Friday, January 21, 2011

Impact Case Study - 911 Reform

Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice
601 Tamiami Trail South, Venice, Florida 34285

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make a community ask, Is this the best we can do for our citizens?

The January 2008 abduction, rape, and murder of 21-year-old North Port wife and mother Denise Amber Lee was one such tragedy. Though calls to 911 were placed by eyewitnesses, no patrol cars were dispatched because of inefficiencies in a 911 call center.

In the aftermath of Denise Lee’s murder, Gulf Coastcommissioned an independent study of the 911 system in Florida.
“Florida 911: The State of Emergency” analyzed all components of emergency response that are activated when a person in need of assistance tries to call 911 in Florida. This marked the first time that 911 in Florida had been analyzed from the placement of a call to the arrival of the first responder on the scene.

Gulf Coast’s study found that Florida’s 911 system was not a “system” at all, but rather a patchwork of state and local agencies, protocols, and technologies cobbled together to respond to 911 calls. It provided policymakers and advocates like the Denise Amber Lee Foundation, which was created by Denise’s husband Nathan, with objective analysis to support their impassioned efforts to reform the 911 system.

Thanks to the work of state Senator Nancy Detert, state Representative Ken Roberson, Nathan Lee, and others, a new law was signed in May 2010 that will require uniform training and certification of 911 operators statewide. The new standards will help close a major gap in Florida’s emergency 911 system—one of many that are identified in Gulf Coast’s study.