By Sheriff Scott Israel
When disaster strikes, the Broward Sheriff’s Office is ready, willing and able to lend a helping hand to those in need at a moment’s notice—no matter where it occurs. From the heart of Broward to the people in need in the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico, BSO was there to assist in whatever manner was needed during this deadly and catastrophic 2017 hurricane season.
Ensuring the safety and security of Broward residents and visitors is always BSO’s top priority, even in the face of battering winds and flooding rains. The hardworking men and women of this agency gave all they had to keep Broward safe this hurricane season. However, we also answered the call for help from our neighbors and friends who were in desperate need of assistance. We didn’t do this because we had to. We did because it’s the right thing to do. Public safety is about helping out those in need, even if disaster doesn’t touch us personally. And as this devastating hurricane season showed, there were many far less fortunate than us here in Broward that required the kindness and assistance of outside help.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma in September, BSO sent a unit of BSO deputies, specialists and communications equipment to Monroe County, where some of the worst damage from the hurricane occurred. The Communications on Wheels (COW) vehicle we set up there allowed first responders in the Keys to coordinate their relief efforts and assist the storm-weary residents of Monroe County.
Our civilian dispatchers also answered the call for help. Monroe County, from the Everglades to Key West, received some of Irma’s nastiest winds and weather and needed a lot of help recovering. They asked for dispatchers to help field some of the emergency calls they were receiving, and we sent some of our finest.
Seventeen of our fire rescue personnel also made the trip to the Florida Keys to assist residents, whose way of life forever changed because of the storm. In one instance, a weakened and thirsty Key Deer was given a second lease on life, thanks to a member of BSO Fire Rescue who hand-fed the animal four bottles of water and helped it recover. BSO also sent a contingent of fire rescue personnel to Puerto Rico to assist local authorities in handling the devastation caused by powerful Hurricane Maria.
None of this would have been possible, however, had it not been for the amazing residents of Broward. I am so incredibly proud of you. I was amazed by your incredible acts of kindness and selflessness, and impressed by how you followed the direction of public safety professionals to the best of your abilities, keeping your families safe during the worst of it. Property and possessions are replaceable; lives are not. Your response made Broward safer and allowed us to help those in dire need elsewhere.
Here’s hoping for a quiet final month in the tropics. But know we are ready to assist anyone who needs us at the drop of a dime. When people are in trouble, we try to help. We are BSO, and that’s what we do.