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911 not working for deaf woman

Calling 911 has not helped Linda Gardiner.

The deaf woman has twice in the last month called police to no avail.

She and officials at a deaf services agency say there are apparent problems in Broward County's system allowing hearing-impaired people to transmit computerized emergency messages by phone.

"I'm awful worried," said Ms. Gardiner, 49. "I'm afraid because I'm often home alone, and I'm ill. I wonder, "What if I have a heart attack?' I will die from the failure of 911."

She said she called 911 on Sept. 12 after a motorist caused damage by driving through her yard. Her call went to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, which operates the county's 911 system and patrols Davie, where she lives.

"For about five minutes, it failed. And then I called again, and there was no answer," she said.

Nine days later, Ms. Gardiner said, she saw a man steal her mail. "I tried and tried to dial 911."

She telephoned United Hearing and Deaf Services, a Broward non-profit agency, which called the Sheriff's Office for her.

"We sent out surveys," said Nancy Weintraub of the agency. "Several of the surveys that have been returned to us say there has been a problem with 911."

Ms. Gardiner said she will visit the Sheriff's Office to watch the 911 system in hopes of solving the problem.

The Sheriff's Office said its TDD, or telecommunications device, equipment is tested before each shift and the 911 personnel have been trained how to use it.

"It's not like we use the equipment a lot. We may not get a TDD call but once a week, and that may be where we get some of the problems," said Lt. Paul Lauria.