9-1-1 is not magical.

Contrary to what people think, 9-1-1 is not a magic series of numbers that will bring peace and perfection to the world. Nor is it an instantaneous device that will protect you and save you from evils and accidents. 9-1-1 is a phone number where you call to make a notification of a crime in progress (or finished) or to request emergency medical services. You are not guaranteed the cessation of a crime or automatic lifesaving.

A great response time for a 9-1-1 city call is now hovering at an average of nine minutes. If you are lucky and happen to live near a fire station or police precinct, you can expect response times of six minutes. If you live in a city like Detroit, you are pretty much screwed since they are averaging twenty three minutes response time. If you live in the boonies, good luck for a response time within the hour and that’s it if there are no other calls.

And you may say: “Well, six to nine minutes is not bad.” It is not, unless your life depends on it. Cardiac arrest will kill within five to six minutes. Exsanguination via a major artery (femoral, brachial, radial) will send you to the Pearly Gates in about four minutes. Most violent crimes are over within two minutes.

Does all this 9-1-1 is useless? Not at all, but is not the magical panacea it has become part of the popular psyche. Neither police nor paramedics are First Responders, you are the First Responder. That makes it your responsibility alone to prepare yourself for a case where the fecal matter impacts the cooling device. Learn the basics of CPR, learn Trauma Care and even how to apply life saving bandages or tourniquets on yourself. That also means have the tools to save your live available and learn how to use them: From a gun to hemostatic agents in a decent First Aid kit (not a WalMart $5.99 plastic box with a red cross painted) and have them near you at all times.

And I almost forgot. If you live in some sort of edification, you must have at least two fire extinguishers in areas that you either spend more time and/or might be the least aware of upcoming danger. That means one in the bedroom, one in a common area such the living room near the kitchen.

And once there is some sort of semblance of control, you have evaluated the situation and determined professional help is needed, DO CALL 9-1-1. What should you tell & report to 9-1-1? Well, that is up to you to find out. Time to take responsibility for your life.

Don’t call about McNuggets though.

PS: When you call 9-1-1, the call is being recorded and it becomes evidence for the state. Just letting you know.

4 Replies to “9-1-1 is not magical.”

  1. In a word, Yes. I worked in a relatively small town where our response time was between 2 and 3 minutes (counting both fire and pd), which is uncommonly good. Still, a lot of very bad things can happen to you in even 2 minutes. I’ve been in a fight for my life that lasted just about that long so I can say from first hand experience just how long that is. An eternity. Maybe even a lifetime.


  2. Police response here is damn good… less than 5 minutes in town. How would you like to go 5 minutes in the ring with someone intent on beating the hell out of you while you waited?
    Thought so…


  3. “9 minutes” is a gamed number. Most people assume the 9 minutes is from when they dial. Many municipalities start the clock from when the call is answered. Where I live, 911 uses call forwarding on nights and weekends, due to staffing issues. ‘Unexpectedly’, most 911 calls are made on nights and weekends. Reportedly, it takes an average of 70 seconds for the call to be routed to a call center. If it is a bad night for crime, the wait time for an operator can be up to 90 minutes (and the clock for response time doesn’t start until the call is answered).

    However- Washington DC, my particular county, and presumably others start the timer from when the 911 dispatch notifies the police to respond. So you have to convince the operator that you need help. Depending on the quality of the operator, you might not get to waive the long list of questions just because your life is in imminent danger.

    Reportedly, in Baltimore and Philadelphia, the clock for how long 911 takes doesn’t start until a police unit ACCEPTS the dispatch.



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