How many times? How long were the response times?
I’ve called 911 three and a half times in my life. The half was when I called a local fire station (via their non-911 local number) and asked how to get to the nearest urgent care facility because my heart had been racing for a couple of hours for no reason, and they transferred me there, resulting in my second ride in an ambulance. I think it took about three minutes for them to show up. (I don’t remember my first ambulance ride, which happened in college when doing something that could charitably be described as a precursor to future MTV reality shows. The (also drunk) friends of mine who called the ambulance said they showed up pretty quickly.)
The first time I called 911 was in about 1979, when I was riding my bicycle. I heard a “WHUMP!” behind me, turned and saw someone crumpling to the ground after being hit by a car. I was about five store-fronts away from a public phone, which I got to very quickly. When I told them what happened and where I was, they said they already had an ambulance on the way. About a minute later the ambulance came racing up the street, which impressed the heck out of me, because they said they’d already gotten three calls in the time it took me to bicycle that short distance.
The second time was about three years ago, when I started feeling faint, with my heart racing (as usual). Since I also have a weird blood pressure situation, I have a blood pressure meter and took my blood pressure. It read 48/23! So I called 911, and shortly after hanging up, had a massive bout of diarrhea. As it turned out, I’d gotten food poisoning that developed so rapidly that my body had dehydrated itself very quickly in response, but it was so quick that I didn’t even suspect I had food poisoning when I was calling 911. At the hospital, as they were pumping two units of saline into my bloodstream (my first IV!), I asked about what I thought was the erroneous 48/23 reading, and they said that that wasn’t out of bounds, given the situation. Weird. I have not had an urge to eat pad thai since that time. IAC, the ambulance took about four minutes to show up after I hung up.
The third was when I heard a very loud argument from the people in the next apartment, which was unfortunately a fairly common occurrence. This time, however, there were very loud thuds and crashes, as one or both of them were throwing appliances and dishware at each other, so I thought that maybe it was getting completely out of hand. This time, the police showed up in about five minutes, which was nerve-wracking, because I couldn’t decide whether or not to just go over there and intervene. (Though sometimes I’m not so cowardly, I have an emotional issue with knock-down drag out fights between couples, which from my childhood can quickly mutate into “let’s beat the shit out of the kids” events.) IAC, the fight stopped pretty much immediately when the policeman pounded on the door. The guy moved out within the week, and the woman moved out about a month later.
When I hear horror stories of three hour waits for emergency response personnel, I get very concerned. Much of my adult life has been spent in relatively prosperous cities (Pasadena, Manhattan Beach & Redondo Beach) where they can spend a little more on infrastructure, which I assume is correlated with low response times; does anyone have experience with calling 911 and having them NOT show up within a few minutes?