Denise Amber Lee of North Port, Florida was kidnapped from her home in 2008. She was found dead a few days later. But her family says she should still be alive. Several 911 calls made by Lee and others who spotted her moments before her death never got to police.
"Never take a call for granted."
When we call 911 , we assume help's on the way.
"Take each call as if it's one of your family members," says Steve Turner, a dispatcher with the Owensboro-Daviess Co. 911 Center. Nathan Lee did on January 17th, 2008.
"They're the first link in the chain for our homeland security," he says.
But that link broke when his wife was kidnapped from her home. Lee says his wife would still be alive if the 911 center in Charlotte County, Florida better handled 911 calls from eyewitnesses spotting her in the car of her abductor hours before her death.
"If that link in the chain doesn't work properly, the police officer will never get to the crime in process, that firefighter won't get to that fire," Lee says. "It's just incredibly important."
That's why he's helping train western Kentucky dispatchers with the Denise Amber Lee foundation by raising standards and getting dispatchers to know the importance of every call so help is always on the way.
"You have to make sure it's handled, not just on your end, but make sure everybody in the room is aware," Turner says. "Work as a team that the main thing. Make sure you don't just put the call in and move on."
"It's such an admirable profession to be in," Lee adds. "They wake up every morning or every night, whatever shift they're on, and they get to save lives."
The Lee Foundation's working with several more states, including Illinois, to have mandatory standards for dispatchers.