Lauderdale fire chief says Broward abusing mutual aid pact
By Toni Marshall
Posted June 3 2003
Fort Lauderdale's fire chief is charging that Broward County neglects its responsibility to provide enough emergency rescue services in unincorporated central Broward, relying on city paramedic vans to make up for deficiencies.
The county's shortage of emergency services endangers unincorporated residents and unfairly makes city taxpayers pick up the cost, according to letters written in April by Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Otis Latin to Broward County Fire Chief Herminio Lorenzo.
Fort Lauderdale city commissioners have set up a meeting with County Administrator Roger Desjarlais and Lorenzo this afternoon to discuss solutions.
"This appears to be an example of not providing the appropriate resources to a historically heavy call-volume area," Latin said. He accused the county of abusing mutual assistance agreements in which paramedics and firefighters cross jurisdictions to handle emergencies.
The county is relying too heavily on Fort Lauderdale's willingness to help unincorporated residents and needs to pay the city, Latin argued.
Lorenzo said Latin overstates the amount of assistance and, in a letter written on April 28, added, "people who write letters as often as you are writing are either preparing some sort of case or are covering a precious part of their body."
Broward County and Fort Lauderdale disagree on the number of mutual aid calls. County records show they called on Fort Lauderdale 51 times during the first three months of this year. During the same period, Fort Lauderdale's records show 122 calls -- nearly half the runs made last year under mutual aid.
Lorenzo says the growing problem in servicing Central Broward is because of the area's diminished size, as Fort Lauderdale has annexed large neighborhoods in the area. The revenues generated for the protection of the area as well as the number of calls have been reduced, he said.
Fort Lauderdale has proposed servicing unincorporated central Broward for $4 million a year, including upgrading stations and equipment. The county is servicing the area for about $2.3 million.
While government officials squabble, the quality of emergency service may suffer.
"When you are having a heartache, you are happy to see whomever shows up," said Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Carlton Moore, whose district abuts unincorporated central Broward. "You want someone there in less than six minutes to save your life," he said.
The fear is it may be taking too long for emergency help to arrive, Latin said. Emergency units should administer aid within six minutes, the critical point at which brain damage due to lack of oxygen can begin, according to the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.
On average, Broward County paramedics and firefighters from Engine 14 arrive in about five minutes and 10 seconds, consistent with other county agencies, officials said. But when its units were tied up, they arrived late or relied on Fort Lauderdale's emergency services, Latin said.
For example, on April 25, Engine 14 was being used to carry an employee to medical treatment. Its ambulance was on a medical call, and Broward County Engine 23 -- a hazardous materials unit near Davie Boulevard -- was in Cooper City on a call. Unincorporated central Broward was left without service. An engine had to drive more than 15 minutes from Pembroke Park to the unincorporated area. Personnel also had to request mutual aid from Fort Lauderdale for its ambulance. Broward County Assistant Chief Todd LeDuc said the incident was being addressed with the battalion chief.
Staff Writer Brittany Wallman contributed to this article.
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06-03-2003, 09:25 PM #1
Ft. Lauderdale Fla--Fire Chief Says Broward County Abuses Mutual Aid09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
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The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
06-03-2003, 10:02 PM #2
Weruj1 - Who does this sound like??????????? lmao
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