911 Staffing Problems Means It Takes Longer to Answer Your Call

This time the problem is in Colorado. When Seconds Count, 911 Calls Are Taking Minutes to Answer in Colorado Springs.

In an emergency, [Renee Henshaw, the city’s public safety communications manager] said she understands that 20 seconds, let alone a minute or two, can feel like an eternity, but she argues that the 911 center is doing the best it can with its limited staff. Despite hiring year-round, the center is down eight call-takers and eight dispatchers, she said.

Why? Because taking 911 calls is a tough business. (As one character said on a TV show, the people calling 911 are having the worst day of their life.)

To be fair, 911 operator is a tough sell. Henshaw is upfront about the list of cons, which read like a bad job description — constant stress, shift work, secondhand trauma, multitasking, and a certain aptitude for technology.

Employees have previously described taking stressful calls relating to suicide, unresponsive children, fatal accidents and even mass shootings. In 2016, Brianna Ragsdale recounted getting the call as admitted Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear was gunning people down in the parking lot.

And while I agree that such a job is not for everyone, better pay might help retention.

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Cops Ignore Assault Victim Until After She Calls News Station

She literally waited for hours. There were several calls to 911, some indicating that the guy who attacked her was still hanging around. Call for Action Investigation: Woman waits hours for police after being assaulted.

She was able to escape the assault and get back inside (a local library) with the help of some good Samaritans. She needed medical attention but the ambulance crew wouldn’t come in because the scene had not been cleared by police, and the suspect was still on the property. She waited 4 hours, eventually called the news station. They got there before the cops did. (In fact the cops only showed up after News crew call them.)

According to the 911 call logs 11 News requested from police, two calls came in to 911 just before noon that day, and then the calls continued over the next four hours.
Caller 1: “We’ve got an assault outside the building.”
Caller 2: “We’ve had a woman that’s been assaulted, and…”
Caller 3: “And he attacked her and was physically abusing her and dragging her across the front of the library.”
Rhonda was able to get away from the man with the help of those good Samaritans, but she says he stayed in the parking lot, threatening her.
“Yeah he was just wandering around like waiting for her to be alone like so he can come beat her again.” Max, the young witness said to our crew.

So cops sat around, didn’t respond to an assault. Didn’t respond to a person who needed medical attention (she will be OK), and basically only got off their asses when they realized that they had a PR disaster in the making. Yeah, that is the system I want to bet my life on.

And don’t hold your breath on whether the cops will ever explain this. It is clear, that they want the issue to just GO AWAY. (“Nothing to see here! Move along!”)

After weeks of going back and forth, police sat down with us, but when asked about the case, a police spokesperson said he hadn’t gone over the dispatch tapes yet and therefore could not discuss the case in specifics. Colorado Springs Police Department Spokesman Lt. Howard Black: “I haven’t gone through and listened, and I’m happy to do that if we’re going to drill down to that level, I’m happy to go through and listen and read through each one.”

11 News agreed to give police more time to review the calls, but at the writing of this article, two weeks have passed and our repeated requests for a follow up interview have gone unanswered.

You can call 911 and they might send you help. Or you can call 911 and they might completely ignore you.

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.

Clerk Fired for Daring Self-defense

I know what business I would be avoiding (if I lived in Colorado Springs). Store clerk fired for defending himself with pistol – KRDO

Two guys come into a late-night gas station and point a gun a the clerk. He asks them not to. When the point the gun at his head he steps behind the counter and draws his own weapon. He does not shoot, and gets shot in the arm, but the bad guys leave. Now he is out of a job.

Two weeks later, Satterthwaite received a call from his manager saying he was fired for bringing a gun to work. Also, because of the shooting, the store says they are getting rid of the overnight shift and no longer needed him. He was shocked that he was fired for simply trying to defend himself.

“I accept the risks I understand working overnight at a gas station is dangerous,” says Satterthwaite. “What I don’t accept is a company that won’t take care of those dangers for their employees and instead fires me for protecting myself.”

That store is Wester Convenience store on Fillmore street in Colorado Springs.

There were other robberies in the area, including at least one where the clerk ended up in the hospital. I suppose the company in question would rather this guy had been shot in the head than had defended himself.

As for the “Just cooperate to be safe” misdirect, see the link Cooperate with Criminals.

What if you called 911 and waited an hour?

A lot of bad things can happen in an hour, and in this case it was a carjacking. CSPD response times going up as number of officers going down

So they burglarized a house and were walking down the street carrying guns. 911 was informed of this. But even so, it was long time before cops showed up – long enough for them to carjack someone and escape from the area.

Galer checked the call times. Police tell her the first 911 call came in at 5:33 p.m. It wasn’t until one hour and three minutes later — at 6:36 p.m. — the first two units responded.

Average response time in Colorado Springs is 12 minutes, which can still be a very long time. But an hour can be forever if something bad is happening.

I’m not sure that bystanders could have done anything in this situation, but the point is if your only plan to deal with a violent encounter is to call 911 (assuming you can call BEFORE bad things happen) then you might need to refine your plans somewhat.