While living in a pandemic has been difficult for everyone, those that have greatly stepped up to support the communities they serve has not gone unnoticed. Every day, first responders are impacted by the outside risks of their job. From those that have fallen to the families they leave behind, first responders all around the world are parents, sisters, brothers, and children, making the loss of a loved one in the line of duty that more difficult. This sacrifice to serve and protect any given community doesn’t come easy, but it is always recognized during challenging times. It has been witnessed in the past and is seen even more today.
Among like-minded individuals who cherish a deep appreciation and respect for first responders, the Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council has continued to be a stable rock in South Florida and throughout the COVID pandemic by raising funds to assist officers and their families, as well as providing community support. Along with the remarkable help during this time, BSAC’s long standing commitment to honoring first responders in their community involves a mission they live and breathe by: “Protecting Those Who Protect Us.” Delivering vital resources through community and corporate collaboration, the Council provides immediate funding to families of the fallen and critically injured in the line of duty. BSAC also offers funding for the resources first responders need to safely fulfill their daily duties such as Technology & Equipment, Specialized Training and Wellness Programs.
Executive Director of Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council, Somers Farkas, shares, “We have a dedicated toll free number for first responders who wish to call and discuss personal issues. 24/7. No cost, no questions.” Devoted to their community, the Council also educates and engages with the public about local law enforcement to promote a positive relationship between the citizens and first responders in Broward County.
Alongside the existing danger that first responders face on the job, South Florida has also recently dealt with loss of multiple officers from the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a four-year veteran in the road patrol division of Fort Lauderdale, Jennifer Sepot, who died on Aug. 14, 2021, of the virus. She is survived by her husband, an officer with the Margate police department, and their 2-year-old daughter. In addition, Coral Springs Sgt., Patrick Madison, a 15-year veteran died from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 43. He is survived by his 12-year-old son and fiancée.
In addition to helping families of the fallen and funding related programs, BSAC annually acknowledges honors first responders in the community who display heroic efforts at their annual Tribute to Bravery gala. One highlighted story involves Broward County officers, Anthony Demarize and Detective Richard Bravo-Brown, who responded to a baker act call on Monday, March 16, 2021 at 7:58 pm. Upon arrival, they discovered a mentally challenged young man who was suicidal and armed with a knife. To control a situation that had gone from bad to worse, the officers were able to intercede, successfully restrain the victim, provide a chest seal, and pressure his wounds until Fire Rescue arrived at the scene. With the skills and compassion from both officers, the young man’s life was saved so he could go on to receive the proper mental health treatment he needed. While this is only one, each effort reflects the honorable acts Broward County first responders show every day.
Looking ahead, The Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council is preparing to honor the fallen while celebrating their Valor Award honorees, first responders, and their families at the ‘Tribute to Bravery Family BBQ’ on November 7, 2021.