadron in a new, simple portal that lets skippers share content. The SharePoint system, which runs on Office 365, lets them easily share knowledge amongst squadrons.

“In a rescue environment, having access to the most up-to-date policies and procedures can literally be the difference between life and death.”

- Keith Williams, President of Marine Rescue Queensland

In addition to being a place to share documents, the system displays incidents on maps. They can even see how much fuel squadrons have, so they can always be sure they have the resources to save lives.

Now the entire organization can stay in the loop. No matter if there's a broken leg in Point Danger, or a stingray sting in Moreton Bay, "We can see what other squadrons are doing and implement best practice procedures," Williams continues. "This type of knowledge-sharing can literally save lives.”

After Dave's daring rescue, for example, he uploaded photos to the SharePoint portal.

The portal gave his squadron’s headquarters immediate access to a flow of information and visuals so they could see what was happening, discuss it and provide input and feedback. "For us that was a complete revelation," Williams says.

In less than 24 hours, management integrated the incident into trainings. Now the lessons learned have benefited the entire organization.

Sailing away to another rescue.

Only a few months after the new system was in place, the computers at Dave’s squadron broke down. Luckily, the shift to Office 365 arrived just in time to save their files from the dark abyss of a computer crash.

By using their free time and resources to save lives, every skipper-volunteer in Marine Rescue Queensland is a hero. But now, thanks to Skipper Dave's quick thinking and Empired's innovation, they can save even more lives from the angry deep. There's no telling what tomorrow night will bring, but with the right technology, they can be ready for anything the ocean throws at them.

Empired Ltd

Partner recognition

Empired Ltd is a national IT Services Provider in Australia, with a broad range of capabilities and a reputation for delivering enterprise class IT service and solutions.

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