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Wellington Free Ambulance

Wellington Free Ambulance


  • New Zealand ambulance service relies on Meraki to serve 400,000 inhabitants
  • MR APs and MS Switches help transfer sensitive patient stats and digital docs
  • Painless deployment took only 5 minutes to configure MR APs in the head office

Covering an area with 300,000 to 400,000 inhabitants, Wellington Free Ambulance provides free, world-class paramedic care to the people of the greater Wellington and Wairarapa regions of New Zealand. With only 150 full-time paramedics providing frontline ambulance services, no patient information can be miscommunicated or risk not being delivered. This is where Meraki steps in, acting as the backbone to the communications infrastructure to make sure that the biggest challenge of getting the right information to the right people is the last worry for the IT team.

Previous to discovering Meraki cloud managed products, Bill Viggers, the IT Manager, along with his team, was using a mixture of networking equipment from different vendors. As soon as Bill joined Wellington Free Ambulance, he saw the need for a more secure network, one that could protect and help transfer sensitive information, while offering more robust features to easily manage the network. 

The core network was running on old and unreliable equipment, making the team eager to begin exploring new vendors. As Bill familiarized himself with different options, Meraki quickly stood out amongst the crowd with the intuitive management tool as the key differentiator. The team attended a Meraki webinar and received a MR Access Point (AP). Later, they started a product evaluation for APs and found that the devices “worked really nicely” in the native office environment. 

The management software we get from the Meraki solution would cost a vast amount extra to get from another provider. Also, the single pane of glass simplifies management immensely.Bill Viggers, IT Manager

Every team across the organization depends on the Meraki network, from those in the 111 center taking emergency calls to those in the head office responsible for delivering information to the right parties to the fundraising team who rely on the Meraki network to contact future donors as Wellington Free Ambulance serves the public and relies on public donations to continue its work. In addition, moving to Meraki APs has allowed the teams to be more mobile by enabling them to bring in any device and easily connect to the network versus having to connect to the wired network. 

As more patient information and care documentation are digitized, Wellington Free Ambulance teams rely on the network to load this information, extract data for reporting, and create statistics around cases, success rates, survival rates, incident type, and other trending information, all of which are then routed to government agencies. This high-visibility information can be accurate only if the information being delivered through the communications center to the computer dispatch system to the ambulance and back to the head office is communicated accurately and timely. With MR APs and MS Switches, this can now be done efficiently, while providing IT visibility into network events. 

The team initially underwent a mindshift as they deployed Meraki as the team members were used to using command line. Now, it’s a different way of thinking about things using the GUI interface, allowing them keep the network tidier than ever. 

The installation process was completely painless, taking only 5 minutes to configure all of the APs in the head office. The team is using enterprise authentication, allowing the team to separate trusted and untrusted devices. In addition, separate SSIDs have been set up for guests and staff. Remote troubleshooting has been a lifesaver as the team strived to achieve a centralized reliable network that could be managed remotely. Instead of purchasing third-party vendor applications or software, the lean IT team can use the Meraki dashboard to give the end users “the experience they want, need, and deserve.”