Monday, November 20, 2006

911 calls

I see this post over at TFS Magnum.
It took 15 minutes and two phone calls to 911 to get deputies to respond to an emergency call made by State Sen. Tim Burchett as he broke up a burglary attempt at gunpoint. Now he questions why it took so long for deputies to arrive.
The article, from WATE6, a Knoxville station, says that there was a deputy parked across the street when he made the call.

Maybe so. It doesn't say if the deputy was working a call at the time, or if that particular deputy was ever told of the 911 call.

Here's the way the 911 system works, at least around here. A citizen calls 911. The 911 dispatcher decides what agency should respond and calls that agency. The agency dispatches the nearest free unit to the address in question. All this takes time. When I was on the line, sometimes I might be fifteen miles or so from the address the dispatcher gave me. It takes time to drive that distance. If the closest deputy is busy with another call, then someone has to come from farther away.

No law enforcement officer wants to delay response to a 911 call. We want to get there as quickly as possible. However, rolling Code 3 with lights and sirens, we still can't be there instantly. Travel takes time.

Luckily, this wasn't a life-threatening call. It was a burglary that the Senator foiled. He even fed the critters cookies while waiting for police to arrive.

There are broader lessons here, lessons about what YOU would do when confronted by an intruder and the police are still five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes away. We're coming, but it takes a few minutes to get there. What are YOU going to do to take care of your own safety?

Hat tip to Say Uncle.

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