#LetterToTheEditor #YourVoice #SpotlightNews
It is hard to fathom that the 911 call systems are being bypassed for people with disabilities regarding medical emergencies, physical and sexual assault crimes and even deaths, but it is true.
Upwards of one million people with disabilities who live in state run or private mental health facilities and group homes all across New York state do not have equal access to 911 first responder medical and police services and assistance.
There is no law in place currently to protect and save the lives of our most vulnerable, until the vital 911 Civil Rights Bill S4736B/A6830A is signed into law. This legislation will finally require mandated reporters to call 911 for all medical emergencies and when a crime is being committed against a person with a disability.
The 911 call systems were put in place decades ago, in the ’80s throughout New York and our country to provide everyone swift emergency assistance, usually within seven minutes or less, but the disabled have been treated unequally and denied equal access to 911 services.
In New York state the number one known documented reason for what are being called “untimely” deaths is staff in these facilities and group homes not calling 911 when there is a medical emergency. This is very important for everyone to grasp, only imagine if this was you or your child in an emergency medical situation and no one called 911?
As the writers of The Colonie Spotlight editorial said this is a matter of common sense, but it also is without a question a Civil Rights and discrimination matter.
Our state’s Constitution under Article 1 of the Bill of Rights Section 1 states, “No member of this state shall be disfranchised, or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof…” 911 emergency first responder assistance is an equal privilege that can no longer be denied our most vulnerable. In the same portion of our constitution under (equal protection of laws; discrimination in civil rights prohibited) Section 11 it states, “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws of this state or any subdivision thereof.” A person with a disability cannot have equal protection of the laws when they are a victim of a physical or sexual assault crime or a homicide; the local police, laws, the criminal justice system and courts are completely bypassed.
The 911 Civil Rights Bill was drafted by myself with the help of others to rectify this gross injustice, to save countless innocent lives, to end decades of discrimination against the disabled and ensure the prosecutions of individuals who rape, assault or take the life of a person with a disability.
I have requested of the last four governors to ensure 911 for the disabled, personally meeting with three, since my precious son, Jonathan, died 11 years ago. Jonathan died because he was denied 911 emergency services. I have requested Bethlehem town leaders to send in a letter of full support for the 911 Civil Rights Bill and as a Bethlehem resident for almost all of my life, I would ask that you would please do so as well, or please call our state leaders. Together, we can bring about great changes and save many lives.