Broward 911
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

When people call 911 for an emergency in Broward County, the closest ambulance or fire truck isn't always the one they get.


That's changing. 


This week the county started to roll out an initiative, called "Closest Unit Response," to track the vehicle closest to the emergency, and send it no matter what municipality the emergency may be in. 


Broward County Commission
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

The dispute between Broward County and City of Hollywood officials over where to put a new 911 radio tower is one step closer to solution. 

County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve an agreement with Hollywood with provisions for choosing an independent expert to pick the site for the new tower as early as the end of this month .

Hollywood 911
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

City of Hollywood commissioners met again Wednesday to talk about where to put a new 911 radio tower.


Commissioners worked out key terms they want included in an agreement with Broward County in order to choose a location for the tower, after nine months of back-and-forth. 

It's an incremental step forward: Hollywood staff can now draft an actual agreement, which commissioners will vote on next week. Broward's county commission will also have to vote on the agreement.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

This post was updated at 5:25 p.m.

Police chiefs in Broward are pushing for the sheriff's office (BSO) to take over management of the regional 911 communications system from the county.

west lake park
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Broward County Commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward with building a 911 radio tower in West Lake Park in Hollywood. It's a part of a bigger upgrade to the county's 911 radio system. 

The vote was eight to one, with the County Commissioner whose district includes Hollywood, Beam Furr, opposed. 

Associated Press / WLRN

Broward County commissioners will vote  Tuesday on whether to allow a new 911 radio tower to be built in a Hollywood park.

The tower under debate is part of a highly-anticipated upgrade to the county's regional 911 public safety radio system, which will see a total of seven new towers added. It comes after problems with communication during the shootings at  Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2017  and again at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

The New System

Associated Press / WLRN

The tug-of-war over where to build a giant 911 communications tower resumed Wednesday as Hollywood commissioners double downed on their efforts to keep it out of a family park.

County officials own the park, but need city approval because it’s in Hollywood.

So far, they’re not getting it.

Tracy Jackson
Courtesy of Broward County / WLRN

There's a new person in charge of emergency management in Broward County.

Tracy Jackson started as the director of regional public safety and emergency services at the end of May, days before this year's hurricane season began. In addition to hurricane preparation, he now oversees Broward's regional 911 system. 

Jackson began his career as a firefighter in the  Miami Fire Rescue Department in 1982. He was the division chief of support services during and after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, heading up logistics.

Palm Beach County 911 Now Accepts Text Messages

Jun 27, 2018
Markus Spiske / Flickr/Creative Commons

People living in Palm Beach County have a new way to reach 911 in an emergency: by text message.

Anyone in the county with a cell phone can send a text to 911 describing their emergency. The message will immediately begin a text conversation with an operator - just like a call.

“We will be able to text back and determine what the emergency is and get you the appropriate resources - police, fire, paramedics,” said Natalie Heneks, communications supervisor at Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

This Apple Update Could Prove To Be A True Lifesaver

Jun 18, 2018

With about 80 percent of 911 calls made from mobile devices, it's sometimes difficult for emergency responders to pinpoint the location of those callers.

Associated Press / WLRN

Broward County’s 911 system was widely criticized after communication failures during the 2017 airport shooting in Fort Lauderdale. Now it's under scrutiny again for similar failures during the Parkland shooting. 

Files show that critical upgrades have been recommended on the system since at least 2016; most were never made.

An unconscious woman, a robbery in progress, cars racing on the interstate: All of these incidents led people to call Houston's 911 system — but not for long. These were among thousands of calls that were cut short by an operator who Harris County prosecutors said simply hung up on the callers.

That former operator is Crenshanda Williams, who has been sentenced to 10 days in jail and 18 months of probation on two counts of interfering with an emergency telephone call.

Most people are familiar with some form of triage: When you go to an emergency room, you first sit down with a triage nurse who records your symptoms, takes your vital signs and assesses the urgency of your medical need.

As of Thursday, that's happening over the phone for 911 callers in Washington, D.C., where triage nurses now sit alongside 911 dispatchers to help field calls.