Broward County’s emergency call center is significantly understaffed and the sheriff informed county commissioners his company doesn’t have the cash to fill the empty positions.
In addition, Sheriff Gregory Tony mentioned Tuesday that he’s additionally having a troublesome time retaining different dispatchers who can make more cash elsewhere.
“We’re going to continue to lose these people,” he warned. “This will always be a problem here whether we want to admit it or not.”
Some Broward County Commissioners informed the sheriff to repair the problems instantly.
“Give everybody a raise … and you won’t lose anybody,” Commissioner Mark Bogen informed the sheriff. “You got the money to do that right now without us giving you a penny.”
Tony informed commissioners Tuesday he’s not going to make “random or quick decisions” that may create different issues. He agreed to make a presentation outlining monetary wants on the May 10 fee assembly.
The understaffing got here to mild in a South Florida SunSentinel investigation that documented 1000’s of unanswered 911 calls. The newspaper discovered that deserted calls, these that are disconnected earlier than they’re answered, elevated 26% from 2019 to 2021. In February, there have been 14,505 deserted calls. That is the most recent month for which statistics can be found.
Currently, there are 92 openings for 911 dispatchers in Broward County. Tony says many who depart go to different cities and counties for higher salaries. Those who stay work 12-hour, or typically 16-hour, shifts to maintain up with the call quantity.
“They’re juggling 15 balls within the air with the expectation that one in every of them won’t ever drop, that’s unfair,” Tony said. “We want extra personnel, we’ve got to be aggressive and the very best on this nation bc we’re going to proceed to lose these individuals.”
Sheriff’s officers mentioned excessive stress and pay that’s not aggressive are causes for the understaffing.
Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, who served because the state’s emergency administration director till final 12 months, mentioned county authorities doesn’t transfer shortly, sending points to committees earlier than something occurs. “I look at this as a real-time problem.”
He cited for example a home in Hollywood that burned to the bottom final month after calls to 911 went unanswered.
“Problems don’t get better with time in emergency management, they get worse,” Moskowitz said. “What happened in this instance was a tragedy, and the sheriff is telling us it’s going to happen again.”
Judy Garwood spoke to NBC 6 concerning the fast-moving fireplace at her Hollywood dwelling on April 10 that left her and her boyfriend homeless.
“Everybody expects 911 to answer the phone. Four times, I have it on my phone, four times where I called,” Garwood mentioned.
On the day of the fireplace, Garwood listened to the telephone ring for six or seven minutes. She hung up and known as again a complete of thrice, however no dispatcher ever answered.
“I used to be freaking out, what within the heck? All the neighbors have been out right here calling,” Garwood said. “We don’t have a automobile, they drove to the fireplace station over right here on Dixie and the fireplace woman herself mentioned, ’We knew nothing about this till they knocked on the door.'”
The SunSentinel story talked about the home fireplace, together with different examples of individuals whose 911 calls went unanswered. These included a person with a medical emergency and a household whose child was turning blue, and later died after the daddy took the kid to the hospital.
Moskowitz requested for “the number is to fix this,” whether or not it was $250,000 or $500,000. “If dollars help address this, then let’s just appropriate the dollars.”
Tony didn’t have a quantity immediately, however mentioned he’ll get it prepared for commissioners. “We’ll come back with a needs request,” he mentioned.
Garwood is grateful she survived the fireplace. BSO mentioned dispatchers tried to call her again after she hung up, and that they obtained a police officer to reply to her dwelling two minutes after her first 911 call.
But Garwood mentioned she by no means noticed an officer on the scene.
“That’s not true, I by no means noticed any police officer right here in any respect,” she said. “Fire individuals, the Hollywood Department, they mentioned if 911 would’ve answered, I’d’ve misplaced this one room, I wouldn’t have misplaced each single factor.”
County commissioners appeared annoyed by a few of the non-answers they obtained and questioned the way it obtained so far.
”Is Broward assembly the nationwide requirements?” Commissioner Steve Geller requested, referring to expectations that 90% of emergency calls get answered inside 15 seconds.
“Yes, there are occasions where we fall short,” Sheriff’s Colonel Nichole Anderson responded. ”For probably the most half we’re assembly it,” she mentioned. “More times than not” the company meets its requirements.
”It’s the qualifier you retain including on the finish that’s bothering me,” Geller mentioned.
BSO advisable residents do the next within the meantime to assist alleviate the issue:
- Only call 911 if it’s a true emergency. BSO mentioned a part of the issue is non-emergency callers taking on the dear time of dispatchers who have to give attention to emergency calls.
- BSO urged residents to call the non-emergency quantity for issues like loud events or fireworks. The non-emergency quantity is (954) 764-HELP (4357).