Kyle Plush's parents call for better 911 nationwide

National spotlight on the Plush family
Updated: Aug. 7, 2018 at 10:26 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The parents of a 16-year-old Cincinnati boy who suffocated while trapped in his minivan despite making two 911 calls for help have established a foundation in their son's memory.

"Kyle Plush Answer The Call Foundation" calls for improved 911 systems in Cincinnati and nationally.

In their first television interview since their son's April 10 death, Jill and Ron Plush explained Tuesday what motivated them to take action.

They told "NBC Nightly News" the tragedy caused them to realize all 911 systems in America must be equipped with GPS mapping technology to assist emergency responders so they have the ability to quickly pinpoint callers just like Uber drivers.

"Kyle and I were very close," his mother told Lester Holt. "We went through a lot together and its really hard to go on every day without him."

"I think he's looking down on us," Ron Plush said. "And I think he's proud of what we are doing."

The foundation in their son's memory has a website that lays out an overall mission and several goals to improve 911 service.

"Kyle would have focused on solutions to improve the 9-1-1 system. He would not have seen the barriers or made excuses for why things can't be done (resources, money, infrastructure)," the website states.

"Our family and the country, especially those who have the power to make nationwide change to the 9-1-1 system, owe it to Kyle to make sure these solutions are implemented to save lives when a loved one calls 9-1-1 in a life threatening emergency.

"We can all support a cause focused on improving our emergency response system in Cincinnati and across the United States."

Cincinnati City Council promptly took action following Kyle's death and pledged sweeping changes to its emergency response procedures.

They have approved $454,000 to increase 911 staff and to improve technology at their 911 center as part of a 12-month action plan. They also took oversight of the 911 center away from the Cincinnati Police Department and returned it to civilian control.

The city now uses a new system called Smart911 designed to make it easier for first responders to find 911 callers in an emergency.

Once people register for it, their emergency information will automatically be displayed to call takers when they dial 911.

City launches 'Smart 911' to provide critical info to first responders

City Council also has hired two firms to conduct independent investigations into the police and 911 center response to Kyle's calls for help.

The city sought independent probes after they were left with more questions and answers when Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac presented the results of the agency's investigation into his death and response by police officers and 911 call takers.

Both the Plus family and council expressed frustration with the report.

The chief told City Council back on May 14 there were failures and they had to do better, but when repeatedly pressed to detail those failures he defended the police and 911 call takers.

The police department's report concluded:

  • 911 operators didn't share critical information with police officers who responded to Kyle's call from the parking lot of Seven Hills School in Madisonville, but it was determined the operators followed proper procedures.
  • The officers acted appropriately when they did not get out of their car to search for Kyle. "I'm heartbroken. I've never seen a tragic accident occur like this in my 30 years on this job," Isaac told Council May 14. "I believe the officers had the fullest intent but they received limited information."
  • Though several technical problems were found with the 911 and police dispatch system, ultimately it was concluded the systems did not fail and did not significantly interfere with emergency response.

The results of the city's independent investigation are expected to be out in the fall.

So the result of a separate probe into Kyle's death by the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office.

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