Imagine calling 911 and the call-taker never answered, or the help they sent never responded to, an emergency call. Unthinkable, of course.
Recently, the Broward police and fire chiefs associations issued a joint statement highlighting how the consolidated E911 system is currently managed by county employees lacking vital E911 operational experience. The chiefs called for changes. We should heed their “E-call” and professionalize the most important public safety system in the county.
In 2002, the voters of Broward County overwhelmingly supported a charter amendment establishing a county-funded communications infrastructure for fire and emergency medical services. Over the next decade, important steps toward interoperability were taken, but we still had 10 independent E911 dispatch centers across Broward County. This resulted in unacceptable delays in emergency-call handling and less-than-transparent performance reporting.
Report after report recommended the cooperative consolidation of the E-911 communications and dispatch system into three centers.
Such consolidation was intended to improve safety for those needing help and first responders, eliminate call transfers that caused delays in emergency response, achieve cost savings and promote cost-effective migration to new technologies.
Local government has few responsibilities as important as operating an efficient, responsive and professional E911 system. Whatever strengths the county employees may have in managing technology, the E911 system currently is being governed by those who lack the expertise to make sound operational recommendations and decisions.
When we call for help, our public-safety professionals respond rapidly. When they call for help, we must take action.
vice-chair, Broward County Consolidated Communications Committee, Sunrise