Broward County has invested millions in a new emergency response system experts say is helping firefighters and officers to respond to emergencies faster.
“You as a resident at home when you call 911, you want the closest available unit to come handle your emergency,” said Sunrise Fire Rescue Chief John McNamara.
That’s already happening over a section of Broward. It’s one of many improvements made to the county’s emergency system after issues were revealed in the response to the shooting in Parkland three years ago.
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New communications towers and new radios for every police officer and firefighter went online two months ago. There were also updates made to the 911 system.
“This new system grabs that unit, sends them to your house and gets you there much faster than the older system,” McNamara explained.
If you live in Sunrise, Lauderhill, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Tamarac, or Fort Lauderdale, the closest firefighters and paramedics will show up at your door even if they work for a different city.
McNamara showed us how the device in the emergency units sends a signal to the computer at the traffic intersection to turn the light green when they are less than a mile away.
“Once we turn the lights on, it activates the traffic preemption system,” McNamara said. “It allows us to essentially control the traffic devices from inside the vehicle.”
McNamara told us the new traffic system helped them getting the FBI agents shot earlier this month to the hospital in record time.
“They were some of the fastest response times that our agency has participated in leaving our community and getting to the trauma center at Broward General Medical center,” he said.
But when it comes to having everyone on board with the new 911 and radio system, some say more needs to be done.
“I do think it falls short of where it needed to be addressed,” said retired Fort Lauderdale Sergeant Robert Borowski.
After two decades, Borowski left police work where he was a communications expert. He told us as the liaison to the county for the new radio system, he wanted every city in Broward on board. But as NBC 6 Investigators previously reported, Coral Springs and Plantation are not currently part of it.
“My plan was very detailed to include every agency including fire. It’s not just law enforcement because I felt it was important that we had all aspects of first responders represented in this communications plan,” Borowski said.
Both Coral Springs and Plantation told us they are confident in the systems they have in place to communicate with other Broward agencies when necessary and have their own plans to make emergency responses even more efficient.