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Broward County Participates in National 911 Education Month
- Three local public safety telecommunicators receive Tom Gallagher Memorial Public Safety Award -
DATE: April 23, 2014
Broward County Office of Communications Technology
PHONE: 954-357-8565
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Broward Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday proclaimed April as 911 Education Month in Broward County, and recognized the important work and contributions of three public safety telecommunicators.

The 911 Education Month observance is part of a national campaign, 9-1-1: The Number to Know, and designed to encourage public safety officials, school and government officials to engage in efforts to educate residents of the importance and appropriate use of 911 services. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Be 9-1-1 Ready.”

“We need to remind residents of all ages that being ready to call 911 with accurate information will help 911 dispatchers provide the assistance they need quickly,” said Brett Bayag, E911 manager in Broward County’s Office of Communications Technology, which provides oversight of the countywide consolidation efforts of the E911 communication system. "We all might find ourselves in need of emergency services so this public education effort is an important campaign," he noted.

Bayag reminds all residents of the following important tips when dialing 9-1-1:

Know Where You Are: Where are you right now? Could you tell 9-1-1 exactly where to find you? Look for landmarks that might assist emergency responders in finding you.
• Call 9-1-1, Do Not Text 9-1-1: 9-1-1 is not currently able to accept text messages, photos or video from your location. A voice call continues to be the best way to reach 9-1-1. Texting to 9-1-1 is expected to be available in the near future.

• Use a Landline: Whenever possible, use a landline to call 9-1-1. Because cell phone towers can cover multiple jurisdictions from the same tower, it is possible for a cell phone call to 9-1-1 to be routed to 9-1-1 call answering center that does not dispatch the responding public safety agency. If this occurs, the time it takes to transfer your call to the responding 9-1-1 call answering center can be critical. The County is now consolidating 9-1-1 answering centers, which will serve to eliminate much of this concern.

• Stay Calm: 9-1-1 is there for you until help arrives. Be ready to listen and follow directions.

In conjunction with proclaiming April as 911 Education Month, Broward County commemorated Public Safety Telecommunications Week by honoring three County 911 telecommunicators for their exemplary leadership, and distinguished and compassionate service to the residents of Broward County. Each of the three received the “Tom Gallagher Memorial Public Service Award,” established in 2013, to honor the man who grew up in Broward County and dedicated his professional career to excellence in the E911 emergency dispatch field. Gallagher joined Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue in 1996 and oversaw the 911 Public Safety Communications Center and the Emergency Operations Center. He is credited with building the in-house 911 dispatch center there for police and fire calls. 

This year’s honorees are:

• Yolanda Damiano, telecommunicator for the Broward Sheriff’s Office since 2000, was cited for always going the extra mile in what she does, including assisting field personnel or her co-workers. She is highly regarded as a competent, conscientious and cooperative call-taker and dispatcher who excels at her position and understands the importance of accuracy and customer service. In December 2013, she received a letter of commendation for the handling of a shots fired call with a vehicle pursuit as well as other letters of commendation and twice being named "Employee of the Year."
• Tara Gelsi, Broward Sheriff’s Office duty officer, Broward County South Regional Consolidated Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Pembroke Pines, is noted for her dedication, knowledge and loyalty demonstrated by her excellent work product each day. Her peers look to her for guidance. Last year, she was instrumental in learning and then developing study guides and teaching the staff new software. In addition, she made herself available to all shifts for tutoring and guiding all dispatchers to be at ease with the new Printrak CAD system.
• Richard Grossman, telecommunicator with the Coral Springs Police Department’s E911 call answering center, has been in law enforcement since 1985. His skills in understanding how the law enforcement process works from arrest procedures to the restraining order processes are valuable resources for the telecommunicators in the PSAP. He also developed in-service training programs for new hires and veteran employees on the advanced points of being a fire dispatcher. Last year, Grossman handled more than 12,000 calls for service and his call processing times were better than the benchmarks the unit had set.

For more information about Broward County's 911 Public Education campaign, visit

Photo Caption: Recipients of the 2014 Tom Gallagher Memorial Public Service Award, left to right, are Richard Grossman, Coral Springs; and Yolanda Damiano and Tara Gelsi, both with the Broward Sheriff's Office.

About the Office of Communications Technology
The Office of Communications Technology (OCT) was established by the County to manage, administer and provide oversight of the countywide consolidated E911 communication system. A significant part of OCT’s responsibilities is to develop, design and maintain the infrastructure to respond to E911 calls on a 24/7 basis, thereby enabling rapid emergency response to 911 callers for lifesaving assistance in Broward County. The Regional Consolidated E911 Dispatch System is managed by OCT and operated by the Broward Sheriff's Office. For more information, visit