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.


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