Broward mayors, first responders demand EOC to address staffing concerns

PLANTATION, FLA. (WSVN) - Mayors and first responders across Broward County are demanding the county’s Emergency Operations Center address their staffing concerns, saying they are not getting the help they need from the EOC.

7News was contacted by several Broward mayors expressing their concerns with how the EOC is handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer is working from home because he has COVID-19. He said the EOC is not open long enough hours and is not coordinating the ordering and delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves and gowns.

Instead, he said, cities are mostly left to find the gear on their own.

“The EOC being activated more than it currently is is going to be desperately needed already, but in the coming days and weeks, as this gets worse, and it’s going to get worse,” Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer said. “We need their assistance. There should be one constant mission, which is Broward County should be aggregating those essentials that we all need in this community. Doesn’t matter if you’re in north county, south county, east county, west county, we need it here in the county.”

Cities across the county are coordinating their coronavirus response and are searching for more personal protective equipment, such as gowns, masks and gloves.

The firefighters union and Broward Medical Association are also not happy with the EOC. They have since wrote a letter to the county commission that asks the EOC to do a better job organizing the supply chain.

“The county is the one who should be coordinating those efforts, and that is not happening at the county level,” Broward Council of Fire Fighters President Scott Bayne said.

Sunrise Mayor Michael Ryan has also been concerned about EOC staffing. He wrote the county administrator at the end of March, “The patchwork of efforts and the inevitable change in conditions here demand greater forethought and cooperation before the tsunami hits … not as the waves are crashing.”

Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry responded in part, “Some of your recommendations are not appropriate at this time but may be later as things escalate. Our concern is burn out for our teams, recognizing this event is projected to go on for some time and hurricane season is around the corner. “

When asked about Henry’s response, Ryan said, “That is because they are using a hurricane paradigm and believe they have to have everybody for every function in that building, and that is just not the case in a pandemic.”

Medical personnel and the mayors are asking the EOC to be open about 12 hours a day from sunrise to sunset.

“You are creating burn out in the cities,” Ryan said. “We are all doing the same functions against each other, rather than having it centralized, and we are wasting our own precious resources.”

The Broward County Commission met Tuesday morning and spoke for several hours about many COVID-19 issues, but they never brought up the situation at the EOC.

For a second day in a row, 7News reached out to the county for comment about the EOC but have yet to hear back.

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