Monday, November 20, 2006

Bet my life on 911 - not a chance

State Senator questions 911 response time after breaking up burglary attempt
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 911 dispatcher sent the first call on to the Sheriff's office. But they did nothing, even though there was a deputy parked across the street.

A lot of bad things can happen in 15 minutes. Bad things can happen in 15 seconds for that matter if you are being assaulted.

One of the reasons gun enthusiasts practice the rules of safe gun handling (never point a gun at something or someone you aren't willing to shoot, keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, etc.) is that we want behavior to ensure safety and not focus reliance on a physical device. In this case we are not trusting the gun's safety. Machines fail and the safety on any gun is just another machine.

911 is in many respects a machine - it certainly relies for standard operations on any number of machines, such as computers and phone systems. What happens when a machine fails?

Faulty telephone line disrupts Montgomery County 911 system : The Morning Call Online For 90 minutes one day recently, the entire county (in PA) was without 911 coverage.
Montgomery County's 911 system was disrupted by telephone problems for more than 90 minutes Friday morning, county officials said.

Staff at the 911 center noticed problems with incoming calls at 9:47 a.m. The county activated its backup 911 center in Conshohocken a short time later, but there were problems there too.
The main system doesn't work. The backup system also doesn't work. A lot of bad things can happen in 90 minutes if you are threatened with violence (or having a heart attack, or been in a car crash, etc.)

In the past I have written about people who were prevented - by their attacker - from calling 911. I have written about people who were ignored by 911. There have been other cases where the 911 system did not respond to the 911 call, (a busy signal, etc.) or where the delay in getting someone to the scene proved to be a problem.

Calling 911 is generally a really wonderful thing. They can send help in a medical emergency, the fire department in case of a fire or the police in case of a violent attack. Yet we encourage people to learn CPR because time matters in an emergency. We encourage people to keep fire extinguishers in their kitchens because fast action can prevent a catastrophe. Hunter 37 Cutter(I am required - by law - to have a certain number of fire extinguishers on my boat. I have more the the minimum number) So why is it that the same people who are encouraging the learning of CPR are not encouraging the learning of armed self-defense. In the event of a violent attack, time matters. The police are minutes away, even if you are able to call 911 before you are attacked. 911 is not a perfect system. (Being a government operation most of the components - phones, computers, etc. were probably provided by the low-bidder.) I will not bet my life on something that error-prone.

Having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen does not guarantee that a grease fire won't burn down your home. Wearing your seatbelt while driving is no guarantee that you won't be killed in a car crash. Having a concealed weapon does not guarantee that you won't be killed or injured as a result of crime. There are no guarantees in this life. We do things as responsible adults to reduce our exposure to risk. Learning to properly defend yourself is just one of the things people should learn. [hat tip to Keep And Bear Arms, and in the interest of honesty I must say that the photo is not one of my boat; it is a photo from the marketing literature from when my boat was new.]

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