SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - A new report is suggesting several ways to fix the issues plaguing Broward County’s 911 system.
Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony praised the county’s hardworking 911 call center employees.
“From our call takers to our dispatchers, they’re the first responders,” he said.
But when the system falls short, tragedy can happen.
Back in January, the family of a baby in Deerfield Beach repeatedly called 911 after the infant stopped breathing.
“All it’s doing is ringing, ringing and ringing,” said the child’s father. “I had, like, over five people calling the police.”
The baby did not survive.
In Hollywood, a woman made multiple 911 calls as her home burned to the ground.
“Oh, my God, what is going on here? 911 doesn’t answer?” she said.
In light of these issues, the county authorized a report to identify the problems and come up with possible fixes.
The county fields roughly 2 million 911 calls a year.
“That is a tremendous amount of calls to come into any community,” said Tony. “High volume and understaffing can slow down the process.”
Tony said more personnel is being hired, but that’s not enough.
“We cannot stop at the personnel. The fix report, as you read it, highlights some areas of technology that we all have been advocating for, for quite some time,” he said.
The draft report makes the following recommendations for Broward County:
- Use Rapid SOS, a technology that gives dispatchers more accurate information about a caller’s location, especially if they’re using a cellphone.
- Use automated callback feature, so a dispatcher doesn’t have to take the time to call back someone who hung up before 911 picked up.
- Reducing talk time from an average of 180 seconds to 140 to 150 seconds.
- Adjusting staffing to answer calls within 15 seconds.
Tony said he also wants to do away with regional 911 centers and consolidate them into one.
“To make sure that we are given every single chance to perform — not well — but exceptionally well,” he said. “That is my standard, that is my expectation for our staff. We can’t go to a call, and we can’t survive a call without them.”
The Broward County Commission is expected to discuss the report’s findings at a meeting next week.
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