Living In Harmony: How SaskTel’s Integrated Business Communications Solution is Helping Wildlife

We sat down with Executive Director, Bonnie Dell, and President and Volunteer Manager, Rhiain Clarke, to learn more about how SaskTel has enabled better systems for the Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan is known internationally for its natural scenery. People visit our south-western corner year-round to experience the beauty of Cypress Hills, they flock to the boreal forests in the north during fishing and hunting season, and they drive for hundreds of kilometres through our land of “living skies”. As good neighbours in a sanctuary province for thousands of wildlife species, it is our responsibility to respect them and ensure their safety and well-being. This is precisely the mandate of the Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan (WRSOS), a non-profit organization that has been looking out for our furry and feathered friends since 2006.

“We are unique in Canada. No one has a provincial Helpline and rescue organization. That’s something we’re really proud of,” says Bonnie Dell, the executive director of WRSOS. “People would phone us, either to our hotline volunteers or our students in our busy months in the summer. They then decide what the best course of action is for that animal.”


Left: Bonnie Dell, Executive Director Right: Rhiain Clarke, President and Helpline/Volunteer Manager

Bonnie Dell, like all WRSOS’s members, started out as a volunteer. It’s a labour of love, something Rhiain Clarke - President of the Board of Directors and a Helpline and Volunteer Manager - knows well. She became familiar with WRSOS after finding an injured hawk on the side of Highway 39. She was so impressed by the passion and professionalism of the volunteers who responded that she wanted to get involved with the society.


WRSOS has incredible volunteer retention, and, at any given time, have approximately 130 active volunteers across the province. They range from as south as Estevan to as north as La Ronge. With such a huge network of volunteers, WRSOS is entirely dependent on a reliable and functional telecommunications service.

Before WRSOS adopted SaskTel’s Integrated Business Communications (IBC) solution, they were using what was akin to an answering machine for their phone service. Callers would have to phone the Helpline, leave a message explaining their situation, and leave a number that a volunteer could call to offer further assistance.

“We’re mainly a Helpline, so we needed a good phone system. We sometimes get 50-60 calls a day. Messages pile up.” Dell explains. “Callers were getting frustrated and were phoning elsewhere.” The team then reached out to SaskTel to see what they could do.


SaskTel worked directly with WRSOS and, after asking some questions to better understand WRSOS’s business challenges, SaskTel was able to customize an IBC system to fit their needs. The result was immediately successful. Callers could speak directly with a real person, receive guidance on how to help an animal in need, or have their questions answered without having to wait for a call back. Dell and Clarke are emphatic that being called a “Helpline” means they “want people to know they can call with questions as well.”

WRSOS values approachability, trustworthiness, and honesty. These are key factors in what made them comfortable in working with SaskTel. The helpline is the community link between the first person on the scene with an animal in distress, and the rehabilitation centre or service that will get the animal the help it needs. All of this has been made more efficient with SaskTel’s IBC solution.

“We didn’t really shop around. Because we’re a provincial organization, we automatically went to SaskTel because it’s the province’s carrier.” Dell explains. “So, we approached them to see what they could come up with, and it was the IBC system.”


Yipyip the Coyote

The way WRSOS uses IBC is unique. Unlike most businesses, the Wildlife Rescue Society does not have a physical office of any kind. “I don’t think SaskTel has ever worked with anyone like us before,” Dell says with a laugh.

Some businesses use IBC in its simplest form - a desk phone set and basic voice lines - but IBC is a complete communications system. It can be customized to work how each user wants for voice calls, online meetings, messaging, and other collaboration needs. WRSOS took advantage of the flexibility of IBC. Now, volunteers can simply download the app on their personal smartphones and answer calls from anywhere. In addition, outgoing calls will show up on call display as coming from The Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan, rather than an unfamiliar phone number: an issue they had with their former system.

Dell and Clarke talk about IBC as their provincial switchboard. They even have their own dedicated lines that they can use for administrative purposes. “Because we’re mainly a Helpline, we needed a good phone system. From 2006 to last year, 2022, people would call our Hotline and would have to leave a message. We were not able to answer the calls live.” Dell says.

Since moving to SaskTel’s IBC Solution, the volume of calls they receive has exploded. They received 5,000 calls in 2022. “The IBC system, because we have two lines, can now rotate through our summer students and volunteers meaning our calls can get answered much quicker.” Clarke explains. There was not a single day in 2022 where they did not receive at least one call, including Christmas.

The WRSOS has a 24/7 support line in the province for wildlife related issues. They rely on volunteers to handle shifts by answering calls through SaskTel’s WebEx application. Volunteers are fully available during their shifts, and calls are automatically routed to available IBC users within the Hunt Group.


Ellen the Beaver

The need for an organization like WRSOS is becoming more obvious. “The population of urban wildlife is increasing as cities expand. These are animals that are born and live their whole lives right in our backyards, and we need to establish how we can live with them because it’s the norm now,” Dell says. Despite their valiant efforts, the society only receives about a quarter of the funding they ask for each year, conducting fundraising for the remainder.

SaskTel is proud of their relationship with the WRSOS because of their shared values with the province and all its inhabitants. Dell, Clarke, and their team have shown time and time again how valuable their society is to the province. The future looks bright now that they have a solution to keep them connected anywhere in the land of living skies.

If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call, SaskTel’s Business Team is happy to help. Please call 1.844.SASKTEL (1.844.727.5835)
to speak with a Sales Representative.

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