Broward to improve 911 dispatch
SUNRISE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A decade-long fight to improve 911 response times ended with a victory after commissioners voted to approve a system that could potentially save more lives, but it comes with a big price tag.
When lives are on the line, location does not spare someone clinging to the phone, desperate for help.
Because so many cries for help come through a cell phone, emergency calls in Broward County register to the closest cell tower, not dispatch center. "After you've given all your information about why it's so urgent or your daughter's hurt or somebody is drowning," said Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan, "they realize they can't send help, have to transfer call to another place, and it starts all over again."
It almost cost a couple running from an attacker their lives. "The call itself doesn't get transferred with any date," said Ryan, "so what happens is the next dispatcher gets it and she or he has to start all over again."
Tuesday, Broward County commissioners narrowly voted to switch emergency 911 control from each separate city to a unified, countywide system. The goal is to eliminate that dangerous time-consuming process of transferring 911 calls. Instead of calls transferring to one of 11 different 911 dispatch centers, the switch will create just three central locations.
It's an emergency change-over that will cost Broward County $43 million, a little less than half of that, $20.3 million, will come from an increase to property taxes, an average increase of $21 extra per home. "There is going to be a savings to cities," noted Coral Springs Vice Mayor Tom Powers, "because the county is now picking up the cost. They're not paying for radio anymore."
Exceptions include the cities of Coral Springs and Plantation. Their 911 calls will stay within the city limits, in the same system they have had for years. "Phone calls will still come in," said Powers. "There is actually the technology out there to handle all the issues they've been talking about as far as cell phones because the FCC has said, within two years, we have to adopt this technology that's already out there."
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