Florida county struggles with understaffed 911 call center | National Politics

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Broward County’s emergency call center is vastly 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.

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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 newest month for which statistics can be found.

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 yr, mentioned county authorities doesn’t transfer rapidly, 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.”

The SunSentinel story talked about the home hearth, 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.

County commissioners appeared pissed off by a few of the non-answers they obtained and puzzled the way it obtained up to now.

”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 essentially 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.

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