Picture this. You’re out and about with the family and you witness a crime in progress or perhaps a heinous collision. You’re in your hometown. You pick up your cell and dial 911. You assume it will go to your local jurisdiction, right?
Cue cheesy game show buzzer.
You are incorrect. But, thanks for playing.
Let’s make the scenario a little more petrifying shall we? You’re babysitting your friend’s kid, grandchild, niece, and/or nephew. He/she got into the cleaning supplies and may have ingested something toxic. You pick up your cell phone and dial 911 expecting help to arrive forthwith.
Or, what if you interrupt a burglary and your husband is now wrestling with the felon? You dial 911 from the cell and anticipate the ear blasting, but comforting, sound of sirens. Hope you’re patient…
More than likely, you’re 911 call has been routed to CHP (at least in California…). So what, you say? So, this. More than likely, when you dial 911, you’re going to be frantic. It’s the 911 operator’s job to calmly ask you some questions. Chief amongst them would be your location. Once they get that info out of you and they figure out you’re not in their jurisdiction, they have to transfer the call to the appropriate agency. You’d think that’d be quick. It ain’t as quick as you’d like, believe me.
Once the appropriate agency is on the line, they’re going to have to get a lot of the same information you’ve already provided to the original agency. Then, the appropriate agency will dispatch the call to the officer(s) on the street. If you’re lucky, you live across from a Starbucks where all the cops hang out. In reality, they’re probably on the other side of town. Add response time from ten miles away.
We’re talking about, from first 911 dial to a copper at your doorstep, anywhere from eight to fifteen minutes (depending on the priority of the call, staffing levels, location, etc).
MC, what the hell is your point?
Glad you asked. Don’t be so bloody shy next time. My point is each of you should take the time to find out what the non-emergency police/fire/ems phone number is and program it into your cell phone. When you need us, the last thing you want to do is look around for a phone book or call 411. Why non-emergency? Because it goes to the same dispatch center and they’re well trained to realize the screaming victim on the other end of the phone may actually have an emergency.
Consider yourselves educated. Carry on…