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.