Whether you’re concerned about an earthquake in Haiti, a super typhoon in the Philippines, or an epidemic in Africa, global disasters are a fact of life. Some strike without warning while others are predictable. In either case, emergency preparedness can save lives and reduce losses. Whether you are involved in a non-profit organization or are serving on an international emergency preparedness planning committee, international conference calling can be used to communicate with others around the world before, during, and after an event.
Using International Conference Calls Before an Emergency
As with any major undertaking, a successful emergency response often results from extensive pre-emergency planning. While you have many communication and collaboration tools available in the emergency preparedness planning phase, global conference calls are an affordable, real-time choice that do not require any special technology or equipment. In fact, you can get no contract, pay-as-you-go access to exceptional international conference calling services.
Once you’ve signed up for an international conference calling plan, collaborating with other emergency response coordinators around the globe is a simple matter of dialing into a “conference room.” Each participant dials a phone number that’s local to their specific countries to access the global conference call. Depending on how your particular international conference calling plan works and your preferences, these international access numbers might even be toll free numbers. From there, each participant is prompted to enter the conference’s PIN number which then connects them to the call.
One of the benefits of using international conference calling is that you can record the calls and make them available to other participants afterward. For example, if a key team member can’t attend the call at the time, he could listen to it after the fact and receive the same information the rest of the team received earlier.
During the planning phase, you can use global conference calls for any number of purposes including:
- Committee meetings
- Volunteer orientation and training sessions
- Coordinating shipments of supplies before an emergency
- Conferencing with government officials
- Conferencing with first responders
- Conferencing with nonprofit organizations
Using International Conference Calls During an Emergency
While high winds, driving rain, floodwaters, and other perils wreak havoc on an area, it soon becomes apparent that it’s time to implement your plan. Unless you’re in the midst of the catastrophe, you can begin to mobilize your team by using international conference calling services.
In the case of a hurricane or typhoon where there’s usually a few days’ warning, you may want to schedule your global conference calls in advance to check in with the team periodically and start taking action.
In other cases, your global conference calls will need to take place on an impromptu basis. This is where an international conference calling service’s “moderator dial out” or automated dialing feature comes in handy. These features allow you to preprogram a group of participants and their phone numbers into the international conference calling system. When you need to hold an emergency conference call, there’s no need to send out email invitations and hope your participants receive the message and are able to dial into the call at the last minute. Instead, you initiate the global conference call and the system automatically dials each participant at the phone number you’ve already programmed in.
As with your earlier global conference calls, you can record your teleconference and make the recording available to other team members who missed the live call. Use international conference calling during an emergency to:
- Inform your team that an emergency has occurred
- Share information
- Delegate tasks
- Coordinate relief efforts with other first responders, nonprofits, or governmental agencies
Using International Conference Calls After an Emergency
Global conference calls are also useful in the aftermath of an emergency as many of your team members will be traveling to and from the disaster site. In fact, some of your team members may find themselves in countries with substandard telecommunications networks or excessive international long distance costs during an airport layover. Not only can you issue these team members local or toll free numbers to use to access your global conference call from these countries, their calls will be routed over your international conference calling service provider’s reliable, high quality telecommunications network.
Use international conference calls after an emergency to:
- Stay in touch with your team
- Share new information
- Coordinate shipments
- Hold global press conferences
- Connect international experts to locals on the ground
It’s important to note that international conference calling works with all types of phones including satellite phones. If the local telecommunications infrastructure is damaged, as it often is, satellite phones are a must. If you are on a humanitarian mission, you may even want to use your satellite phone in conjunction with international conference calling to help local survivors call their family members around the world.