Fire departments are the most common agencies that use ROVER alerting software, but there’s been an increase in different types of agencies implementing Rover into their daily operations and reaping the benefits. One such agency is the non-profit Westmoreland County Animal Rescue Team (CART) in Pennsylvania.
Westmoreland CART handles any local 911 calls involving animals, including technical rescue (like a fire department) or for temporary emergency sheltering (like the Red Cross). Starting out, they initially only covered one county and had 10 volunteer members, but over time the team grew to where it is now – 60 members spread out over three counties (Westmoreland, Fayette, and Allegheny).
Lori Mozina, Westmoreland CART Chief for the past 15 years, says that this quick growth is what made the team turn to Rover about seven years ago. “Before Rover, we were just using a phone tree, or I would individually call people who I knew lived close to the scene,” she said. “Over time our team was growing faster than what we could keep up with in a phone tree type of system. We went from handling one county to two, and then a few years later, three counties. With so many members, we needed a faster way to communicate. So that was the main reason we started to use Rover.”
(Left: Lori Mozina, Westmoreland CART Chief)
The Price is Right
When they initially looked at options, Lori says they quickly ruled out a free state option, ServePA, that other smaller animal rescue teams might use. ServePA is essentially a state-wide database/tracking system meant for PA volunteers (e.g., Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.) to use during state-wide emergencies. “I don’t think it serves what we are looking for,” Lori said. “It might work for a small team, but not for a team as big as ours. It’s not as robust or customizable like Rover.” Before selecting Rover, the Westmoreland CART also looked at ECM. “We went with Rover because of cost,” Lori said. “We’re a non-profit organization and Rover was more affordable and could have more members added onto the system without having it go up in price. The ECM system limited us to 50 contacts, or we had to jump to the next level, which was significantly more money.”
Customization is Key
With 60 volunteers and needs that are different than a typical fire station, Lori says the fact that Rover is customizable was a huge selling point. “We are unique in the sense that when there’s an incident, we don’t want everyone to run to the scene because we might not need everyone,” she said. “The buttons in Rover that we use for the choices that can be picked (responding available, unavailable, etc.), we were able to customize those buttons to those titles. We may want different buttons than a fire department, so being able to customize that is important.”
Once she can see who’s available to respond, Lori says she can then reach out to those members and give them more specific directions. Then they can select “Heading to scene” in Rover. “The timing feature is also nice, to be able to see an ETA,” she added.
Mapping Feature is Critical
Another Rover feature that Lori says is extremely valuable to the team is mapping to the scene. “Because of the size of our team, we need Rover. When you’re dealing with so many areas, it can be difficult – especially with some of the isolated and semi-remote places,” she said. “The mapping feature is critical. It’s good because it identifies the area and gives directions, so we’re not wasting time driving around getting lost. And being able to see who’s responding is really important. If someone closer is responding, then someone an hour away doesn’t have to.”
Lori says one thing that they really like is that every member can see who is responding, and the benefits of that go beyond simply keeping everyone informed. “We’re not like a fire department where we require a response. It’s totally voluntary,” she said. “Since everyone can see who is responding, if no one is responding, there’s a bit of peer pressure there to respond.”
Still More in Store
Lori says there are still features in Rover that they plan to take advantage of. “One thing we have not done that we plan to do is add things to the map,” she said. “We want to add all of the veterinary offices onto the map, so that if we have an animal that needs to go to the closest veterinary office, we can see that. It’s nice we can customize that.”
The Best of Rover, in a Nutshell
When asked what her favorite part of Rover is, Lori couldn’t name just one: “I love the ease of use, and that it’s easy to train new people on the system even if they’re not a trained first responder. Also, the fact that we can see who’s responding is great. And the mapping feature is a big hit with everyone.”