North Port husband pushes Washington for better 911 call systems


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North Port husband pushes Washington for better 911 call systems

By Sara Belsole. CREATED Nov 18, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. - One North Port husband is on a mission to improve 911 call centers.

Nathan Lee traveled to Washington, D.C. Monday to speak with the FCC and find better ways to track 911 cellphone calls.

"With today's technology, 911 should be able to pinpoint an exact location 100% of the time," Lee said. "We can pull out our cellphones and find out where we are in seconds, but for some reason the communication between the wireless carriers and 911 isn't seamless, there's been issues."

Those issues hit close to home for Lee. His wife, Denise Amber Lee, was abducted from their North Port home in 2008. She was able to call 911 from her abductor's car, but operators weren't able to track her location. Her body was found in a shallow grave days later.

It's a tragedy Lee says he doesn't want anyone else to experience. His meeting in Washington is just another step towards his goal to inspire change.
"I stood up in that room and said,  'how many people have died since we started this workshop this morning because we couldn't locate people who called 911?' And the whole room was really quiet and I don't think anyone really wanted to know that number," Lee said.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office's 911 call center has the most up-to-date technology available, but if you call 911 from your cellphone they can only pinpoint your location within 100 meters. That's the length of a football field.
"It is troublesome at times, especially if you're in a two or three story building," LCSO Communications Director Sherry Groff said. "You're not going to know exactly where in the building, just that you're somewhere in that building and it's going to take more time to locate someone."
It's even more difficult to locate someone if they are in a place without service or in a moving car, like Denise Amber Lee.
"It would pull it every so many seconds and we wouldn't know what those seconds are because we don't have that technology," said Matt Rechkemmer, the E-911 Program Manager for Lee County.
But Lee says hopefully someday they will have the technology and he won't stop fighting for Denise.
"I know she's looking down and just glad to see change happening," Lee said.
Denise Amber Lee has already caused major changes in the way Florida handles 911 calls. A law was passed in her name in 2011 that requires all 911 call center employees to complete communications training before becoming certified to answer 911 calls.