What About When You Don’t Have Cell Coverage?

If you ever venture out of your urban enclave, you might come to a place where you don’t have cellphone service. Any service. Mother, son-in-law killed in fiery crash in Jasper National Park.

“We were trying to give all our efforts to save the injured and control the fire,” he explained. “The challenging part was there was no cell phone coverage. People were shouting to call 911.”

Because that is what they are trained to do. When that doesn’t work, they are at a complete loss.

Now I’m not saying that you need to become a HAM radio operator and install a 2-meter radio in your vehicle, or go the Citizens’ Band route either. But screaming at people who have no cellphone service that they should call 911 is not helping anyone.

And yes, Virginia, there exist places without cellphone service, not even 3G.


911 Response Time in Milwaukee

30 minutes is a long time to wait. Special Report: MPD slow to respond to violent crime calls, police data shows.

If you are the victim of an armed robbery in Milwaukee and call the police for help, you can expect to wait nearly half an hour for officers to arrive, according to Milwaukee Police Department dispatch data analyzed by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.

Now if there is an incident in progress, the times are better. Somewhat better.

Police responded much more quickly to shootings (6 minutes), fights (12 minutes), and reports of subjects with a gun (13 minutes) in 2017.

These response times are not great, but they are also not completely horrible.

A lot of truly bad things can happen in 13 minutes, and even 6 minutes can seem like an eternity.

So after you call 911, what are you going to do for those 13 minutes?

Never Underestimate The Power of Stupid

What if you call 911 and they are busy dealing with assholes of the world? Abusive 911 calls create public safety ‘epidemic’ in Indianapolis .

If this was Florida, it just might qualify as Peak Florida.

Don’t call 911 for stupid shit.

  • A motorist who called 911 to say she was lost on Fall Creek Road and needed directions to Anderson
  • A man who dialed 911 to ask if the dispatcher could connect him with a phone in Germany
  • A young mother who called 911 seeking assistance for a large spider on the ceiling of her apartment
  • A man who called 911 to see if a dispatcher was willing to “get together” with him
  • A woman who called 911 to report a cat that had climbed into a tree

“But they called the fire department for a cat up a tree in my favorite TV show.” Or something.

“It’s become a life or death issue and I fear someone is going to die,” said Michael Hubbs, who runs the county’s emergency dispatch center on the east side of Indianapolis. “It’s an epidemic.”

Calling 911 is a fine thing to do, IN AN EMERGENCY. They can send all kinds of help. Paramedics, Firemen, Police. But they can’t do that if someone is hoping to “get together” with the operator, and is taking up their time.

Have you ever seen a cat’s skeleton stuck up a tree? Don’t call 911 for stupid shit.

Data Driven Government When The Data Is Wrong

Or why you may not get the response you are hoping for when you call 911. Data-Based Decisionmaking Works Great, Til Someone Cheats.

OK, for the purposes of this blog, I am interested in the impacts “cheating” or fudging the definition of the numbers around 911 response time. (What those of us in the data management know as metadata.) Personally I think some of the other cheats are just to be expected.

A guy who taught .gov employees discovers that the scores of the those with the lowest scores are eliminated from the city reporting. (Makes the average score go up, and the city workers look smarter/better trained than they actually are.) Or the case in Atlanta where teachers and administrators changed the grades of students on standardized tests to make them look better and save the teachers’ jobs. But the best one is…

A few years back, the Ohio auditor told us this story: “If there’s an oil spill and fish die, you send a biologist out to count dead critters. They get a [certain] amount for each dead critter [they find], and they send you the bill. I’m not saying anyone is cheating, but how can you possibly consider those numbers reliable?”

I’m sure those numbers are 100% authentic!

On the subject of 911, they often screw with the definition of “how long does it take.”

One of the areas in which measurements frequently leave misleading impressions is emergency response time. David Ammons, professor of public administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tells us that when local governments report the average emergency response time, citizens and members of the city council tend to think that it is a measure of the time from when a citizen calls with a 911 emergency until the emergency unit rolls up onto the scene.

But in fact, the stopwatch may start when emergency units are dispatched, not when the calls come in. That means that citizens and council members may believe the emergency response time in their city is around six minutes when it may actually be eight minutes once the time between calls and dispatch is figured in.

Cooking the books is a time-honored tradition among thieves, and, it would seem, government employees.

Colorado Springs, Calling 911, and Statistics.

Benjamin Disraeli said, “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.” Colorado Springs police getting better at responding to emergencies — depending on how you calculate the times.

A new way of calculating response times shows that at least half of the time, Colorado Springs police are arriving at life-threatening calls within 9 minutes and 22 seconds, about 2½ minutes faster than their reported average.

And no matter how you slice it, a lot of really bad things can happen in 9 and a half minutes. That’s the median. Half the people will wait longer than that. Since the average is longer than the 9 minutes and 22 seconds quoted here, some of them could wait a good long time.

Calling 911 is a fine thing to do. It can send fire, or medical personnel, or police to the scene of your emergency. But they won’t arrive instantly – even assuming you can call them before bad things happen. You might want to produce a plan for how you are going to spend that 9 minutes.

Benjamin Disraeli was the first Jewish PM of Great Britain (In office from February 1874 until April 1880.) He is somewhat quotable.

Don’t Have a Police Emergency During Shift-change

They knew someone was in the house because the guy who called 911 had reviewed the live feed from his security cameras. Man claims poor police response time by RPD during burglary caught on security camera.

It still took them 40 minutes to respond to a crime-in-progress.

Greenblatt claims that police took 40 minutes from the original 911 call to arrive on scene, with the attending officer claiming the delay was the result of a shift change.

Now maybe a different crime would have resulted in better response, but their excuse doesn’t fill me with confidence that this is the case.

Calling 911 is a fine thing to do. They can send police or the fire department or emergency medical personnel. Just don’t have your emergency around shift-change. 40 minutes is a very, very long time to wait when bad things are happening.

Broward County Can’t Handle 911 Calls From Cellphones (and other technical issues)

Which in 2018 is more than stupid. (This is all by way of an excuse for Parkland.) Radio Issues, 911 Call Center Delays Impacted Parkland Shooting Response.

This story is about Parkland, and how the calls to 911 from cellphones were not routed to the correct department. They have a bullshit answer about where they were routed and why, but if Broward County is responsible for security at Parkland, you have to wonder if anyone ever tested the 911 system around there, or if no on bothered. (Coral Springs wanted “hometown feel” in its 911 operations. Right.)

Also the radio system used by Broward County couldn’t handle the radio traffic.

The current radio system is more than 20 years old. The new one, purchased in 2017 following the fatal shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, will provide a 300 percent increase in bandwidth and accept scores more inbound radio requests.

The new system will also be limited to “first responders” (law enforcement and fire, if I read this correctly) and not share bandwidth with public-service (like the water department).

On some level though, all this is a smoke screen. The cellphone argument might have held sway in the 1990s, but I’m not convinced that call forwarding is impossible. Instead, they relayed information from the caller through two 911 operators to the cops. The radio excuse (and it is an excuse) is even more insane. Why are the water department (or whoever is “non-public-safety”) and the cops on the same radio system? In a word, budget. And foresight. The bean counters never bothered (or weren’t smart enough) to ask “What could happen?” But in the end, the cops didn’t enter the building – whatever 911 was doing, or the delays in radio transmission.