Sunday, May 31, 2009

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.