Cisco has a special team called Tactical Operations that swoops in after natural disasters to get Internet and telephone service back up, so that rescue workers can do their jobs.
The work is emotionally challenging. For example, the team went to the Philippines just after Typhoon Haiyan killed 4,000 people, injured another 18,000 and displaced four million. They saw mass destruction and suffering, team member Tim Woods, told Business Insider.
“There’s extreme sadness and devastation. You know it’s very dire situation, so you have to have an A-game on. You are there to help,” Woods explains.
But it’s also extremely gratifying, network engineer Rakesh Bharania says. After arriving in the Philippines, the team was driving a military truck through a rural area between cities, areas that a few days earlier were filled with villages. Rescue workers hadn’t gotten to this part of the country, so survivors were walking or hitchhiking to the nearest city to get help, 60 miles away.
The truck stopped to pick up four women who had lost their homes and were looking for missing family members.
“It was very clear that we were foreigners,” Bharania said. “One of us was from China, two from the States. This woman grabbed my hand and said, ‘You are such a blessing.'”
Although the women didn’t understand the technical nature of the work, they knew that “People from the outside world were caring about them and they were really thankful,” he said.
Cisco donates all equipment, supplies, transportation, covers all the costs. The team consists of 10 full time workers and another 300 or so employees who volunteer as needed, Bharania tells Business Insider.