Sunday, May 31, 2009

No comment but saved for posterity

Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL)

May 29, 2009

Sheriff, Sun got it wrong

I wish to thank the Sun for their colorful and always entertaining editorial this Saturday.

I guess it is no secret anymore that the Sun is not a member of the Sheriff Bill Cameron fan club. I can live with that. But I can't live with the Sun wrongfully reporting that I ever pitted the Sheriff's Office against the fire department. It was the Sun that did that.

I merely had to supply them with public records they requested, as did the fire department. They wrote the story their way. I am afraid that the Sun's attempt to create conflict between the deputies and firefighters won't work. We are now and have always been brothers and sisters and we support each other on and off the street every day, and the Sun won't change that.

And I am sorry that the Sun can't sell headlines of conflict between the County Commission and the sheriff like they used to.

Our five commissioners and I are not just colleagues, we are friends, and we work together very well. And that is another thing the Sun can't change.

The Sun did get a few things right. Yes, our Sheriff's Office is very lean. Yes, your safety is the most important function of government. Definitely yes, the Sun should not be in the law enforcement business.

And absolutely yes, you elected me knowing I would fight to keep you safe, and I promise I will. Please continue to support your deputies and firefighters. They need you now more than ever.

And my recommendation to the editorial managers of the Sun, you need to get out more. Because it would appear that I may not be the one that is out of touch with our community. And even though we may agree to disagree, as always, I appreciate the work your paper does for our community.

Sheriff Bill Cameron

Punta Gorda

Thursday's Murphy Monitor

added edit:

God bless Michael and Ave Cantrell with much love and peace. I can't imagine their pain and suffering. Please, I'm not sure how I feel about prayers sometimes, but if you're a praying person, please pray for this family. If you are not praying person? Please send them as many postive uplifting thoughts as you can. They have a young family to raise. They need your love and support. My heart, which is already broken to pieces, breaks for them. Thank you. I feel this family's pain. I understand innately what this man is saying. He just doesn't want this to happen to another family. Losing a child or any loved one violently and through tragic circumstances is heartbreaking enough. To know they could have been saved is, yes, emotional torture of the worst kind.

Suit filed following child's strangulation death

Family wants standards set for 911 first responders

by Jamie Engle
Staff writer

In October 2007, 21 month old Matthew Cantrell accidentally strangled himself in a backyard soccer net. Last week, the boy's father, Michael Cantrell, filed a federal lawsuit naming the City of Murphy and the East Texas Medical Center as defendants due to what Cantrell called their "complete failure to try to save a 21 month old boy."

"My goal is to make sure someone who calls 911 receives the proper help, the proper response from the 911 operator," he said. "First responders should help the injured child or person and provide medical care. We're doing this so another family does not have to endure what we're going through."

When Matthew's mother called 911, the suit alleges the 911 operator did not instruct her how to administer CPR, nor did the East Texas Medical Center when she was transferred to them, nor the first responders on the scene, two Murphy police officers, administer first aid.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Cantrell said he felt he had two options: do nothing or do something to help prevent this from happening again. Cantrell said he has never before been involved in a lawsuit and that it was a long process occurring over a long period of time. While researching, he said he found some things disturbing, such as the fact that following nationwide 911 procedures is optional at the state level.

There are two main changes Cantrell is seeking. First, he wants to see that people get the help they need over the phone when they call 911.

Second, Cantrell wants to ensure that first responders, even if they are not EMTs, are going to help an injured person. He plans to begin at the local level, then state and nationwide.

"I'm driven and will make sure that people know and learn the appropriate response to learn and do. I would think that anybody who enters a home and sees an injured child would try to help an injured child, no matter who they are and especially a police officer whose job it is to protect and serve," he said. "We want to get the message out that something has to be done to make sure this doesn't happen to another family. A lot of work has already been done. This is the beginning of being able to make change in a lot of different areas."

One of the first changes Cantrell was able to effect was the recall of the backyard soccer net, recalled by the Consumer Safety Commission in September 2008.

"You think about it, most any job you have to be certified, qualified, trained etc., and it is just about bizarre that such a critical job doesn't require a set of mandatory training and skills and test or evaluation for competency before and someone is given such a critical role that can be the difference between life or death," Cantrell said.

"We're going to be working with the 911 national training system called NENA as part of our calls (sic) to make sure those national standards are known and followed everywhere," he said. "For medical emergency phone calls, operators need to be knowledgeable and follow those protocols."

NENA is the National Emergency Number Association. They are having a conference in Fort Worth in June.

Cantrell is joining with the Denise Amber Lee organization to lobby for change. Despite four different 911 calls, Nathan Lee's wife Denise was abducted in broad daylight then assaulted and murdered. The case was on "20/20" and Nathan has been on "Dr. Phil" and spoken in other cities.

"We've talked multiple times. And he, like me, is very driven to make sure what happened doesn't happen to someone else. We'll meet for the first time face-to-face in Fort Worth at the NENA conference.

"He's dedicated his life to making sure that this doesn't happen to someone else, that 911 call centers are reformed to make sure that, nationwide, when somebody picks up the phone and calls with a medical emergency, or for that matter an abduction or whatever else happens, that things are handled properly to make sure that people receive the proper medical care, proper police care or whatever happens in his situation."

A 911 reform bill in Florida in Lee's wife's name was recently passed. The mission of the Denise Amber Lee organization is, "to raise awareness of 911 call center inefficiencies, promote improvements to 911 call centers, and offer assistance to families of murder victims," according to the organization's Web site.

The site continues "Currently, most states have no kind of standards set for the training of 911 dispatchers. Although Florida is making an effort (a bill for 911 reform was recently passed in Denise's name), it is still considered a voluntary measure to participate in the training standards. We would like to see proper training become mandatory, not voluntary. We'd like to learn from the mistakes made, move forward and fix the inadequacies. 911 is here to save lives, and when it doesn't because of confusion and procedural breakdowns, that is unacceptable.

"We need to restore confidence in the 911 system. That is the most important thing. 911 operators and dispatchers should be praised for doing their job correctly. Not everyone can handle the high stress conditions of the job. God bless all the 911 operators out there who care and are working so hard to do their job and keep us all safe. May God give them the strength and guidance needed to do their job to the best of their ability."

"You can only deal with what's ahead of you, or try to at this point, and make sure it doesn't happen again," Cantrell concluded.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Denise Amber Lee Foundation and APCO

FWIW I'm feeling better about them. I'm still not quite sure what to think because I was not at the meeting today. But I can say that it was a positive meeting according to Mark and Nathan. APCO seems to know now where we (the DeniseAmber Lee Foundation) are going and what our intentions are. We have nothing to hide.

They seem to want the same thing. And that would be a good thing.

They have offered us help and that's a VERY good thing.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thoughts on the Upcoming Trial

printed in both blogs

Trials. What can I even say. My feelings? My feelings can be pretty much summoned up in one word.


There are other feelings but if I were looking for one word to define my feelings, dread would be it.

I simply feel sick about it. Our trial is scheduled to begin August 17th.

If I've been mum for a while it's because there isn't much to say. Other than it's an awful feeling.

Tomorrow people will be celebrating Memorial Day. People will be cooking out and playing horseshoes. We used to do that. I just can't.

Memorial Day is about dead men and women who gave their lives for our country. Now instead of thinking about "cooking out" all I can think about is how people lost loved ones in horrific ways.

I still don't think anyone could die as horrifically as Denise did. But I guess people do.

It's hard not to think about the Jessica Lunsfords and the Carlie Brucias. I simply don't understand how someone can torture and kill (I consider rape a torture worse than waterboarding) such young innocents. It's just beyond understanding.

Okay, so I'm being very morbid on a Sunday morning. Now you know why I haven't written anything in a while. My thoughts are ugly and sad. I'm truly dreading the upcoming trial. I can't help crying thinking about it.

I do have some good moments. Yesterday, we had Adam for some one on one time. He's so precious. Mark's mom expressed regret that Denise was not here to see him grow. Well, I believe she is here and she is watching him grow. What I find sad is that Noah and Adam are missing out on having her here. They never really and never will have an opportunity to know her other than through our memories. They'll never experience her laugh. They'll never experience her joy and tenderness again.

They have been quite simply robbed.

You can see it in Noah's face. He has been especially robbed and he really misses her. He talks about death now around us. He knows now, I believe, that she's not coming back. He's handles it very stoically. And you can see how he's trying to adjust. He has his joyful moments too. And I believe he has more joyful moments than sad. I think now that he knows for sure she's not coming back he's actually doing a bit better. But it's hard for him. He has a million questions. He's only 3.

It makes you wonder if the alleged perpetrator could be put on trial for robbery as well. Because he really did rob us. I mean he ROBBED US. Especially Nathan and the boys.

I'll stop. I'm just not looking forward to the trial and I wanted to jot down why I haven't been writing much.

I really need to get to one of those meetings for Parents of Murdered Children. I think I should try the one in Sarasota. hmmm... we'll see. I'm just sick thinking about it.

I guess we should focus on the positive. The positive being the help and support we want to give to the 9-1-1 industry so that what happened that night with the blown chances of saving Denise in the 9-1-1 center doesn't happen to another family.

Two things could have saved Denise that night. 1.) Certification and standards for the 9-1-1 call taker and dispatchers. They had the training and they had the technology but they weren't using either appropriately. And 2.) cell phone location. Denise made a 9-1-1 call that lasted seven minute and had we been using GPS technology we could have found her.

Would she have been damaged? Yes. But she'd still be with us. I feel unbelievably strong about that.


Added edit: I just finished watching the PBS special concert for Memorial Day. It helped put things in perspective. I do hope sincerely that any one who is reading this and may have lost a loved one in one of our wars knows my heart and prayers are with you. And that I didn't mean any disrespect. God bless you with much love and peace.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Update Matthew Cantrell II

Family sues city of Murphy after toddler's death

12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 20, 2009
By MARK NORRIS / The Dallas Morning News

MURPHY – A family whose toddler son died after getting tangled in a backyard soccer net in 2007 filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Murphy and the officers who responded to the emergency.

The suit claims the 911 dispatcher and responding police officers wasted critical time that contributed to Matthew Cantrell's death.

"The failures here are monumental," said Patrick J. Boyle, the Cantrells' attorney. "It's just a series of calamities."

Murphy city officials said they could not comment on the suit until June at the earliest, when it could be presented to the City Council and city attorneys for review.

Matthew, who was 21 months old, became entangled in the net after his mother fell asleep in October 2007. When Ave Cantrell woke up, she cut her son loose and called 911. The dispatcher told her to remain calm and did not respond to her question of how she could help revive her son.

Murphy police officials have said previously that dispatchers are not supposed to give medical advice.

Also named in the lawsuit is a private company, East Texas Medical Center, which the city 911 operator brought on the line for additional assistance during Ave Cantrell's panicked emergency call.

The ETMC medic brought on the line did not respond to Ave Cantrell's pleas for help, according to the suit, and instead asked her address.

Elmer Ellis, ETMC president, said Tuesday that he had not received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment.

Police officers listed in the suit are Chief William Myrick, Lt. Adana Barber and officers Kevin McGee and Clayton Dacey.

McGee and Dacey were the initial responders to the scene. Dacey moved Ave Cantrell and her other son into the master bedroom and away from Matthew, who was left alone on the couch. McGee went outside to wait for the paramedics and to contact his superiors, according to the suit.

The suit states that Myrick told McGee to treat the incident as a crime and secure the scene. When paramedics arrived, McGee stopped them and told them the boy was already dead, according to the suit.

Paramedics were able to restore Matthew's heartbeat, but he died a few days later because of complications.

The Cantrells have previously criticized Murphy officials for the way its 911 operators and police responded to the incident, but only now, they say, are they ready to handle a trial.

"It can bring about some closure and can be beneficial," said Michael Cantrell, Matthew's father. "It's important that individuals that were associated with that specifically be held accountable for their actions."

The Cantrells are not seeking a specific amount of money. The suit asks that the amount be determined by a jury.

The Cantrells successfully got nearly 190,000 MacGregor and Mitre folding soccer goals recalled in September 2008.

Update Matthew Cantrell I

Please keep this young family in your prayers. I do so hope we get to meet them while we're in Fort Worth.

Parents of tot killed in net strangling sue Murphy

12:49 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 20, 2009


MURPHY - Murphy parents who lost their toddler when he accidentally hung himself in the family soccer net have filed a lawsuit against the city in hopes for change.

Michael Cantrell lost his one-year-old son, Matthew, in 2007.

"Unfortunately, I know it to the day, 19 months and 16 days," he said of the exact date the tragic accident happened.

While the soccer nets involved in the accident have been recalled, Cantrell said there is one more step left. Cantrell said the 911 emergency response and the Murphy Police Department's actions at the scene were unacceptable and appalling.

The day of his death, Matthew wondered outside of the home and became entangled in the family's soccer net. His mother, Ava Cantrell, said she had dozed off on the couch at the time of the accident.

"I blame myself every day," she said.

But the alleged actions of three police officers and Murphy's former police chief, Kevin McGee, has led the Cantrells to file a suit against the city, not for money but for change.

According to the Cantrells, the problems started as soon as Mrs. Cantrell called 911 for help after discovering Matthew.

"Please, please, my son choked," she told the dispatcher. "He got strangled. Oh my God ... Please tell me what I need to do."

Mrs. Cantrell repeated the question eight times before being transferred to an EMT. Mrs. Cantrell said all the operators refused to give her medical advice to help her son.

And according to paramedic statements, they said when they arrived on the scene, McGee stood with his arms spread apart to stop the crews from entering the home to help Matthew.

"He is gone," said McGee according to the documents. "This is a crime scene."

"A police officer just left him there to go outside to put up crime scene tape," Mrs. Cantrell said.

But paramedics forced their way in and said they found that Matthew was still alive. He lived for three more days.

"I could not handle waking up tomorrow and hearing of a similar situation taking place knowing that I could do something about it," Mr. Cantrell said.

The lawsuit aims for better training of officers and a revamping of what Mr. Cantrell called a "defunct" 911 response system.

"I take my older son to bed every night," he said. "I go right by the bedroom where I used to read them stories together."

Matthew's pictures and handprints hang on the walls of the Cantrell home.

"We'll meet again," Mrs. Cantrell said. "We'll be together. I hold on to that."

The city said they will not talk about personal issues, which means there is no information available on disciplinary action, if any was taken at all, against the officers. But, to date, they are all still on the force.

Murphy's city manager said he can't comment on the case for at least a few more weeks.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm so depressed

And have been for a couple of weeks now. I don't know what it is. I'm in some gawdawful funk. Maybe it's I'm missing Denise so much and moving on is so damn difficult.

Maybe I'm feeling discouraged with all the 9-1-1 stuff. Sometimes I feel as if we're banging our heads against a wall. And I know this simply isn't true. It's just a super long process and it involves politics, egos, money, and power. Things, to be quite honest, I believe most of us can do without. You wonder who you can trust and who you can't. So many people with so many agendas. And some have agendas where they have actually used our family's profoundest grief. It's just unconscionable how people can put their politics and egos before public safety.

Politics. Ugh!

Oh, Denise..... I really do miss you so much. I miss our family and what we had together. I miss the simplicity of you and Nate coming over for dinner with the boys. I still see you walking through the garage with that big clunky carseat. I miss your smile.

I miss your quietness. I miss how simple everything used to be.

This 9-1-1 fight is a struggle and a burden. But we're not going to give up and let the dirty politicians win. We're going to see to it that sheriff's and police departments have to step up. So many already do, but there are many more who don't. And it's wrong. People will continue to die and families will continue to be devastated.

There needs to be standards and accountability.

I just erased the rest of my post because it was becoming a rant. And, I don't want to rant. I want to think of all the good people out there who are helping us and not those who are hindering us.

The good still outweighs the bad and it triumphs over evil. At least, I keep telling myself that. And all in all, I believe it's true. It's just that the bad has a tendency to infiltrate and destroy. Well, we won't let it.

I miss you, Denise.

As an aside: We're still looking for recipes, so please submit as many as you want! Send them to me at

Much love and peace.....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dear sweet Denise

Today was especially difficult. Dad (in law) had to for the first time go through all the videos we have of you. I've seen them all..... All are beautiful. All are touching, moving and simplybreathtaking. But today, Dad went through them back to back. We're trying to create a video to present at the different conferences and conventions we're going to. We want them to feel the emotions we feel as a family. We want them to know how this tragedy has affected us so that hopefully this will never happen to another family. It's a difficult message to convey. We can't prevent sickos like your murderer from murdering people but! we can help prevent such a tragedy from happening if opportunities are presented to prevent such a tragedy. There were so many opportunities that could have prevented (crap, I'm crying) your murder and tragedy but those opportunities were not taken advantage of. So, if we can help prevent tragedies, well...... please, God, help us do so........ We know, Denise, your tragedy could have been prevented. We also know that other tragedies could have been prevented... namely Olidia Kerr Day's and Jennifer Johnson's. Even if just one of you were saved it would have meant so much less heartache for if just one family's!!!!

Anyhow, Dad (in law) had to go through all the videos. Also, we're trying to select an appropriate song to play along with it. Dad has his mind set on (and I agree it's perfect) Rascal Flatt's "While You Loved Me". That or Lonestar's "Not A Day Goes By".

It's so damn difficult. I wonder if we ought to use your wedding song, Rascal Flatt's "The Day Before You".

I don't know. But each time we have to go through newspaper clippings and videos it's as if we're reliving losing you.

If Dad and I can do this for Nate..... well we will. Personally, I don't see how he'd get through it. I can barely get through it. And God knows how difficult it is for you dad in law.

I pray every day for guidance. And I pray for your parents and brother and sister. I don't know how they get through it.

We're just friggin' in-laws. If murderers only knew the pain they cause. If they only respected life. If they only knew how much you were loved and treasured. If they only knew what your babies are going to miss not having had the opportunity of knowing just how sweet and wonderful you were. Ugh! I'm going to go crazy!!!

You are so very missed by so very many people. I'm so sorry if I never told you how very much you meant and still do mean to me.

Yes. We're trying to move on. Nathan's doing well and doing his best. We're moving on. But it's damn difficult. It's as if we know we need to, but the pain just won't go away.

Love you, sweetheart..........


Friday, May 15, 2009

I hate to have to do this but.......

it's been asked and I guess it's something I need to do. That is, go over once again what we believe went wrong in the CCSO 9-1-1 center the night Denise died.

There were 5 9-1-1 calls made the night Denise died. The first from Nathan reporting her missing. This one was handled fine. One by an eyewitness's daughter. This was handled very well with the call taker thanking the young woman and telling her "we're looking for this girl". The third by an eyewitness. We won't go there about the witness but we will say the call was handled appropriately. The fourth? Made by Denise herself! This one was handled exceptionally well. You can hear the call taker multi tasking and professional sounding as she's calling North Port to make them aware of the call. She's not rattled at all. All four were handled by Sarasota County or North Port call centers.

The fifth call handled by the CCSO was where things went wrong. Here's what we believe happened according to their own internal investigation.

  • Because the operator who monitors the BOLO's (Be On the Look Out's) went home early (to save paying overtime) the machine basically went unmonitored (in our opinion) and 3 critical BOLO's were either totally ignored or responded to late. The two dispatchers on duty were supposed to monitor the machine every 5-10 minutes and one testifies she did so. Sadly, there is no documentation supporting this. And the deputies in the field received no information on 3 of the BOLO's. So, from the time the first BOLO received from the North Port Police department at 4:58PM to after 6:30PM deputies from the CCSO testify they were NOT looking for a green Camaro. As late as 6:45PM one deputy testifies there were "no real leads". So we have Sarasota County, North Port, the FHP, the FDLE, Manatee County, DeSoto County and countless other agencies searching for a green Camaro but not the CCSO which is where she was last seen alive.
  • It took the CCSO near 2 hours to patch a radio to neighboring Sarasota County
  • At 6:30 an eyewitness to Denise's kidnapping called in and had the call taker on the line for 9 minutes giving cross streets as to where she was witnessing the abduction in real time. The call taker was clearly rattled. She put the caller on hold. She told the caller people are "hollering" at her. She clearly didn't know what to do. She kept asking somebody for instructions. The call taker did not enter crucial 9-1-1 call information immediately into her CAD system. She wrote it down and shouted it across the aisle. She testifies she shouted it to dispatcher A. Dispatcher A and B testify she shouted it to Dispatcher B. It was over 13 minutes after the initiation of the call before she entered anything into the CAD. Those 13 minutes IMO were pretty crucial minutes.
  • Total chaos. Total procedural breakdown.
  • After the crucial 9-1-1 call I just mentioned, no car was ever dispatched to the area. There were several CCSO cars in the area with deputies who testify they were sitting by their computers WAITING for information that never came. They were never dispatched
  • The CCSO never contacted North Port who had jurisdiction in Denise's case about the phone call which was made by the last person to see Denise alive. They would have denied the prosecution their best witness. Thank goodness the witness was persistant in being heard.
  • It wasn't until after Rick (Denise's dad) and another officer from CCSO listened to Denise's frantic 9-1-1 call that the CCSO was aware of a green Camaro. It is only after Denise's frantic call that a call is made to the dispatch center by the officer who was with Rick that the dispatch center realizes they had issues and missed the BOLO's. It was at that moment the sh!t hit the fan and they forgot to dispatch the car.

Again this is in their own Internal Investigations Report.

What's been fixed?

The only thing I'm sure of and this information is from Sarasota County is that the two counties are now working closer together.

The radios seem to be fixed. I learned this from the newspaper after a false alarm abduction a few weeks ago.

Is the call taker no longer writing things down and is she finally using the CAD appropriately? I don't know. She'd been reprimanded before. Hopefully considering a life was lost she is.

Is the machine that monitors the BOLO's being monitored 24/7? Don't know.

Sorry to sound so cold. I'm at work and I really don't want to break down in tears.

That's it in a nutshell. Sorry to have to go through it all again. But someone asked me to.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today's Sun

This in today's Port Charlotte Sun. My opinion at the end of article.


Legislature fails on 911 certification

OUR POSITION: Statewide, mandatory 911 dispatcher certification got pushed aside in the Legislature this session. Let's do better next year.

It's no surprise that a bill calling for mandatory training of all 911 emergency call center dispatchers in the state was sponsored by local legislators.

We in Charlotte, Sarasota and DeSoto counties are all too aware of the potential horrors associated with a breakdown of the emergency call system.

However, the passion to provide a higher level of public safety apparently becomes diluted with distance and time. It also can be hard to counterpunch past Tallahassee lobbyists. That's the way it goes in the capital.

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, who sponsored a Senate bill this year requiring state certification of all 911 operators, said the lobbyist for the state's emergency operators pushed hard for changes in the wording of the bill.

Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, who co-sponsored a House bill with freshman Rep. Ken Roberson, R-Port Charlotte, told Sun staffer Ed Scott this week, "There are some lobbyists for the 911 operators who interfered with the process greatly."

The bill just didn't have the traction, or didn't get enough of a push, so it stalled in the final days of a session that concentrated so much on budget problems.

It was Kreegel who took the lead on 911 dispatcher certification last year in the wake of the murder of Denise Amber Lee.

By now, we know the story of how Lee was kidnapped from her North Port home in January 2008. A witness saw the 21-year-old woman struggling in a car with a man and called 911, but no officers were dispatched to the scene by the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

This mistake led to a campaign by Lee's family for greater accountability and uniform standards that might help restore confidence in a system that had failed them so badly.

Last year, Kreegel won passage for a bill that called for voluntary training, but it had no teeth and came with no funding, so it had little impact. This year, Roberson led the team effort, but still there was enough resistance and too many questions.

The bill will be back next year, and Kreegel thought the effort chances might smooth the path to passage. We hope so.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office insists its requirements for dispatchers exceed national standards. Sarasota County announced this week that its communications center had won certification from a national accreditation agency.

That's comforting, but we need to know that emergency dispatch has consistent -- and consistently high -- standards throughout the state. We have seen what can go wrong.

As Detert told the Sun, "It's unbelievable that something with this much common sense could not pass the Legislature."

Well put.

My opinion

Thank you, Charlotte Sun for keeping this story alive. It's extremely important not just for Charlotte County but for the whole state of Florida.

Thank you, Senator Detert, and Reps Roberson and Kreegel. God bless you for following your consciences by doing the right thing for the citizens of the state of Florida.

As most of you know the foundation has been traveling across the nation to tell Denise's story. So, many things went wrong and it's not just about training. From what I understand (and I've seen their training manuals for call takers and dispatchers) the CCSO does have an excellent training program. The problem the night Denise died goes deeper than training. They were not using the training they recieved and they were not using the technology they had at their fingertips. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully Denise's death has not been in vain and they are using their CADs properly now, the way they were trained to use them. Also, hopefully BOLOs are being monitored 24/7. But it shouldn't have taken Denise's death to accomplish this. Again, the best training and technology in the world are absolutely worthless, if they are not being used.

I am of the opinion that even the new legislation that was presented this year fell short of what we're fighting for. The proposed law that failed gave the sheriff's and police departments until 2012 to step up. Who wants to wait until 2012? Several people died in just the past year in Florida due to 9-1-1 mishaps, not just Denise! Also, it would have allowed them to be pretty much "grandfathered" in. Heh!

Well, if anything, we've been told and we believe now that this is a national issue. So, dear Florida, you can be a leader in this or you can continue to be embarrassed and neglectful of your citizens. People will continue to die so long as call takers and dispatchers are not held to a standard. People will continue to die in canals, trunks and cars as long as we're not using GPS in cell phones.

Just so there's no doubt about it, there is no way we're going to drop this! We'll fight even harder this year and we'll be even stronger. Also, the law we propose will be much stronger. We had a lesson in politics this past year and we're not going to shut up. We're that motivated.

Aside to Governor Crist: I hear you're going to run for senator. I do hope you look into this issue for the benefit of the citizens of Florida. You've avoided it so far like an expert dancer. But you will not be able to avoid it forever. And it IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO! Step out of the meetings with the lobbyists in Tallahassee and meet with what Bill O'Reilly calls "the folks". Meet with Nathan and hear his story. His mission is a noble one.

Again, a big thank you to the Sun.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My dear sweet Denise

Just wanted to let you know how very very much I've been missing you today. I miss you everyday. But, of course, this being mother's day I couldn't help but remember what a fantastic little mom you were to Noah and Adam. Words on a blog....... no. Words on a blog could never describe the void I feel in my life not having you with us.

Love you, babydoll. And miss you so much.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

More news on David Iredale

No opinion today. I can't find words but I wanted to share the latest news story. It encouraging that people have apologized, have been humbled and are eager to seek change so that such a tragedy will never happen to another person and devastate another family.

Sadly, IMO, it probably will happen. As long as we are not using the technology available today to detect where cell phones are when they dial 9-1-1, people will always be lost on hiking trails, in snow storms, in canals (as that lady was in Florida), in trunks (Jennifer Johnson) etc.....

I hope they address that problem too. There will always be human error but we should be doing what we can to minimize it.

Also call takers and dispatchers should be "Certified" and held to certain standards.

Take in the apology at the end. If ONLY the CCSO would have done that in the beginning....

Much love and peace to the family. It must be difficult for them to be thrust in the news again.


Lost teen's emergency calls prove futile


Seven times, teenage hiker David Iredale used his cell phone to call Australia's equivalent of 911, pleading for rescue after he became lost in tough scrubland and ran out of water in 100-degree (37 C) heat.

Each time he got through, he was told he needed to give a street address before an ambulance could be sent. Shortly after the final call, Ireland collapsed and died of thirst.

An inquiry into the 2006 death of the 17-year-old exposed deep flaws in the country's emergency response system, including what a coroner called an astonishing lack of empathy by the operators who took his increasingly desperate calls for help.

Officials in New South Wales state on Friday acknowledged the system's failure and promised to overhaul it. Iredale's father said preventing similar tragedies in the future would be a legacy his son deserved.

A wilderness enthusiast and member of Sydney Grammar School's rowing team, Iredale set off with two classmates on a summer vacation camping trek in the Blue Mountains, a picturesque but notoriously harsh landscape of eucalyptus-shrouded peaks and gorges 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of Sydney.

It was supposed to take three days and earn the boys points toward the Duke of Edinburgh Award, an international program to promote leadership and good character.

They were well-prepared with camping gear, maps and plenty of food. The two less experienced hikers carried water in plastic bottles, while Iredale had a 4-pint (two-liter) hiker's water bag strapped to his back.

According to testimony to the coroner's inquiry from the two survivors, the hikers' water ran dry on the first day as temperatures rose to 100 F (37 C) and they slurped it down while marching across rocky terrain and tree-lined trails. After camping for the night, they pressed on toward a river they expected to reach within a few hours on the second day.

Iredale, fitter and more experienced, kept darting ahead of his colleagues and waiting for them to catch him up, they told the inquiry. When they eventually reached the river Iredale was not there.

How Iredale became lost is not clear. But when he did, he turned to what many would consider a modern-day lifeline: his cell phone.

In audio records of his calls to "000" — Australia's version of the 911 emergency line — Iredale tells ambulance officials he has lost the trail and is surrounded by "the bush."

Dialing from deep in a gorge, Iredale's connection kept dropping out, ambulance officers told coroner Carl Milovanovich, who began his inquiry last month.

Iredale's first call to triple-0 was put through to police and quickly cut out, though not before he was able to convey that he was stuck near a peak called Mount Solitary — information that eventually helped triggered a search.

Over the next hour or so, he called triple-0 six more times. Once the call was diverted to a recorded message. Five times he was connected to the New South Wales state Ambulance Service.

Milovanovich's 35-page report released Thursday recounts the calls, and Iredale's rising anguish as time and again operators "interrogated" him about a street name that could be entered into the service's computer. He could only name the walking trail and Katoomba, the town where the trio began their trek.

On the third call, an obviously distressed Iredale tells operator Laura Meade: "I'm lost. I need water. I haven't had water for a long period of time."

She interrupts him to ask, "Sir, do you need an ambulance?" When he says yes, Meade asks for a suburb and street name, which prompts Iredale to yell that he is not in a town. Then the connection drops out.

Iredale called back and cried out, "Hey, this is an emergency ... emergency!" before the line dropped out again.

During the final call, Iredale, groaning audibly and breathing heavily, tells the operator he had fainted and needed a helicopter, Milovanovich's report says. She put him on hold twice before then line dropped out.

After this call, ambulance officials contacted the police and the two services began cooperating on a search. Police planes flew over the area, and a major ground search began.

Eight days later, Iredale's body was found slumped against a tree.

Milovanovich said he did not want to criticize the individual ambulance operators, instead blaming a system he said did not allow them to override a computer that demanded a street name before an ambulance could be dispatched.

"The relentless focus of all the call-takers in further attempting to establish an address or precise location, having regard to the nature of the calls, was astonishing," Milovanovich said.

The operators "lacked empathy" because they were too preoccupied with the computer, he said. Operators should be trained to override the computer and to recognize signs of illness or distress in callers.

Ambulance service chief executive Greg Rochford said all of Milovanovich's recommendations would be implemented "as swiftly as we can."

"The ambulance service sincerely and unreservedly apologizes for the deficiencies in the way the service managed this case and for the hurt that was clearly caused to the Iredale family," Rochford told reporters.

David's father, Stephen Iredale, declined to criticize the ambulance service but said he hoped the inquiry would help prevent anyone suffering a similar fate to his son.

"We hope that this will result in a useful legacy for David," he told reporters after the coroner's report was released.

Friday, May 8, 2009

John Della Bosca admits Triple 0 failings following David Iredale death

I blogged about David Iredale and his tragedy in Australia a couple of weeks ago. Here's an update. I hope they address the cell phone location problems too. I really really do. If we could only put a GPS chip in all cell phones. ALL cell phones so that if a cell phone uses 9-1-1 it immediately gives a location. The technology is out there. And it's not expensive. Some have said that the ACLU and others have problems with that because of privacy issues. Sorry. If your cell phone dials 9-1-1 someone is going to find you whether you want to be found or not. David obviously wanted to be found. Denise's murderer obviously didn't. Finding either location would've saved a life. Finding both locations would have saved 2 lives. David's and Denise's.


UPDATED | May 07, 2009
Article from: Australian Associated Press
THE NSW government says it will accept a coroner's recommendations to fix problems at triple-zero call centres after an inquiry into the tragic death of a teenage bushwalker.

Deputy State Coroner Carl Milovanovich was scathing of the NSW Ambulance Service call centre in handing down his findings into the death of David Iredale.

The 17-year-old student died during a planned three-day trek through the Blue Mountains National Park with two friends from Sydney Grammar School.

The trio was undertaking the December 2006 bushwalk as part of requirements for The Duke Of Edinburgh Awards scheme operated by their school.

Mr Milovanovich found David died from "the effects of dehydration", but he was critical of the triple-zero call centre's treatment of the desperate teenager.

Among his recommendations, the coroner called for all ambulance service call centre operators to have access to paramedical advice.

He also urged a widespread review of the training and protocols used by ambulance service triple-zero operators.

Health Minister John Della Bosca said the ambulance service would accept all the recommendations.

"This is a tragic case and the evidence given to the inquiry was very concerning - the government accepts there have been deficiencies in the triple-zero service,'' Mr Della Bosca said.

"The government will urgently form the working party recommended by the coroner and begin analysis of the issues identified by the coroner.''

Mr Della Bosca said work would start immediately to address the limitations of the ambulance service's existing software and database to be more effective in taking, logging, recovering and transferring emergency calls.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Last night's news on SNN6

I don't have time to find the video because we have to go to a 9-1-1 power point presentation tonight and I have to get ready. It was on SNN6 last night. But, I have to get this out of my system.

On last night's news the CCSO stated how wonderful their 9-1-1 training is. And how they exceed the hours that were being mandated in the proposed bill.

Well all I can say is, and it's really bothering me is that




They had the training and the technology in place the night Denise died. They had it! But they didn't use it. Because the call-taker "doesn't like using computers" she didn't have to! And because they didn't want to pay over time they sent the person who monitors their BOLO's home early!

So, what good is it!

Sorry for the anger but they really p!ss me off with this "our training" is yadayadayadayada impeccable crap! So what. You're people weren't using it.

If they finally are AND I HOPE THEY ARE! It took Denise dying to get them to do it. And that's just wrong.

Sorry for the rant. But........ geesh. It just makes me sick to my stomach.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In the Charlotte Sun

Here we are receiving support across the nation but in Florida......

Thank you Senator Detert, Rep Kreegel, Rep Roberson and David Garofalo. Please, keep fighting the good fight and that is to save lives by minimizing human error and creating standards for 9-1-1 dispatchers and call takers.

The bill had flaws but it was a start. It's truly appalling, pathetic and sad that certain public officials put politics before public safety.

No hurry to pass 911 bill

Staff Writer

NORTH PORT -- Local legislators are disappointed that their efforts to require enhanced 911 emergency dispatcher certification failed last week.

State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, called it "unbelievable that something with this much common sense could not pass the Legislature."

A bill in the House of Representatives that required certification standards for 911 operators in Florida was sponsored by state Rep. Ken Roberson, R-Port Charlotte, and co-sponsored by Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda.

The local legislators had high hopes for the bill after it was given unanimous approval by the House Health Care Regulation Policy Committee in March. But it was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration on Saturday, one day after the session ended.

Meanwhile, a bill in the Senate, sponsored by Detert, that requires 911 operators to be certified by the state Department of Health, was in the Health and Human Services Appropriations committee in April.

"Since there was no movement in the House and we were running out of days, the Senate did not want to work on it any longer," Detert said.

Detert rejects the assertion that sheriffs across the state, who initially opposed the bill, did not ultimately support it.

"We had worked that all out and the sheriffs did support it in the end," Detert said. "There was one major lobbyist (Richard Pinsky) who testified against it several times. He represents the 911 operators and they wanted totally different language that we did not agree to."

Referring to Pinsky, who lobbies for the Florida 911 Emergency Dispatchers organization, Kreegel said, "There are some lobbyists for the 911 operators who interfered with the process greatly."

The House bill passed through the House Health Care Regulation Policy Committee after an impassioned speech by North Port City Commissioner David Garofalo, who is on the board of the Denise Amber Lee Foundation.

"He didn't make a speech; he hit a home run," Kreegel said.

Last year the Legislature made law a Kreegel-sponsored bill that recommended higher certification standards for 911 operators statewide but did not mandate them. That law followed the murder of 21-year-old Denise Amber Lee, who was kidnapped from her North Port home in January 2008.

The Lee family believes the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office botched a 911 call to dispatch units to the intersection where Denise was last seen by a motorist.

Currently, each emergency dispatch call center mandates its own criteria. Detert says her bill would have provided uniformity "from county to county and to make it mandatory instead of voluntary. Part of the dispute was who was going to teach the course and we were going to allow the sheriffs to do it themselves."

Detert said Denise Lee's husband, Nathan Lee, who is promoting 911 certification nationwide, "wants consistency and I support that and our bill provided consistency," meaning counties would have been required to provide similar training.

"If there is any cost involved, that does not bother me because that's why the sheriffs get funding, to protect the public and for safety issues. That's what our tax dollars pay for."

Nathan Lee echoed his displeasure at the bill's failure.

"I'm disappointed, but in the same respect, I'm excited about drafting our own legislation," he said Tuesday.

Kreegel was also disappointed that senators "never got it done. They had bigger fish to fry with the budget. Very little was passed this year.

"In the House it was ready to go to the floor, (but) if you have something with no traction in the Senate, then it won't be heard on the floor of the House," Kreegel said.

Detert says she will reintroduce the bill next year.

"It will be back," she said. "It was a good learning experience for Ken Roberson that the simplest things are harder than they look and you have to strap on your armor and battle lobbyists. I think it was a surprise to him that the sheriffs would not support this bill (initially).

"Next year he'll have better luck because we have smoothed the road."

"It was a good learning experience but he actually did an excellent job shepherding it through committee," Kreegel said of Roberson.

Staff writer Jason Witz contributed to this report.


Monday, May 4, 2009

David Garofalo and the Denise Amber Lee Foundation

I love this young man as a son. I mentioned Mike Rossi in yesterday's post. I didn't mention David Garofalo.

I started to several times but I was so overwhelmed that I didn't know where to start. If it wasn't for David, we would NEVER have even met Dr Clawson. David set up the entire meeting. And he's so humble about it all. I can't tell you all that he has done for our foundation in a single blog post.

What he did today speaks volumes as to the support he's given us. He loves Nate as a brother. He calls me mom. (He sadly lost his mom not too long ago). This is what he wrote to Florida state representative Bill Galvano today after learning that the bill for mandatory 9-1-1 dispatch training died on the floor.

I hesitate to even share it because it's worded so strongly. But! It's how we feel. It's as if the entire country is listening to us but the state of Florida refuses to step up! Even this bill was flawed.

We're not going to shut up. We're not going to go away.

But ya know? This doesn't even matter because what we're fighting for is a national issue and not just a Florida issue.

I find it sad that Florida won't lead the way on this especially after all the recent tragedies. Florida should be at the forefront!

Bless you, David. Your mom would be so proud of you!

Here it is:

Mr Galvano

What happened to this bill? Can you please tell me that you still supportit? If not, Why? I thought for sure you were going to be able to make this move.

This is very disheartening. The foundation including Denise's Widowed Husband, Father and Mother In Law have been traveling around the country being invited to Conference after Conference and we cant even get support in our own state.

I didnt believe that APCO's lobbying team was that strong, especially if the lawmakers knew what they were really after. They would like to see dispatchers classified as "High Risk" employees, just like Firefighters and Police. And they plan on riding this emotional wave of 911 Mishaps to get it done.

I have attached an article that when it originally came out, I called Nathan Lee and he started to weep on the phone to me. He for one of the first times since I met him was able to feel that Denise had not died in vain and that people were really listening. He was especially admirable that you supported it, because he was very clear that you had the ability
to make things move and shake.

I hope that is still the case.

You are a good man Mr Galvano and I hope that this was just an oversight.

David Garofalo
Director of Public Policy
Denise Amber Lee Foundation

Prompted by this article:

Bill aims to raise bar for 911
After Herald-Tribune series, a push for uniform, mandatory training
By Zac Anderson

Published: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 11:27 p.m.
For the first time, Florida's 911 operators would receive uniform,
mandatory training and would have to be state certified before taking emergency calls if legislation being drafted by several Florida lawmakers is introduced and approved this year.

The lawmakers announced their plans days after the Herald-Tribune published the results of a six-month investigation into failures of the 911 system statewide.

The newspaper found that hundreds of 911 errors threaten lives every year. In some cases, call takers send help to the wrong address, fall asleep on the job or simply forget to send help at all.

Despite repeated errors, Florida lags far behind most other states in training and oversight because state officials have taken on virtually no regulation of the state's more than 250 call centers.

Each 911 center sets its own training standards, a practice that means some call takers train for months while others are directing emergency response just days after being hired.

The bill being written by state Rep. Ken Roberson, R-Port Charlotte, would change that, making a voluntary 911 training program mandatory and requiring state certification for all 911 employees.

"We need mandatory rules," Roberson said. "Everybody should have the same standard."

Roberson has won support from several key legislators, including Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, who agreed last week to file a companion bill in the Senate.

State Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, one of the three most powerful House members and a must-have vote for any legislation, said Wednesday he supports the bill because citizens need confidence in the 911 system.

"In general I'm not a big proponent of mandates. But this is one, in my opinion, that will ultimately save lives," Galvano said.

Galvano said he was prepared to take on the Florida Police Chief's Association and the Florida Sheriff's Association, which have lobbied against mandatory 911 training standards because of concerns about the cost. It is unclear how much the new requirements would cost.

"I will say to them that we have an obligation to do everything we can to make sure this isn't an unfunded mandate, Galvano said. "But they have to realize what a high priority this is."

Amy Mercer, executive director of the Florida Police Chief's Association, declined to comment on the 911 bill until it is filed.

Roberson's bill would not address all of the challenges facing Florida's 911 centers.

The Herald-Tribune investigation found that beyond lax training requirements, most 911 centers do a poor job of tracking and investigating errors. In addition, error-prone 911 employees can rack up mistake after mistake and keep their jobs. Some 911 operators were allowed to botch a dozen or more calls before being fired.

Pay remains low, and stress and absenteeism high. As a result, many 911 centers are plagued by high turnover. Some lose 75 percent of new hires with a year, ensuring a steady stream of inexperienced call takers to direct the state's emergency responders.

But if the bill becomes law, Florida's training standards would go from among the weakest in the nation to among the strongest. All 911 employees would be required to complete a 208-hour basic training course before receiving a state certification to work as a 911 call taker. Agencies that already offer such training could apply to have their program certified as state-approved. Dispatchers with at least five years of experience would automatically qualify for certification.

Certification would mean that every 911 worker has a basic level of training. In addition, the state could revoke a 911 worker's certification, although currently it is not clear whether that would end a dispatcher's career or what criteria would be used to revoke certifications.

The state's 911 centers would likely have a few years to get everyone certified, Roberson said. He said he will also look for money to help local governments pay for the additional training.

Southwest Florida lawmakers began contemplating more state oversight of 911 centers a year ago, after confusion and errors made at the Charlotte County 911 center cost law enforcement a crucial opportunity to save the life of a 21-year-old North Port woman.

That woman, Denise Amber Lee, was kidnapped from her home, raped and buried in a shallow grave. When a woman saw Lee struggling with her kidnapper, she called 911, but no police officers were sent to check on the report and Lee was killed a short time later.

When the 911 mistakes were revealed, lawmakers pushed through a bill calling for voluntary training for 911 employees. But with no funding and no requirements, experts say, the bill did not lead to improved standards.

Denise Lee's widow, Nate Lee, said this week that making training standards mandatory is a first step.

"I'm excited about this training, I'll be up in Tallahassee lobbying for it," Nate Lee said. But "the whole 911 system needs another look. The state of Florida deserves better."

Roberson said he has been contemplating mandatory requirements for some time and the Herald-Tribune investigation cemented his decision.

"Public safety has to be a priority," Roberson said. "If firefighters need state training, and police officers, so should 911 operators."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

NAED The Denise Amber Lee Foundation in Vegas

what a week!

The night before

It started out on Sunday with Nathan feeling ill. We thought it might be stress. We spent the day in and out of the doctor's office. Thank goodness, his doctor will see him on a Sunday. It turned out he was admitted into the hospital in the wee morning hours Monday (the morning we were flying to Vegas) with appendicitis. He's okay now. He's still weak. It wasn't an auspicious way to start the week. I was an emotional wreck starting out.

The plane

On the plane I sat next to an Iraqi war veteran who had lost his leg in a roadside bombing. He was very instrumental in making me feel better. He was just a young man. I think he said he was 26. His name was Pete. We talked at length (it's a five hour flight) about Post Traumatic Stress. His experiences mirror ours in many ways even though they are different in many ways. We talked of nightmares, flashbacks and anger.

But, you know, what a remarkable young man he was. Here I was trying to give him comfort by allowing him to talk because he says he never talks about it but felt he could talk to me, when he really surprised me. He said "hey, I lost a leg. And, yeah, the worst and scariest was losing my sight even temporarily. But, your son........ Your son lost his wife in the most tragic of ways. And losing a leg pales in comparison".

How remarkable is that? He said he'd pray for Nathan and our family even though it's difficult for him to pray. I told him I'd pray for him even though it was difficult for me to pray. And he said "no. Concentrate on your family". What a gift. I'm crying now thinking of it.

Arriving in Vegas

Well, we finally arrived and I felt..... I don't know how I felt but I felt soothed and better. I was so worried about Nathan. He was being operated on at the time we were arriving in Las Vegas. I can't express how much my maternal instincts were in overdrive. I couldn't stop thinking of losing Denise and having the fear of losing Nathan too. And all it was, was his appendix. I knew I was over reacting but the maternal drive just wouldn't slow down. It's weird to explain.

Well, there we were in Vegas and both Mark and I were wrecks with worry and lack of sleep. Thank goodness for Mike Rossi one of our foundation members that accompanied us. He just took over. We were pretty much penniless going out there because Nathan had the bank roll and of course he wasn't there. Mike just went into overdrive and took over. He was taking care of cabs and taking us to Kinko's and arranging meetings and checking us in and he pretty much was leading us through Monday and Tuesday morning. He took care of all the logistics because we were just wiped out emotionally and physically. I don't think he would have treated his own parents better. I'll never forget all he did for us.

The meeting

Things got better after our meeting with the 9-1-1 industry leaders Tuesday afternoon. What wonderful men. Brilliant men. You could see their brains working on what to do to help prevent what happened from happening again. They listened patiently to our story. They expressed compassion. But mostly (at least for me) they gave us hope. Hope that things will change. They were very sincere. All there had different ideas on how to accomplish this but all agreed that we need to continue to speak up and things need to change.

At the meeting were many fascinating people. The most fascinating, of course, was Dr. Jeff Clawson. No. You've never heard of him but you should! He's the man that started back in 1979 to write all the 9-1-1 protocols we use today. He, along with others, continue to improve them as technology and cultural situations evolve. He was very moved and perhaps a bit appalled by our story. You could see his brain working on better protocols as we were speaking. It was an honor just to be in the same room with him! not to mention being able to share our story. See pic of me with Dr. Clawson.

Scott Freitag, Eric Parry and Alan Fletcher from NAED (National Academies of Emergency Dispatch) were all there offering hope and suggestions of where the 9-1-1 industry is to go with correcting and helping minimize tragedies like ours. Scott Freitag was also moved by our story. He, too, has experienced tragedy in his young life. He has a beautiful family and seemed genuine in his offer to help us. Eric Parry has such a dynamic personality it's hard to pin down where to start. He took us by the hand (almost literally) and guided us through who to meet, what classes to attend, what to listen for...... He also invited us to speak in a couple of sessions.

What truly awesome individuals these men are. See pic of Mark and I with Scott Freitag.

Also in the meeting was the out going president of NENA (National Emergency Number Association) Ron Bonneau and the in coming president Craig Whittington. What can I say about them other than these men are dedicated professionals whose mission in life seems to be continually improve our 9-1-1 industry. This is what they do! How honorable is that?

I was humbled. I had no idea so many people cared so much and so many people are truly dedicated in making our lives so much safer.

I am immersed in this 9-1-1 thing as you all realize by now. This is all I talk about other than my grandbabies who I get to see today:o) I live, eat, drink, breathe this 9-1-1 stuff. To be able to talk to people who are just as immersed in it as I am was truly a gift that I'll forever treasure. Denise, sweetheart, people are listening!

We take 9-1-1 so for granted. We as civilians truly do. We have no clue as to all that goes into making a 9-1-1 call successful. We have no clue of how all the links in the chain need to work together. We have no clue that men and women are continually working behind the scenes (and have been for decades) just so we can be and feel safe.

What I gleaned in this meeting (and remember I was emotional so I could be off) was the medical and fire protocols for 9-1-1 would receive superior grades if you graded them. But the police protocols still need a lot of work. That the police are the most resistant to change and loss of control. The police say it's because the dynamics are so varied. But every man in that room that day agreed that the police could do better. Or that the 9-1-1 industry needs to do better where police are concerned.

After that meeting I felt confident, strong, safe (which I hadn't felt in a long time), and secure in the knowledge that what we're doing as a foundation is right and necessary. I knew we were right in our cause but these men gave me a validation I needed. They gave me hope that our story wasn't falling on deaf ears.

Needless to say they gave me strength and it was a strength that would last me the rest of the week. I had to tell our story at least a couple hundred times. A couple of those times were in front of classes. It was cathartic but it was difficult. It was the men in that room that gave me the strength to do it.

I can't write anymore now. I'm in tears with gratitude and an overwhelming sense of pride in our mission.

But there is more to the story. I have to tell you about the dispatchers we met. And the call center supervisors. And the classes we attended. Peter Bellmio with the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. The Medicine Hat contingent.... About Nicole and Heidi from the San Diego Sheriff's Department...... God bless those two girls for helping me in the booth for they too gave me strength. And Kevin Willett. Geesh. Without him........... I would never have made it out there.

But I'll have to save all that because I'm emotionally spent.

Much love and peace,


Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Administration Steps Up Again

yeah right! Gotcha!

Friday over a week ago, I sent an email to several neighboring counties sheriff's and police departments asking them to distribute a flyer about our cookbook.

Here is a copy of the email I sent to Bob Carpenter at the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office:

Hello, Mr. Carpenter,

I was wondering if your office could distribute the attached flyer to your
department and staff. Many people from the CCSO helped in the search for
Denise. So many who worked so hard to bring her home that terrible
night...... they will always have our heartfelt gratitude.

It is our belief they may be interested in ordering a copy of the cookbook
or they may want to submit recipes.

Thank you,

Peggy Lee
The Denise Amber Lee Foundation

Below is what the flyer looked like:

The Denise Amber Lee Foundation Cookbook

• Reserve your copy today!
• Only Limited quantities will be available
• $15 each

Make checks payable to: The Denise Amber Lee Foundation
Note “cookbook” on check and mail to:
The Denise Amber Lee Foundation
Attn: Peggy
P. O. Box 639
Englewood, FL 34295-0639
Include $3.95 (add .99 per extra book) for shipping and handling

• Remember quantities will be limited. We’re hoping to get enough advance orders to keep the price at $15 when they come out in October. Otherwise the price will go up to $18-$20.

• I’m really concerned we’re not going to be able to order enough books so, please, if you want one, reserve it today by mailing your check. They will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.

• We’re still accepting recipes until April 30th. We intend to extend this to May 15th for the 9-1-1 industry people we meet in Vegas. Email your recipes to

• I’ll be selling the cookbook out at the conference we’re going to. I plan on getting many more recipes out there. So, if you send recipes, send at least 4 or 5 so we can pick at least 1 or 2 of yours.

• Locals can save shipping by picking up the cookbook in Englewood or Port Charlotte

Now....... you tell me. What's wrong with that? Did we do something wrong in trying to include the CCSO? Was it tacky? Was it ballsy? Or was it simply the right thing to do in extending an olive branch?

I don't know.

Sadly, we heard through the grapevine (Mr Carpenter never answered my email) the CCSO is working on their own cookbook where they are going to collect money for their own charities.

Even though our non-profit is out there fighting everyday for improved 9-1-1 cellular technology and mandatory standards and certification for call takers and dispatchers they wouldn't distribute the flyer. Both things we are fighting for would would have definitely helped prevent Denise's and many other's deaths.

IMO, it sux that the CCSO is discouraging their men and women from contributing to our cookbook. Afterall, many of these men and women helped search for Denise during those awful days. And many are Rick's friends who watched Denise grow up.......

Sheriff Bill Cameron seems to be following Retired Sheriff John Davenport's lead.