From: Chairman of the Illinois Public Safety Telecommunicator Training Standards and Certification Initiative Committee
A few years ago, Nathan was invited to be the sole closing session speaker at the IPSTA (Illinois Public Safety Telecommunications Association) state conference in Springfield, Illinois. I was aware of the Lee family tragedy, but as an APCO Board member, I was concerned about the content of what Nathan might say.
The conference was attended by 600 or so public safety officials; senior management, supervisory personnel and call-takers/dispatchers.
The conference hall was filled with every seat occupied. Nathan began his presentation and showed a heart wrenching video of his life with Denise and the hole that her loss has left. The audience uncharacteristically hung on his every word. Other than his voice, there was a eerie silence in the room.
I've worked in emergency communications for the last 42 years and thought there was not much that could unnerve or astonish me. However that day was certainly unforgettable.
That experience changed my life. I decided on that day, at that meeting, I would do whatever it took to ensure that all Illinois PSAP call-takers and dispatchers would have standardized training and mandatory certification. Each time I attend a DAL presentation, I find my heart aching for the Lee family, eyes watering and my resolve firmly intact.
Nathan's tragedy has changed the emergency communications' profession, not just in Florida, but in many places across the country. Thank you for not succumbing to hatred and anger. Through your personal strength and willingness to share your family's story, you have shown us in 9-1-1 that there is work to be done so that no other family must bear the loss that yours has.
North Suburban Emergency Communications Center
Des Plaines, IL
It was a pleasure to meet you and Nathan at the conference. I was again brought to tears as I sat and listened to Denise's story. I must say it was more emotional this time - watching Nathan and his obvious pain. As a law enforcement officer and trainer for over 30 years - I still have a hard time imagining how this could happen. As a child growing up with a police officer Denise must have had every confidence in the system that failed her.
As I told you at the conference - I am sure my words bring little comfort to your family, but if it helps, I have to tell you that without Denise's tragedy - I doubt that Arkansas would have ever gotten training for our telecommunicators. Bud Gray and Shannon McCuin first heard her story at a national conference and were so moved that they came back and began a campaign for telecommunicators across this state. With Denise in mind and telling her story again and again - they succeeded on March 23, 2011 when Act 640 was signed into law. It offers training to any dispatcher in our state that wants it - free of charge.
I am the Coordinator for the training. In the last 7 months; since the development of our curriculum, we have certified almost 200 telecommunicators. We show Denise's story at every class. Your sacrifice has changed their professional lives. If each one of them could, they would thank your family. They will never forget the responsibility they have to the community to be right - every time. It brings to their minds that they are not in a profession that allows such costly mistakes.
I believe that with these first steps Arkansas will eventually be supportive of mandatory training and advanced training. As difficult as your task may be, I hope that your family continues your efforts to fight for mandatory training.
I close with a heartfelt thank you from the citizens of Arkansas. We can never make up for what you have lost - but please know that we are certain that with every training - lives are saved. My favorite Bible story is when Joseph, sold by his brothers into slavery, in later years has the opportunity to save them from starvation. The morale of the story and Genesis 50: 20 says, What you meant for evil God has turned to good. Thank you and your family for taking some of the evil in this world and turning it to good. May God bless you.
Telecommunication Training Coordinator
Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy
I was in that class and must say, YOU are the most AWESOME PERSON I know. It amazes me how you can do this type of training. I hope you understand what you have done for everyone that attends your seminar, It is a true eye opener and only makes everyone a step better.
Thank You so much for your time.
John Williams, Cpl
Havre de Grace, MD Police Dept.
THANK YOU for this morning's class. It was a GREAT reminder of why I choose to do what I love!! If I can make a positive difference in just ONE life each day, then I know I have achieved something immeasurable!! YOU are a pillar of strength and love setting a great example for all of us!
Jane Magness, Telecommunicator
Words can not express the gratitude we, in Harford County, MD feel to have heard your story first hand. You and your foundation are a true driving force for the 911 community and where it needs to be some day. Please have a safe trip home. If ever you doubt your mission, give us a call. We'll lift you up.
Tamara Haney, Telecommunicator
I cannot thank you and Nathan enough for the wonderful session you presented at our conference. All of the feedback we received from the attendees was outstanding. I have no doubt the impact will be long lasting.
Susan M. Webster
Northwest CT Public Safety
Communication Center, Inc.
As for the vote, thanks to Nathan's presentation we passed the voluntary certification and training standard on a unanimous voice vote! In addition, I'm drumming up support among our people and through vendors and even hotel staff who witnessed Nathan's talk. I'm taking up the challenge of ramming this through the legislature. I'm fairly certain I'll be fighting a very up-hill battle, but I'm up to the task. We can't even begin talking about the subject until after the November elections. By then the political landscape will look very different and I'll have a better idea who I can enlist to help us. I'm not stopping until we have a similar law to the one you guys pushed through Florida.
Also, as a side note, Doug Hackett is the communications director of the Hanover, NH police department. He headed back to work today and his first order of business is to paint a sign on the door to dispatch that will read, "Remember Denise Amber Lee!" He was one of the many who knew nothing of your family tragedy and was literally in tears at the end. He wants every one of his dispatchers to continually remember how important each call is and never take for granted that a "nuisance" call is truly a nuisance.
I can't thank either you enough for your tremendous help, and I'll be sending along a formal letter through the foundation to that effect. I also want to contribute a little something ($) to the foundation. It won't be a lot, but it will certainly be sincere. Please let Nathan know that he hit a major home run and that he totally captivated his audience. Now that we've got them hooked, the time has come to pull them into the boat, and I'm just the guy for that job. I'll be in touch regularly to give you updates. One thing is for certain: every legislator in this state is going to see the video!
My warmest regards and thanks to you both.
New Hampshire Emergency Dispatchers Association (NHEDA)
You lectured at the New Hampshire Emergency Dispatchers Association Conference on Wed April 11,2012 and I am writing to say I appreciate that you can take your tragedy and make it into a learning experience for all. I am a brand new dispatcher (2 mos) in this field. As I talked to MANY people at the NHEDA confrence, ALL were very moved by your story. I just wanted to thank you again for the inspiring lecture. It has made me know that I will always strive for more knowledge and excellence in my performance in my new profession.
On behalf of Women's Sertoma Club of Venice, I'd like to thank you for speaking at our recent general meeting. You've made us more aware of the criticality of training and certification for 911 personnel. Wishing you continued success in your mission.
Vice-President, Women's Sertoma Club of Venice.