Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kathy Alger

I read about 9-1-1 tragedies all the time. Call me morbid but it's not that. I feel compelled to read as much as I can and to learn as much as I can. Why? Just like all the other families who have lost loved ones to 9-1-1 mishaps, I just don't want another family to go through it. Especially when tragedies can be prevented. Call it risk management, call it preventive maintenance, I don't care what you call it but some of these tragedies can be stopped before they ever happen. Such is the case with cell phone technology, 9-1-1 and the limited knowledge of the general public. You can have the most sophisticated cell phone out there and, yep, it most likely isn't going to help 9-1-1 find you. YOU need to know where you are, so YOU can tell the 9-1-1 center where your calling from if you want help to arrive fast. And, maybe I'm wrong, sorry to be sarcastic but if someone is calling 9-1-1, I think they want emergency personnel to arrive pretty darn fast.

Anyhows, I'll get off my soapbox. I just can't help myself. This stuff drives me crazy! And, no, I'm not going to ignore it and hide from it. I'm going to scream it from the rooftops until we get it right. That may take forever. Technology will continue to evolve, sheriff's will still be "constitutional figures" with egos the size of Montana, budgets will still have to be fought, and the lobbyists and politicians will still be well lobbyists and politicians. Ugh!

Back to Kathy Alger.


Walla Walla Union‐Bulletin Milton‐Freewater (WA)

woman dies as inability to pinpoint cell‐phone call hinders response
By Sheila Hagar of the Walla Walla Union‐Bulletin MILTON‐FREEWATER —
Like countless others, Kathy Alger believed having a cell phone instead of a land line made good sense.
The 64‐year‐old Milton‐Freewater resident was disabled by health problems, but determined to fully participate in life. Not only was a wireless phone contract cheaper than a land line, but she could be in the yard with the grandchildren or shopping at Wal‐Mart and summon help at the touch of a fingertip if needed, said her daughter, Kim Alger.
Three pushes — 9,1,1 — seemed the perfect safety net for the disabled woman who valued her independence and preferred to live on her own. “Her understanding was that you could call 911 no matter what,” Kim said. “She wanted to have the phone with her everywhere in case she fell.”
The Algers, like multitudes of people, had assumed public safety technology has kept pace with cell‐phone marketing.
That’s not the case, experts agree, and the Walla Walla Valley family would come to learn in a story that is too far from unique.
Under circumstances that have shocked her clan to the core, Kathy was found dead in her house on Dec. 11. Although no one will ever know exactly how long, it soon became clear she had been dead for days.
By then, in a mobile home kept heated to 74 degrees, her body had bloated almost beyond recognition, her skin splotched deep purple and red. Blood had seeped from her nose and mouth, pooling on her chest and shoulder and soaking into the carpet below. Seated in her favorite chair in front of the TV, Kathy’s glasses remained perched on her nose and her cell phone was open on her lap when her 31‐year‐old grandson walked in.

Sean Alger had been summoned by an employee of a medical transport agency who had twice been unsuccessful in getting Kathy to open her front door at a scheduled pick‐up time. The driver, knowing the disabled woman would have hollered if she could, had already called the Umatilla County’s Sheriff’s Office “I knew going over there, she was probably dead,” Sean said.
“But when I walked in and she was still sitting in the place she always sits, my brain played a trick.”
For just a few seconds, his mind allowed him to believe things were just fine, that his grandmother was watching TV like usual, he said. “That should have never happened.”
What he didn’t yet know at the moment of discovery was that Kathy had placed a call to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office Communication Center at 11:22 p.m. on Dec. 6. The Alger family would be nearly 36 hours into the grieving process before learning Kathy had realized she was in trouble and had reached out for help.
While Kathy Alger’s death was unexpected, it was not surprising, her family said. Heart disease and diabetes had plagued her for years. “She was the type of diabetic who would eat a box of Twinkies, then take the insulin to make up for it,” family members told a sheriff’s deputy during an investigation of the woman’s death.
The mother of six, Kathy’s early life was much like the rest of it — rough, often unconventional and usually bumpy, Kim noted.
Born into the rigidly structured household of an Army officer, Kathy rebelled against house rules at a young age. When coupled with an early physical maturity, her quest for freedom ended at 16, pregnant with her first child and married to her boyfriend.
Nearly 50 years later, her mother had taken a similar approach to her own health most of that time, disregarding the care she needed, Kim said. As well, Kathy had poor relationships with the people most likely to coax her to wellness — her four still‐living children.
“It all goes to why she didn’t have the self‐worth to fight her diabetes,” Kim said. “She was a very loving human being, but she had a hard time dealing with close relationships.”
Which makes Kathy’s death sharper still, honed with the edge of irony. Although she didn’t often relate well with her grown children, the opposite was true of her grandchildren. Rarely did a school event go by without the family matriarch in attendance, and she was a primary caregiver for several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Kathy helped her teen‐age grandkids with auto insurance fees and paid the initial costs for each to have a cell phone. It was a way her mother, on a limited income, could offer them a little help, Kim explained. “That was important to her.”
Too, Kathy had finally begun to take more responsibility for her health. A recent problem with swallowing was being evaluated by Kathy’s physician.

Because of the medical situation, her mom had not been providing child care for her grand‐ and great‐grandchildren in early December, Kim said.
A mixed blessing, she believes. While Kim is thankful no youngster had to watch Kathy die, she might still be alive had there been a child to summon help.
Someone who could perhaps tell the lady on the phone just where Kathy lived.
It was late into the night on Dec. 12 when Kim Alger finally had a minute to stop and check her mother’s cell phone’s history. The Unicel phone rang and rang while Kim went through her mother’s home the day after Kathy’s body had been found, Kim recalled. “So it ended up in my pocket.”
In the process of trying to establish a time line for her mom’s death, Kim began going through the phone’s messages.
Her world stopped when she discovered a voice mail from a dispatcher at Umatilla County’s emergency call center.
“Hello, this is Tammy from the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office out of Pendleton, Oregon. I just received a 911 call from this phone. If you’re able, please call us back on 911 so we can get a location on you if there is an emergency. Thank you,” the female dispatcher said.
It was the first, terrible inkling her mother had left the world in a less than peaceful manner, Kim said. No longer could she assume Kathy had simply drifted away while watching a TV program or petting her dog, Shelby.
Kim immediately called her older sister, Cindy Armenta, then contacted other family members. “Then I called the dispatch center to see what they could tell me.”
And what she found is unacceptable, she said.
Like people are trained to do, Kathy Alger called 911 for help on Dec. 6. It was the day she likely died, although no autopsy was done to confirm a time of death. The tape of that call gives an audio history of her mother’s last moments, Kim believes.
“It sounds like my grandmother probably died on the phone,” Sean confirmed.
In listening to the recorded call, there can be little doubt the caller is in serious trouble.
Whether from choking, a stroke or heart attack, Kathy could only offer guttural responses to the dispatcher’s queries.
“911, do you need police, fire or medical?’’ the dispatcher asks.
In deep, struggling grunts, Kathy answers with three syllables, forming what sounds like “medical.”
It’s the last semi‐intelligible utterance. Everything else is answered with a croaking scream, including a request for an address, after gasping inhalation. What could be construed as ‘help’ is uttered 11 times.

Kathy is heard for the last time at one minute and 45 seconds into the call. At three minute and 14 seconds, a dial tone precedes the electronic chords of the keypad as the dispatcher redials the number.
Although the emergency call center labeled the tape copy handed over to the Alger family as a “911 hang up,” there is no apparent evidence that her mother disconnected.
“I was told ‘We can’t follow up on every hang‐up 911 call we get’ by the center supervisor,” Kim said. “She never hung up.”
Matters became more complicated. As Kathy fought to articulate her plight, the dispatch center was working to establish where the call originated and dispatching emergency workers.
Readouts indicated the caller was at Highway 339 — typically referred to as Old Milton Highway — and Appleton Road, said Umatilla County Undersheriff Terry Rowan, who oversees the 911 center.
Kathy Alger lived in a double‐wide trailer at the corner of Appleton Road and the east side of Highway 11, more than eighths‐tenths of a mile away.
A deputy thought he might know the caller and address indicated by the cell tower coordinates, but that proved to be a false hope after he checked the area, Rowan said. “Then it becomes a scenario where you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.
“If we can’t get information from a caller, then how do you know? You don’t know if it is a domestic, hostage or medical situation,” he said. “You just don’t know.”
Most people, including many in law enforcement, can’t get past the Hollywood version of 911 calls, Rowan said. “This CSI theory where the whole United States has the same thing you see on TV. Where you can not only get cell phone location, but it’s tracking you the whole time you’re moving.
“We just don’t have that stuff.”
Before Dec. 11, Rowan was guilty of the same belief, he conceded. “My perception would be if my wife crashed in some remote spot, they would find her (via cell phone), spot on.”
Umatilla County is in the process of implementing Phase 2 of the Enhanced 911. As required by the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999, E‐911 was created to provide a seamless communications system for emergency services, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
The upgraded system allows for automatic reporting of telephone numbers and locations of 911 calls made from land‐line calls. Transition periods were designed to bring the nation’s communications infrastructure into compliance.
Also, the commission requires cell‐phone carriers to provide 911 and E‐911 capability where public safety officials request it. Once fully in place, wireless E‐911 provides accurate coordinates for emergency calls from wireless phones from 164 to 984 feet of the actual location.

Kathy Alger was more than 4,200 feet from where the cell‐tower information placed her.
Umatilla County is partially through the E‐911 upgrade, Rowan noted. Even so, every cell phone is only as good as the information provided to emergency dispatch centers by carriers, he added.
The Milton‐Freewater area is especially hard to map for E‐911 purposes. “This address might be in the city limits, the house across the street might show up as county.” It’s the addresses right on the fringe that require dispatchers to make an instant judgment call as to which agency to send out, Rowan said.
In the case of Kathy Alger’s call, other barriers plagued the response. Emergency call centers can’t keep up with what’s on the market, he explained. “There are just a million different companies, different plans, Trac phones ... a lot of systems won’t even track that kind of stuff.”
For example, when Kathy’s call came in, it showed up as a Rural Cellular Corporation phone, “a subsidiary of Unicel and we didn’t even know that.”
To find that out took half an hour, which didn’t happen until much later, Rowan said.
Had his staff known, they might have been able to utilize the link on Unicel’s Web site that guides law enforcement in getting subscriber location information almost immediately. That’s just one of many thing he plans to address for Umatilla County’s 911 center, Rowan said.
“Let’s make sure we have — at least — all the contact information for all the cell phones we can think of. What we learned is many of the 911 centers across Oregon are faced with the same battle in identifying different corporations for cell‐phone carriers. In identifying protocol to get subscriber information.”
People changing carriers but retaining old numbers adds another layer, as does cell signals pinging off towers far from where those signals originate, he said.
It’s a complicated issue, said Miriam Svobodny of Unicel. Beyond that, the wireless company could not comment by press time, she said.
The Umatilla County official would like to see a central clearinghouse where every 911 center can access that data until the day technology allows individual agencies to integrate that into their own systems. “It’s hard to say what would make it one solid system.”
This case has been a terrible lesson in where procedural and training gaps are for his and other dispatch centers, Rowan said. After exhausting the obvious means to identify and find the unknown 911 caller, the matter was considered done, a “hang‐up 911.”
“What I wished would have happened is that a supervisor would have been notified of the call. A supervisor would have had time to investigate, like we did when (Kathy Alger) was discovered dead in her home.”

Notifying him would have allowed Rowan to trace what steps had been taken, as well. Now, it’s all Monday morning quarterbacking, he added. “This has certainly had an impact on staff. The dispatcher who took the call was distraught over this, devastated.’’
His office has developed new policies in light of the situation. Supervisors will be briefed on every call, follow‐ups will be conducted, and additional training may be added.
Cell‐phone companies need to do their part, too, Rowan said. “When are they going to help make sure what’s being marketed is working like they say it is?”
Kathy Alger’s family doubts whether anything could have been done to save her life.
Kim and Armenta are nurses for Vange John Memorial Hospice in Hermiston and were keenly aware of how precarious their mother’s health was, Kim said. A successful 911 response may have prolonged his grandmother’s suffering, Sean agreed. But no one should experience what he views as apathy on the part of the Umatilla County emergency call center, heard even during the actual call, he feels. ‘‘There was no compassion, no encouragement. No reassurance they were going to do anything.”
It’s painful to imagine the woman who helped raise him as helpless and alone in the last minutes of her life, Sean explained.
“I had just taken my daughter there the week before. We hung out, I took out the garbage, things I always did,” he recalled. “She gave me my own baby spoon that day.”
Kathy also gave her first grandchild “The Spooky Old Tree,’’ his beloved childhood book. “Here it was, the last time I saw her and she gave them to me.”
He plans to see his grandmother when he reaches heaven, Sean said. While still on Earth, however, he’ll do what he can to change the issues surrounding cell phones and 911 calls.
“I should never have had to walk in there, no one should have to see that. I don’t want to ever hear another story like this.”
Dear Sean, I hear your pain. The problem here, IMHO, is what people (regular everyday citizens) know and don't know about cell phones and 9-1-1. Those CSI shows should be outlawed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I just wanna cry

I've been on the verge of tears on and off all friggin' day. (Excuse the word friggin' but....)

I don't know if it's the upcoming trial? I don't know if it's because the cookbook is almost done? I'm rather sad about the cookbook being finished. I truly enjoyed working on it and creating it. I felt like I was giving Denise something and helping to keep her spirit alive. I don't know if it's my worry over Nathan and the boys? I don't know if it's my worry over work? I don't know if it's menopause.

I think the hurricane grief chart in my other blog describes my feelings perfectly. I feel as if I'm in the eye of a gigantic hurricane with various problems just flying haphazardly around me. I try and reach out to grab one and try and fix it if not at least help it and there it goes flying away from me.



Monday, June 22, 2009

YouTube ~ NENA 2009 ~ Strategic Alliances


You can see Nate at about the 1:52 minute mark. This is what it's all about. Certification and standardization is a good start. Dear God, make it happen.

God bless all the dedicated call takers and dispatchers out there who are fighting this fight with us and for us. You really are our first line of defense in homeland security. Without your dedication and diligence the firefighter would never get to the fire, the EMT would never get to the medical emergency and the police could not stop an abduction in progress and prevent a murder.

Thank you for fighting the good fight! God bless you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I love this comment! Dispatch Monthly On Line

Josh K said:
Yeah Seems a little stupid to lay off 6 Dispatchers and take Deputies of the road. The cost of Deputies is way more than the cost of Dispatchers, since every state in the US of A pays their Dispatchers way less than their Officers. Why didn't they just lay off the Deputies, I mean they can't work the road while they are Dispatching anyways. The county would have saved way more money by laying off the deputies, but of course its just another case of Command staff not caring about the professionals that sit behind the console.

God knows most Cops can't dispatch either!, but they sure love to from their cars....

Link: http://www.911dispatch.com/db/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2577&Itemid=1

Sheriff Lays Off Entire Comm Center Staff

Saturday, June 13 2009

Budget cuts have forced the Marion County (Ohio) sheriff to lay off all six of the comm center dispatchers, replacing them with deputies. Sheriff Tim Bailey told a reporter, "I don't see a loss in service or the quality of service. If somebody calls with an emergency, we will answer it and someone will be there." County commissioners asked department heads to cut 6% from their budgets to make up a $2.6 million deficit. Bailey said he trimmed $80,000 from fuel and training, but needed another $92,050 in savings, which he obtained from the dispatcher cuts. The lay-offs are effective July 1st.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cameron shies away from public accountability

No comment. I just wanted to save this for posterity:o) But, I sure hope the citizens of Charlotte County wake up and demand better.

link: http://www.sunnewspapers.net/articles/edStory.aspx?articleID=439271


Cameron shies away from public accountability

OUR POSITION: We're dismayed that the Charlotte County sheriff managed to side-step a public budget review session.

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron found a convenient way last week to avoid potentially awkward public scrutiny of his $60 million budget: He pulled the plug.

Instead of meeting with all county commissioners in front of the public access TV cameras, Cameron opted to sit down with each board member, one-on-one, behind closed doors. No sunshine. No wide-ranging group discussion.

He even said he hadn't realized there had been a scheduled public budget session in the first place.

"Unbeknownst to me, I had already set up meetings with them. I didn't know they were doing that," the sheriff told Sun staffer Neil Hughes after the public meeting was canceled.

"It's much easier for me to talk with all five of them individually."

Of course it is.

As a constitutional officer, Cameron isn't necessarily required to go through his budget with the commission. He submits it; they either accept it as presented or not. If they reject it, he can appeal to the state, and Cameron has said he would do that if it were necessary. He shouldn't, but that's another issue.

In Sarasota, Sheriff Tom Knight gave an extensive, public budget rundown to commissioners Wednesday. He even posted his 27-page presentation on his Web site (www.sarasotasheriff.org.) No issue there. It was just the right thing to do.

One major point of the exercise is to let the tax-paying public in on the process. It is an opportunity for the sheriff to explain and to justify his department's spending at a time when all government is under extreme stress. The dismal climate has meant greater fiscal scrutiny for all departments, from libraries to planning services, kids' recreation to senior services.

It may even be a quarrelsome process, but it's always a healthy one. The public gets to find out what it's paying for. The sheriff gets to explain his approach to public safety, a core function of local government.

The big problem is that the sheriff's budget accounts for an enormous chunk of overall county spending. And as everyone knows, Charlotte County is looking at dramatic cuts this year, maybe as much as $50 million. More cuts in the Sheriff's Office could mean far fewer smaller cuts elsewhere. That's another reason to come clean in public, so citizens can weigh the various interests.

As it is, Cameron already has cut back 2 percent this year. That's nothing to be sneezed at, but it's far from the 15 percent in concessions sought by Commissioner Bob Starr. Starr has attacked most other parts of the county budget with a Bowie knife, so it's no surprise he expects a little more from the police. He's been tough with everyone else, so we all know he'll be tough with the sheriff.

But other commissioners have agreed that law enforcement shouldn't be subject to drastic cuts. They're willing to cut him some slack. Now, as Commissioner Adam Cummings said, the exercise has been short-circuited.

"It was always about getting the sheriff in front of us to make some more concessions, and he didn't play that game," Cummings said.

By avoiding a public hearing, Cameron has skipped out on an opportunity to explain and justify why his department needs this level of funding at this tough time. It's called accountability.

The sheriff took the easy way out, and the tax-paying public loses. Maybe it's time to man up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

from Dispatch Monthly On-Line

Link: http://www.911dispatch.com/db/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2577&Itemid=1

Sheriff Lays Off Entire Comm Center Staff

Saturday, June 13 2009

Budget cuts have forced the Marion County (Ohio) sheriff to lay off all six of the comm center dispatchers, replacing them with deputies. Sheriff Tim Bailey told a reporter, "I don't see a loss in service or the quality of service. If somebody calls with an emergency, we will answer it and someone will be there." County commissioners asked department heads to cut 6% from their budgets to make up a $2.6 million deficit. Bailey said he trimmed $80,000 from fuel and training, but needed another $92,050 in savings, which he obtained from the dispatcher cuts. The lay-offs are effective July 1st.

My opinion:

Mark seems to think that since I have so many opinions, I really should post a disclaimer stating that my opinions are not necessarily the same as the foundations. This is true. My opinions are my own. So, now that I said that, I'd like to say, this is awful and the sheriff sadly is going to have a reality check. Sadly, that reality check is probably going to be a tragedy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fathers who lost loved ones work to change 911 system

I'm hoping if you click the link you'll be able to see the TV news that aired. Somehow, we missed it. I'm so proud of you, Nathan.

link: http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/wfaa/localnews/news8/stories/wfaa090612_ac_911changes.72f3a756.html

11:19 AM CDT on Friday, June 12, 2009


When you call 911 you expect help, but there are no federal standards for training 911 dispatchers.

Now a Collin County man who blames the 911 system, in part, for his son's death is asking why not?

Michael Cantrell is teaming up with a new friend who knows his pain.

Nathan Lee's wife, Denise, was kidnapped and murdered in Florida.

She called 911 and so did a witness, but the call was never dispatched. Police never knew she needed help.

Tragedy brought the two fathers together.

Cantrell's son, Matthew, accidentally hanged himself in their backyard soccer net.

The family's call to 911 heeded little help.

Dispatchers gave no medical advice and then transferred the call, wasting precious minutes they believe could have saved their son.

"We've kind of built a long distance friendship over the last couple of months," Lee says of Cantrell.

And now, with the same motivations, the two men are pushing for federal standards for 911 operators.

"Like federal air traffic controllers, it's a federal mandating thing, but for some reason 911 isn't," Lee said.

"It's not magic," says Cantrell, "when you call 911 that everything is going to go smoothly."

The men are appealing to the federal level to create a uniform 911 system.

Currently, regulations can vary by state, even by county.

Lee says that's not good enough.

"In my eyes you truly are the first line of defense for homeland security," Lee told a group of emergency professionals. .

From better training to better equipment, the hope is to eliminate error.

"We all live in the bubbles," Cantrell said. "Until tragedy can strike you and your life is forever changed."

Cantrell misses his son Matthew every minute, but now he's redirecting that energy for change.

"It's more ammo for the fire to say this is why we're doing this," Lee says, "let's rally around and make it happen."

And together these new friends and partners say they will, step by step.

Monday, June 15, 2009

from Urgent Communications

I posted a synopsis of his speech late last week. I just came across this article. The author of the artice is so right! If you ever get the opportunity to hear Gordon Graham speak, do so!

Risk management is a laughing matter
Jun 9, 2009 11:04 AM, By Glenn Bischoff

FORT WORTH, Texas — Who doesn't like a "two-fer?" Whether it's a buy-one-get-one deal at the grocery store or a baseball doubleheader, more generally is viewed as better. Yesterday, at the National Emergency Number Association conference, attendees were treated to a unique two-fer, a keynote address that doubled as a stand-up comedy routine.

Gordon Graham was the speaker. His career is a two-fer: he started his professional life as a California Highway Patrol officer, rising through the ranks to captain before his retirement; later he became a successful attorney and educator. In 30 years of attending keynote addresses — the list includes such entertaining and/or inspiring speakers such as Mike Ditka, Bo Schembechler and Adrian Cronauer (whose exploits inspired the cult-classic movie "Good Morning, Vietnam") — Graham's stands alone. I'm not the only one who thought so. Throughout the day, I overheard similar comments. Indeed, Graham himself is a two-fer — someone who delivers a relevant, on-point message in a completely hilarious fashion.

His topic was risk management, and his message was remarkably simple: nearly every bad outcome is predictable and thus preventable. He used several historical examples to illustrate the point. The one I found most interesting was the most recent. He showed a copy of yesterday's USA Today, which reported that nearly every "serious" regional airline accident over the past 10 years involved at least one pilot who had previously failed a proficiency test. According to Graham, each of these incidents was predictable and preventable. "If your pilot can't pass the test, then maybe he shouldn't fly the plane," he said.

In contrast, Graham then presented US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed his airplane in New York City's Hudson River in January after several birds flew into the craft's engines, rending them inoperable. Sullenberger is a shining example of one of Graham's seven rules of risk management: training has to be constant and rigorous. "Every day needs to be a training day," Graham said.

He spoke of something that Sullenberger said in an interview shortly after his heroic actions saved the lives of everyone aboard Flight 1549. Sullenberger said that he tried, throughout his flying career, to make small deposits each day into his memory bank, knowing that one day he would "have to make a massive withdrawal," Graham said. It was a sound strategy, Graham said, because doing so enabled him to make instantaneous, life-and-death decisions on that fateful day. It's a lesson especially adaptable to the public-safety sector, whose personnel make such decisions on a daily basis.

"You will run into the unthinkable event someday, and you will have to make instantaneous decisions," Graham said. "Whether you are prepared to do so is up to you."

His other rules of risk management included the following:

Organizations must strive for continuous improvement in their personnel;
Organizations must hire quality people — "If you hire stupid people, they are not going to get better over time," Graham said;
An organization's supervisors must spot problems before they become tragedies;
An organization and its members must have a healthy respect for the dangers and risks they face;
An organization must establish performance metrics for its personnel and hold them accountable — "Rules without enforcement are just nice words," Graham said;
An organization and its personnel must be able and willing to learn from their mistakes.

Concerning the final rule, Graham told the story of a woman he encountered while a member of the California Highway Patrol. The woman lived near Malibu, Calif. On three separate occasions, each roughly a decade apart, wildfire destroyed the woman's home, which she promptly rebuilt on the same spot each time.

During the most recent wildfire, Graham said he received numerous e-mails from people who had attended one of his lectures at some point over the years and were now concerned that he might be in danger. The e-mails, which came from all over the country, were so numerous that Graham eventually was forced to craft a blanket response, which he wrote firm in the knowledge that "California catches on fire every year." It read, "Risk management is not a class I teach; it's a way of life. Do you really think I'd build my [freaking] house in the [freaking] woods?" Predictable and preventable.

If you ever have a chance to take in one of Graham's lectures, I urge you to do so. I guarantee you will learn something — and will be thoroughly entertained in the process.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I don't know how I missed this in the Charlotte Sun!!!

Nathan Lee pushing for national 911 changes

North Port Community News Editor

Hundreds of telecommunication employees throughout the United States who were visiting a booth sponsored by a local foundation learned about how a Southwest Florida mother of two young boys was kidnapped, raped and murdered and how her story will help change the industry.

In-between speaking to hundreds at the National Emergency Number Association Emergency Help conference Tuesday through Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, Nathan Lee shared his story before a crowd of about 2,400 attendees.

Nathan, whose wife, Denise Amber Lee, 21, was killed in North Port last January, believes she could have been saved if it weren't for major glitches in the 911 system.

Witness Jane Kowalski was on the line with 911 for nine minutes describing someone struggling in the back of a Camaro near U.S. 41 and Toledo Blade Boulevard, later believed to be Denise. Despite that lengthy effort, the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office failed to dispatch a single deputy. The Sheriff's Office also didn't relay the information Kowalski provided to the North Port Police Department, which was investigating the case.

The state is seeking the death penalty for suspect Michael King, 38, whose trial is set for August.

Nathan was invited to be one of the keynote speakers at the NENA conference Wednesday. He spoke for 15 minutes about what happened to Denise and how the foundation named after her is trying to change 911 operations to make them more uniform nationwide. Then he showed a 10-minute video of TV spots and clips of the couple.

"Nate did so well," said North Port City Commissioner Dave Garofalo, a member of the Denise Amber Lee Foundation who accompanied Nathan and three other members. "It was fantastic. We are well on our way to uniformed national training standards."

Nathan agrees.

"We met with the CEOs and head honchos in charge of 911 systems and were able to sell them on our cause," Nathan said. "All of them wanted to work together 100 percent with us."

Nathan said it's "nice to see that Denise is really making a difference."

"She is touching the lives of those in the industry and many others," he said. "Her tragedy will help revamp and reform the system that failed her."

Nathan said he met members of Matthew Cantrell's family. Cantrell, 21 months, died after he being entangled in a soccer net in his family's Texas home.

The family sued because they believed police didn't respond quickly enough after a 911 call was placed. They claim the operator allegedly refused to give CPR instructions to Matthew's distressed mother in the 2007 incident.

"We have been reaching out to other families and they are joining our cause as we go," Nathan said.

There are about six other conferences in Florida that Nathan has been invited to through December.

"We are also working with Florida legislators to lobby hard for uniform training standards and state certification for 911 telecommunicators," he added.

E-mail: eallen@sun-herald.com

My opinion: thank you, Elaine, for focussing on the positives!

Grapevine, Texas

For those of you who don't know..... Mark and I got stranded last night in Grapevine, Texas! We're here now and we won't be able to fly out until tomorrow AM. Ugh!

Apparently, Wednesday night (the night before we were to fly out) lightning hit the American Airlines tower at the airport. All flights (on AA) were delayed. Then yesterday they cancelled them all. Ugh!

Because it was a "weather related" incident and not a problem with the plane, in order not to lose the money for our original tickets, we need to fly back American Airlines. if there had been a problem with the plane we could've flown out on another airline. We still could've flown out on another airline but we would have had to pay full price for the tickets. Same day? yeah, right. $400-500 a ticket! One way! It was more cost effective to just stay in a hotel and eat sandwiches.

We're running into other 9-1-1 convention goers in our hotel. Some of our friends rented a car and went into Dallas today to see the "grassy knoll" and the building Oswald used etc........ Well, call me Debbie Downer but I'm just not into going to see the grassy knoll. Too, too depressing. Plus, I'm not a major fan of JFK. I love history. If it was Eisenhower's place in Gettysburg, or Robert E. Lee's birthplace in Arlington, or better Mount Vernon, then yes, I may have gone. But death, bullets, assassination. Not today. It's a shame to have that kind of opportunity and not do it. I think Mark would have gone but, no, I'm exhausted.

Also, I found out yesterday that my best friend's father maybe and most likely is dying. I wish I could be with her. I wish there was some way to help. She's been so SO SOOO supportive.... Crap. Now I'm crying thinking about how I'm not there for her.

Also, I can't stop thinking about that creep who thinks this is a vacation for us. What an ass. An utter ass.

Okay, Peggy, deep breath. Think of all the positive things happening.

And those positive things are being a part of a 9-1-1 community that could have shunned us but instead have welcomed us.

sigh. Sorry to whine. I really do feel like Debbie Downer. whaaa whaaa whaaa whaaa.

There's a jogging trail somewhere around here. No, I'm not going to jog! LOL!!!! But I will take a walk. Mark's on Nate's laptop working diligently answering and sending 9-1-1 emails. Lucky for me they have computers for use here in the lobby.

Off for a walk. Oh, and sorry, I keep playing with this template:o)

Seven Rules of Admiral Rickover by Gordon Graham


Continued Professional Training

June 8, 2009

SPEAKER: Gordon Graham


Seven Rules of Admiral Rickover”

Thanks for inviting me back to Texas to speak to you regarding your job as a representative of the telecommunications community. It is an absolute honor to be with you here today. My hat is off to you for all you do – and I recognize the key role you play in being the first point of contact between citizens in need and the public safety community. I may have met some of you in prior presentations, and if that is true you know my focus in life is in the Management of Risk.

There are all sorts of applications of the discipline of risk management. My goal is over the next two hours is to give you some ideas, strategies, tactics and thoughts on what you can do to better protect yourself, your team, your public, your organization, and your noble profession. Also, I would love to see you smile just a bit also. Let’s get started.

One of the great icons of the 20th Century was Admiral Hyman Rickover. He is know as the “father” of our nuclear navy and his efforts have made America safer. Born in Warsaw in 1900, Rickover rose to rank of Admiral and directed the development of our nuclear navy, which has a tremendous safety record. He recognized he was dealing with a highly risky, highly complex issue, and he developed rules for success.

How can these rules help you in your highly complex, highly risky world of telecommunications operations? How did his focus on quality control penetrate the organization so deeply so as to reach to the line employee level in the nuclear navy? Let’s take a look at each of these rules and explore the possibilities.

Rule 1. You must have a rising standard of quality over time, and well beyond what is required by any minimum standard.

We have to get better and better at what we do. Our public deserves it. Our personnel deserve it. We must be constantly looking for a better way to do things. Status Quo – we have always done it this way – is not longer acceptable.

On an organizational level, there are better ways to get and keep good people. There are better ways to build your policy manual. There are better ways to train your personnel. There are better ways to supervise. There are better ways to discipline errant employees.

On an operational level, we must improve our performance in response times, quality and timeliness of written reports, training, candor in performance evaluations, equipment andvehicle maintenance, physical conditioning, and anything else that we can measure.

Continuous improvement has got to be part of the way we do business.

Rule 2. People running complex systems should be highly capable.

Successful public safety operations require people who know how to think. Fifty years ago, you did not need to be all that sharp to be in public safety.

Things have changed. Technology, equipment, strategies and tactics involved in providing services to our constituents have all changed. This is an extremely complex job, and if you hire people who can’t think things through, you are in route to disaster.

If you allow the hiring of idiots, they will not disappoint you – they will always be idiots. In view of the consequences that can occur when things do not go right in your complex, high-risk job – this may end being the cause of a future tragedy.

Every nickel you spend in weeding out losers up front has the potential to save you amillion dollars. And I can prove that statement if you want me to.

Rule 3. Supervisors have to face bad news when it comes, and takeproblems to a level high enough to fix those problems.

When you take an honest look at tragedies in any aspect of public safety, from the lawsuits to the injuries, deaths, embarrassments, internal investigations and even the rare criminal filing, so many of them get down to supervisors not behaving like supervisors.The primary mission of a supervisor is “systems implementation”.

If you promote people who either can’t or won’t enforce policy, you are in route to tragedy. To be sure, the transition from line employee to supervisor is a difficult one, but the people you choose to be supervisors have to like their people so much, that they will enforce the policy to protect each of them from harm or loss.

Not to beat this point to death, but you show me a tragedy in public safety operations –including some in the news today – and I will show you the fingerprints of a supervisor not behaving like a supervisor.

And for those of you who have promoted, remember that every day families are entrusting you with the safety of their loved ones. This is a huge responsibility.

Rule 4. You must have a healthy respect for the dangers and risks ofyour particular job.

Many public safety jobs are high risk in nature, and the consequences for not doing things right can be dramatic. Remember the basic rules of Risk Management. RPM –Recognize, Prioritize, Mobilize.

You must do a risk assessment on each job in every public safety department and identify the tasks that have the highest probability of causing you grief. Then you must prioritize these tasks in terms of potential frequency, severity and available time to think prior to acting. Finally, you must mobilize (act) to address the recognized risks appropriately and prevent consequences.

Rule 5. Training must be constant and rigorous.

Every day must be a training day! We must focus the training on the tasks in every job description that have the highest probability of causing us grief. These are the High Risk, Low Frequency, Non Discretionary time events. We must assure that all personnel are adequately trained to address the tasks that give them no time to think, and that they understand the value of thinking things through when time allows.

Rule 6. All the functions of repair, quality control and technicalsupport must fit together.

Audits and inspections are an important part of your job as a leader in public safety. We cannot assume that all is going well. We must have control measures in place to assurethings are being done right. This is not micro-management – It is called doing your job.

If you do not have the audits (formal and informal) in place, you will not know aboutproblems until they become consequences, and then you are in the domain of lawyers.That is too late for action, as all you can do then is address the consequences.

And if you take the time to study the life of Admiral Rickover, you will quickly learn thathe was widely despised in the Navy because of his insistence on using the audit processas a tool to hold people accountable.

Rule 7. The organization and members thereof must have the abilityand willingness to learn from mistakes of the past.

Analysis of past data is the foundation for almost all of risk management. We (public safety operations) keep on making the same mistakes over and over again.

As I read the lawsuits, injuries and deaths, organizational embarrassments, internal investigations and even the rare criminal filing against our personnel I know that we can learn so much by studying the mistakes we have made in the past. It all gets down to Risk Management.

Here are three statements that have guided me through most of my adult life. First is a quote, albeit paraphrased, from the great risk management guru of the 40’s, Archand Zeller.

“The Human does not change. During the period of recorded history, there is little evidence to indicate that man has changed in any major respect. Because the man does not change, the kinds oferrors he commits remain constant. The errors that he will make can be predicted from the errors he has made.”

What does this mean? We have not figured out any new ways to screw things up. We are making the same mistakes over and over again. Refineries have not figured out any new ways to blow up. Police have not figured out any new ways to get in trouble. Restaurants have not figured out any new ways to kill people. Planes have not figured outany new ways to crash. Fire Departments and firefighters have not figured out any new ways to get in trouble.

And Telecommunications personnel have not figured out any new ways to get in trouble. Please do not give me that nonsense that “bad things just happen”. I am sick of hearing that faulty “poor me” refrain. There are no new ways to get in trouble. To be sure, there are variations on a theme, but in reality it is the same stuff over and over again. Let me jump ahead in the lecture.


By the end of our brief time together today, I want you to fully understand that you, regardless of what your job is, are in a great position to do something about all of this right now.

The second statement important in my life thus far came from my mentor, professor and friend Chaytor Mason. He was a risk management guru in the 70’s. Here is a capsulized version of his response when I accused him of being the smartest person who ever lived.

“The smartest person in the world is the woman or man who finds the fifteenth way to hold two pieces of paper together.”

My instant response when I first heard this was confusion, but then I figured it out.While there are no new ways to screw things up (Zeller) there are always new ways to fine tune and revisit our existing systems. We must be looking for new and improved ways of doing this most complex job, and you are the ones who can do that. There are better ways to hire telecomm personnel, and there are better ways to train them. There are better ways of doing performance evaluations, and there are better ways to do the things we are tasked with doing.

Status quo (we have always done it that way – we have never done it that way) does not work. There is a better way of doing business, the 15th way, and we must constantly be looking for it. My third belief in life is a summary of the above two thoughts.

“Things that go wrong in life are predictable and predictable is preventable.”

Thanks for your patience. I have been using this line since 1980 and I appreciate your indulgence. Want proof? Take a look at your newspaper today. These handouts were finalized on May 14. And every May it starts to warm up and people get in boats for an early start for the summer and they don’t know how to operate the boat safely and they overturn it and some will drown. And every year the US Coast Guard tells us that 800 or so people drown and 90% have got PFD’s on their boat – and 90% aren’t wearing this device. Already this year we have seen this occur with the NFL guys in Florida.

And now we are in June and later this month we will have the kids dying on the way home from their Prom – alcohol and high speed will be the cause. And in July it will be more kids dying in hot cars. And in August it will be the kids dying from dehydration during football practice and in September California will burn down again – as it does every year in September. It goes on and on, but…


It was an honor to address you today. I hope you leave with an enhanced vision of the value of risk management. And I hope our discussion today will give you something you can do when you get back to work to improve your specific NENA operations. Finally, please keep our soldiers and sailors in your prayers. Without them, we would be in one heck of a fix right now. I look forward tos eeing you again soon. In the interim, if you need anything, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Gordon Graham

Link: http://www.nena.org/sites/default/files/Rickover%20NENA.pdf

Thursday, June 11, 2009

National certification program for 911 telecommunicators is long overdue

Great article! Thank you, Glenn, for sharing our story. Thank you, Craig Whittington for introducing us to Glenn. You, dear Craig, are going to be an absolutely fantastic NENA president especially if you accomplish all you've set out to do. It's clear your family loves you, and your NENA family loves you. God bless you with guidance and strength through your journey as president. And again, thank you for helping us.

Before you all read the article there are some very minor errors regarding Denise's call. (Admittedly it is a complicated story). She did get a hold of her abductor's cell phone and kept the call taker on the line or 7 minutes giving as much information as she could. That call was handled very professionally and our hats off to the call taker who had to take that call. It must have been an emotionally difficult call. God bless you. The call that was not aired went to a different comm center. The eyewitness had that particular call taker on the line for 9 minutes giving cross streets. That call taker in a neighboring county failed to enter the information immediately and they failed to dispatch a car and worse never let the neighboring agencies know about the call. It's very glaring when listening to the 9-1-1 calls how different the counties are as far as standards. And Mr Graham is absolutely correct that supervisors need to be held accountable.

In any case, thank you for telling our story. Hopefully the 9-1-1 industry can learn from this debacle and minimize some of these errors by insisting on having our very first line of defense (call takers) become certified and make them live up to a set of standards.

National certification program for 911 telecommunicators is long overdue

Jun 11, 2009 1:59 PM, By Glenn Bischoff


FORT WORTH, Texas — In his keynote address earlier this week at the National Emergency Number Association conference, Gordon Graham, the erstwhile motorcycle cop turned litigator/educator, spent much of the hour talking about the value of ongoing rigorous training, performance metrics and accountability as risk-management tactics. He bemoaned the lack of core-competency tests in the 911 emergency communications sector.

"Once you are hired, you will never have to take another test, if you don't want to be promoted. The public deserves better," Graham said.

Regarding those promotions, Graham also spoke of the need for supervisors to do the jobs for which they were hired.

"On every public-safety tragedy, I guarantee that you will find the fingerprints of supervisors who didn't act like a supervisor," he said. "Too many supervisors can't make the transition from buddy to boss. This is a problem lying in wait. You have to promote people who have the guts to supervise."

Graham's message was music to the ears of Craig Whittington, NENA's newly elected president, who spent six years on the organization's educational committee before joining its executive board in 2007. He told me shortly after Graham's speech that he would like to see a national certification program for 911 call-takers and dispatchers.

"You have to be certified to operate a tanning booth, but for 911 — the most critical link in emergency response — there is no certification," Whittington said.

The family and friends of Denise Amber Lee couldn't agree more with that sentiment. The 21-year-old Lee was abducted from her Florida home in January 2008, then brutally raped, killed and buried in a shallow grave by her assailant. She was found two days after her abduction. Lee's family and friends believe she might be alive today had the system — and those who work in it — performed better on the day of her abduction and have created a foundation in her name that champions 911-sector reform.

The first 911 call on that day was reportedly placed by Lee's husband Nathan, who had returned to the family's home in mid-afternoon to discover his wife missing and his two young sons — ages 2 and 6 months at the time — together in the baby's crib. The 911 center that took the call promptly reportedly issued a "be on the lookout" alert, or BOLO, which the family alleges was missed inexplicably by the 911 center in an adjacent county. At some point during the ordeal, the assailant drove through that county with Denise Lee in tow.

Later in the afternoon, a witness reportedly called 911 to report that a child in the back seat of a green Camaro was pounding on the window and screaming hysterically. The "child" was Denise Lee. According to Lee's family, that call was received by the 911 center that allegedly missed the first BOLO. Somehow, her family alleges, no BOLO ever was issued for the call from the eye witness.

Denise Lee's father works in that county as a police detective. He said in an interview on a network television newsmagazine that he was told by one fellow officer that the officer was certain the vehicle drove "right by him" but he had no idea that he should pursue because "he never received the information."

Reportedly, the county's sheriff defended the performance of the 911 center's call-takers and dispatchers that night, but he acknowledged that mistakes were made. Two dispatchers were suspended as a result of this incident.

During the ordeal, Denise Lee somehow managed to get her hands on the assailant's wireless phone without him knowing. She placed a call to 911 and cleverly gave the call-taker vital information, such as the type of car and its location — down to the cross streets — by speaking in a way that made her assailant think she was talking to him. After 7 to 9 minutes — reports vary — the assailant caught on and the call ended. Somehow, the crucial information provided by Denise Lee never made it to officers in the field, according to her family. And, her location couldn't be identified by the 911 system because she used a pre-paid wireless phone to place the call.

Steve Largent, the former congressman from Oklahoma and member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, spoke during the NENA conference in his current role of CTIA president and CEO. He told of one particular tactic used by his Seattle Seahawks coach Chuck Knox, who was the first to regularly practice the plays the team would use at the end of games when they desperately needed to score. Today, every team does this, but in Largent's playing days, the practice was considered cutting-edge. According to Largent, the tactic was quite effective, because the players knew just what to do at the most stressful, frenetic juncture of the game.

Before telling the Knox story, Largent said something that well could be applied to the Lee tragedy. "You [911 call-takers and dispatchers] are a phone call people hope they never have to make. They count on you. You have to have a game plan in place and know what play to call."

There are few jobs as stressful as that of 911 call-taker/dispatcher. No one outside of that world can empathize with what these dedicated professionals encounter on a daily basis. When journalists make mistakes, publications run corrections. When 911 telecommunicators make mistakes, people die. Undeniably, it's a tough job — which is all the more reason for them to be at the top of their game.

The Denise Amber Lee Foundation is lobbying for the creation of a national certification program for 911 call-takers and dispatchers. "We want to ensure that no other family has to endure the pure hell our family has experienced," Nathan Lee said this week at the NENA conference.

It seems like a reasonable request.

9-1-1 What is your emergency

June 4, 2009

‘9-1-1. What’s your emergency?’If you don’t have an emergency, you probably should call someone else

By Jade McDowell
of The Chronicle

If you are on the phone and hear “9-1-1, what is your emergency?” the correct answer is never going to be “I don’t have an emergency, but…”
As the weather warms up and school lets out, misuse of the 9-1-1 emergency number increases, tying up the phone lines and preventing attention to real emergencies.
“If you know it is not an emergency, then you should be looking up phone numbers or calling Information,” said local dispatcher Zoe Middleton. “Remember you are tying up an emergency line when someone with a true emergency may be trying to call us.”
She said an emergency is an event in progress requiring immediate attention of medical, fire or law enforcement professionals. Examples include a heart attack, serious injury, fire, car accident or burglary in progress.
However, there are plenty of times when 9-1-1 should not be called. A person should think about whether or not there is an immediate danger. If a few extra minutes won’t make a difference, 9-1-1 is the wrong number to use. For example, it is usually inappropriate to call 9-1-1 for information, a ride to an appointment or for an officer to come “scare” a little child into doing their chores.
Usually if the caller is not making a prank call they are let off with a warning the first time, but misuse of an emergency number is a crime. A man from Aloha recently spent the night in jail after calling 9-1-1 to complain about a rude McDonald’s employee.
“If a person continues to call us without an emergency, we will charge them,” Middleton said.
It is also a crime to intentionally give false information to emergency services.
She said if someone accidentally calls 9-1-1 they shouldn’t panic and hang up. It is important for the person to stay on the line and explain the mistake so dispatchers don’t waste time trying to find out whether or not there is actually an emergency.
Sometimes small children will inadvertently call 9-1-1 when their parents give them their old cell phone to play with, thinking the phone is safe if it is deactivated and doesn’t have a memory card. The best way to ensure the child will not reach 9-1-1 is to take out the battery completely.
“Even when they don’t have service, they can still dial 9-1-1,” Jennifer Spino, another local dispatcher, said. “If they are charged, they will call 9-1-1.”
When a person does call with a legitimate emergency they need to be able to give dispatchers as exact a location as possible. Dispatchers will be able to trace a call from a landline, but many callers now use cell phones, which don’t give an exact address. New phones equipped with GPS can give dispatchers a general area, but they rely on callers to be able to give them an exact location.
If there are multiple people around, the person with the best knowledge of the location should call. It also helps to have someone waiting outside to guide emergency workers to the exact spot.
For this reason, parents should make sure babysitters know their street address, phone number and full names. Posting this and other important contact information by the phone is always a good idea.
Parents should also teach their children the information as soon as they are old enough to understand it. Adults should emphasize calling 9-1-1 is only for an emergency and then go over what types of situations would count as an emergency. The number should always be referred to as “nine-one-one” instead of “nine-eleven.”
“Kids always follow what it is you teach them, so they will look for an 11 on the phone,” Middleton said.
While on the phone it is important to stay calm, she said. Yelling and screaming and does not make help arrive any faster. It also distorts the sound, making it harder for dispatchers to get the information they need. Sometimes the questions they ask may seem unimportant, but 9-1-1 dispatchers are trained professionals and know what information emergency responders need most.
Dispatchers will not diagnose symptoms or give medical advice, but they can help walk a person through needed emergency treatments such as CPR or delivering a baby. They will stay on the phone as long as they are needed, usually until help arrives in the case of medical emergencies.
The 9-1-1 system in the United States was put into place in 1968. The National Emergency Number Association estimates about 240 million 9-1-1 calls are placed each year.

Non-emergency numbers:
The Dalles Police Station: (541) 296-2233 (nonemergency request officer), (541) 296-2613 (police office)
Wasco County Sheriff/Animal Control: (541) 296-5454
Fire Department: (541) 298-4178
Mid Columbia Medical Center: (541) 296-1111
Poison Control: (800) 222-1222
General Information: 4-1-1

My opinion

I love this! It's a fantastic article and when we get home I'm going to post our local information. Anything that helps!

King's attorneys ask to move trial in murder of Denise Lee

By Todd Ruger

Published: Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 11:18 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 11:18 a.m.

SARASOTA COUNTY - The community reaction and publicity surrounding the kidnapping and murder of Denise Amber Lee mean extra preparations for the trial of her alleged attacker, which is scheduled to begin in August.

Related Links:
The legacy of Denise Amber Lee
Moving ceremony for Denise Lee
Denise Lee-inspired 911 law passes
King pleads not guilty in death of Lee
Sheriff standing by handling of 911 call
On night Lee died, chances were lost
Did 911 call slip through cracks?
An unsettling portrait of a suspect

External Links:
TOPICS: Slaying of Denise Amber Lee

Denise Amber Lee Jurors will be asked individually what they remember about media coverage of Michael King, 38, who is charged with kidnapping, rape and murder. Jurors will also be asked whether they discussed the case on the Internet through blogs or by posting to message boards, court records show.

King’s attorneys are asking that the trial be moved somewhere else in the state because of extensive publicity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for King.

The case became the topic of a "Dr. Phil" show and hourlong national network shows, and became an impetus for improving emergency call centers across Florida.

If it stays in Sarasota County, the trial will be held in the largest courtroom to accommodate family, media and the public, as well as an extra large pool of potential jurors. It is expected to last three weeks.

Lee, 21, was reported missing from her North Port home on the afternoon of Jan. 17.

Her body was found two days later in a shallow grave six miles from her home.

King was arrested on a kidnapping charge the night of the abduction and was charged with murder after the body was found. He is being held in solitary confinement at the Sarasota County Jail.

A lab has matched King’s DNA to DNA found on Lee’s body, according to court documents filed by the prosecution.

My opinion

Well, we can't say this surprises us. Mostly my blog has been about 9-1-1 and, of course, Denise and our grief. sigh.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Never say never but........

I don't know. My heart is just breaking. I'm really going to have to re-think coming on these trips. My emotions are in tatters. Such a roller coaster.

It's been a battle trying to stay sane. And, no, it's not anybody's fault. It's just a friggin roller coaster.

Lots has happened today. Some heartwarming, other stuff not so heartwarming.

Nathan gave his speech and he did very well. Sadly, most of the people left before he got to speak. I can't express my disappointment. It just runs too deep. No ones fault. It just is what it is.

Everybody has been extremely supportive. But, why do I still feel so heartbroken?

I don't know. We know no matter how many times we tell the story it won't bring Denise back. We know that. If dispatchers and call takers can learn from this then I guess the cause is worth while.

I'm just not sure if I'm necessary on these trips. Of course, I'd do anything for Nathan and Denise. Anything.

But I gotta tell you, it hurts. I don't know how he does it.

Today we met Matthew Cantrell's parents and their new son. Gosh, that was heartbreaking too. Another family devastated. It's just sad. What a beautiful couple. Ave described the pain perfectly. She said "24/7".

I'm so sick of people telling us in not so many words "you have to get over it". "Recognize you have a problem and fix it".

Well, it's not so easy.

Miss you, Denise. I'll alw ays miss you. We're trying, sweetheart. I hope you're looking down and you're proud of Nathan. He has a very tough road.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Denise Amber Lee Foundation in Fort Worth

So far so good. It's been a little difficult because emotions, IMO, are running high. We had the 5K run on Saturday. Mark, Nathan and Amber were all up extremely early on Saturday. And then, of course, we were all up very early Sunday. People, especially moi, get cranky when they are tired. Amber has been a trooper throughout putting up with all the various emotional meltdowns. David Garofalo has the battle of not only dealing with our emotional meltdowns but has the important job of networking. I don't know what we would do without either of them. Dave have his family here too. How wonderful is that? I was hoping to spend more time with his wife and son. I don't really know them as well as I'd like. I want to tell her how wonderful Dave has been to us. He's an important cog in the wheel for so many reasons.

Thank you David and Amber. We miss you, Dave Dignam.

Working the booth can be difficult. Constantly having to repeat the story to educate the people who are not familiar with our story and cause can be emotionally draining but well worth it in the end. Once they understand what we're all about and that we just want to drive change for improvements you can almost see relief on their faces. Most are truly appalled at what happened in the comm center that night. But it seems all understand how it may have happened. If the industry can learn from the mistakes made in Denise's case then...... again, telling our story is worth it. Many are now going to take Denise's story back to their dispatch centers and they are going to ask their dispatchers and call takers "how would you have handled this", "what went wrong", "where did the procedures start to break down" and "what can we do better"?

That's very very cool to us.

All the national industry experts are meeting with our foundation this morning. Many important 9-1-1 experts will be in the meeting. People from NENA (National Emergency Number Association), NAED (National Academies of Emergency Dispatch), 9-1-1 CARES, The E911 Institute and APCO (The Association of Public Safety). There are probably others who I am forgetting.

We'll see what happens. NENA, NAED and 9-1-1 CARES have been especially supportive and continue to encourage us. I feel their genuine support and concern. The others? Eh, I'm not so sure but we'll see.

I couldn't imagine why they wouldn't support our cause. Afterall, it's about public safety not politics.

We have a new mission statement:

"To promote and support public safety through uniform training, standardized protocols, defined measurable outcomes and technological advances in the 9-1-1 system."

We'll see. I won't be in the meeting. I think I was voted out because I talk too much! LOL! That's probably true and I do tend to be emotional.

Tomorrow we meet Michael Cantrell and hopefully the rest of his family. I'm especially looking forward to that. Why? It'll just be so nice to meet someone that REALLY TRULY understands our resolve, drive and determination. Bittersweet. Bitter because if it wasn't for the loss of their little boy and our loss of Denise, we would never even have known each other. sigh. I only hope we can all garner strength from each other.

Nathan's speech is tomorrow.

OH! And Nathan received an award from 911 CARES for all the work he's been doing!! That was pretty darn cool.

Better go. Lots to do. Another busy day. Who knows what it will bring!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fort Worth

We leave early in the morning! Wish us Godspeed and good luck.........

I'm nervous, excited, anxious, concerned and ready.

Much and love and peace!

New 5K run raises money for 911 reform

New 5K run raises money for 911 reform

Assistant Englewood Editor

MANASOTA KEY — More than 200 runners, walkers and strollers showed up at Englewood Beach early Saturday for the first "Angels in Blue" 5K Run/Walk, sponsored by the Denise Amber Lee Foundation. In the process, they helped raise funds for what some call the nation's splintered 911 call system.

Denise was kidnapped from her North Port home and murdered in January 2008. Four 911 calls, including one from Denise, failed to bring authorities to her aid in time to save her.

She left behind a husband and two small sons, who attended the 5K run Saturday along with family and friends.

Since her murder, a foundation was created in her name to promote and support public safety, bring about improved standards, and restore public confidence in the 911 system.

"Everybody wants to do something but not everybody can give a lot to 911 reform and the system that failed Denise," said Nathan Lee, Denise's widower. "It's heartwarming to see so many people come out."

Nathan has become a spokesman in a national effort and said he plans to attend eight conferences this year on 911 reform.

The biggest challenge facing reform is funding, Nathan said.

"Most states pay for 911 funding," he said. "We're going to start pushing for federal funding. I'm trying to prevent another Denise tragedy."

The weather for the 5K promised to be stormy, but held until most runners had returned to the finish line on Englewood Beach.

The turnout impressed Bob Geyer, who coordinated the race.

"This is going to become an annual event and I can see why," he predicted. "This one is very successful because of the numbers of people."

Geyer runs with Zoomers Southwest Florida Running and Triathalon Club, which meets in Port Charlotte, with members from Sarasota to Fort Myers.

About 100 people preregistered and another 100-plus signed up the day of the race.

Wearing Denise Amber Lee arm bands, visors and T-shirts, the crowd followed a route along Beach Drive, accompanied by police escorts.

Englewood resident Eric Botelho, 37, won the men's 5K run in 18 minutes and 29 seconds.

Just getting back into racing after knee injuries, he said he watched as high school students took off "way too fast" at the start, only to fall behind later in the race.

Second and third place went to Dylan Ireland, 16, and Derrick Lindberg, 18, both Lemon Bay High School students.

"Our pace needs a little work," Dylan said. "This is our first race since track season ended."

Runners found the track along Beach Drive more difficult than it first appeared.

"It's a long straightaway and no turns," Dylan said. "It makes it seem like you're running slower and like the race is never going to end."

Practicing what she preaches, Bethany Heslam, 44, won the women's 5K run. Heslam coaches track and cross country at Port Charlotte High School.

"It's a good race for a great cause," she said. "The course is a little deceiving. It's nice to have some turns to focus on. We were focusing on real estate signs."

Stefany Sanchez-Smith, 18, a recent Port Charlotte High School graduate, placed second in the women's race.

E-mail: dsanchez@sun-herald.com


Friday, June 5, 2009

A tragedy in Tulsa, Oklahoma

A true tragedy. Be prepared because this is disturbing. The website says:

Warning: This is a tape of a 911 call from Kimberlyn Rae Kendrick to dispatchers in Pryor before she drowned in her car May 2. This tape may contain material that is disturbing to some listeners.
The Tulsa World requested the tape of the 911 call from Kendrick as part of its duty to inform readers about how well their government is working, said Executive Editor Joe Worley.
"We believe it is important for citizens to understand how well their emergency operations systems are responding. This case provides insight into that system and hopefully will bring discussion about possible ways to improve it.''


What took so long???????? TEN MINUTES!!!! Well, IMO, and I'm no 9-1-1 expert but I have learned this much, we need to be able to locate cell phones!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Rep Mike Reynolds (R) Oklahoma, wants to cut back 9-1-1 funding?????

After ten minutes the fire department is still asking "which road?" God above.

Why are we not using GPS technology in cell phones and 9-1-1 centers? That's the tragedy here. The fire department and 9-1-1 center were doing, IMO, their best. It's the funding and not using technology that's available.

This woman was on the phone for 10 minutes. If we were using GPS technology in all cell phones and 9-1-1 centers she'd be alive today. And so would Denise. I was told I would cry when I listened to this but all it does is make me angry but my heart is breaking. I'm crying on the inside. I feel as if I'm bleeding on the inside.

She could have been saved.