Just Use Your Phone and Call 911

There’s only one problem with that.  It doesn’t always work.

For two days, residents in the City of Manassas, Manassas Park, Vienna and Fairfax and Prince William counties were told to call alternate phone numbers, send emails or drive to their nearest police or fire station if they had an emergency.

Tell me, where does one get the alternate numbers when one is knee-deep in to crap.  This is why you can’t depend on 911, you cannot depend on your cell phone.  Heck with yesterdays incident if I had wanted to I could have started self extraction.  It would have taken considerably longer and would have been much more difficult, it would have been possible.  If it had been the other truck I would have self extracted, as doing it with a winch makes life considerably easier.

911 though is not a sure thing in the even of an emergency.  Even when it is working there are oddities that can go wrong.  For instance Cellular skip does happen and you can actually end up calling into a 911 center well beyond your current location.  This is one of the reasons they ask for your location first and foremost.  If you’re in Kansas and you got into Whitman County Washington’s dispatch, they’re not going to be able to help you much.  As a FYI, yes that has happened.

Since 911 has problems why use it at all?  Well because when it does work, it’s an effective way to call in the cavalry.  If it wasn’t for 911, I would have to keep track of all the different numbers for the different services myself.  Not an easy task, especially while traveling.  My point here though is to not plan on it being your sole solution to a problem.  Don’t plan on 911 working correctly when you actually need it because Murphy is bound to show himself.  By all means call for the cavalry but realize it may fail, it may take longer than expected, and most importantly it is going to take time for the cavalry to arrive.  Assess your situation, make sure things are under control and then call for the cavalry.

You are on your own and you may end up being on your own for longer than expected.  Know that you’re call for the cavalry may not exactly work out as planned, your methods may not work, and you may be on your own for longer than you thought.  Remember they have no duty to respond.

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2 Responses to Just Use Your Phone and Call 911

  1. Old_NFO says:

    And one more point to consider… All those folks with “bundles” that include phone service over the cable FAILED when the power went out. They had NO way to contact anybody without physically going somewhere (assuming they could even leave their neighborhood)…

  2. Jake says:

    For instance Cellular skip does happen and you can actually end up calling into a 911 center well beyond your current location.

    Being in a building can mess it up, too. That happened at Virginia Tech on April 16 – the first caller got routed to the town’s dispatch center rather than the university’s. To make things worse, while the caller was in Norris Hall, there is a Norris Run Road in the county, which added to the dispatcher’s initial confusion and delayed the police response.

    All those folks with “bundles” that include phone service over the cable FAILED when the power went out.

    Heck, most phones on the regular lines these days don’t work without wall power. All the electronics, cordless, answering machines, caller ID, and other stuff built in to most modern phones requires more power to operate than the phone lines are designed to provide.