Experiences calling 911?

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?

I’ve called 9-1-1 three times, all for my son who has Type 1 diabetes. All three times he was unconscious and needed intervention. And all three times I heard the sirens while still on the phone with the dispatcher.

They were fantastic. Overland Park KS paramedics and firefighters, you rock.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve called 911, but I know that for the two that stand out in my mind (once after a car flipped over going down my street, and once to report an erratic driver on the freeway), I was put on hold both times.

I’ve called three times

Once I called when I witnessed an accident on the 75 north. I have no idea what the response time was but I was glad that they had clear markers on the highway now so that I could tell them exactly where it was.

In 1994, I called them when my 3 month old had a seizure. She woke in the middle of the night and was burning up. Her temp was 105 and then she went into a seizure. Response time was within 5 minutes.

In 2000, we were on vacation at a friend’s lake house at Norris Lake, TN because a friend had a diabetic incidence. The EMTs couldn’t find the house. We learned a lot that weekend: 1) Don’t rely on 911 in the boonies; 2) If you know a diabetic, make sure you familiarize yourself with what to do in the event of an emergency. The diabetic was too far gone to be of any help.

I called 911 once that I can remember, I lived in an apartment building in Malden MA and a neighbor and her young son were stuck in an elevator. They got there very quickly, 5 minutes max.

I called once, when my father was having a heart attack. Response was about 10 minutes, which was about twice normal because there was a blizzard. A big blizzard; they’re still talking about it. I imagine if I had to call today, it would be 3 minutes.

I called once when I went into anaphylactic shock, for seemingly no reason. EMTs showed up in about ten minutes (a long time due to a high call volume. I don’t know why since we’re a pretty small suburb of Indianapolis and have several fire departments within five minutes of here.) In the meantime, a completely useless police officer from my apartment complex showed up within two minutes, but all he did was stare at me. He had no idea what to do for me, and I felt kind of bad for him. He did visit me in the hospital, though. My EMTs were awesome when they finally got there. You don’t realize how longs mere minutes take when you’re struggling to breathe. My grandfather called 911 when he had a heart attack. Help showed up in less than five minutes, but he died on the way to the hospital. That was back in 1974, so who knows if he would have made it now.

High spiking fevers resulting in a seizure in kids are called febrile seizures, and they’re much more common than most people realize. I’ve never seen it, but most of the EMTs I’ve worked and trained with have. They all say that even though they’re trained to handle it and it’s almost never life threatening, it’s scary as hell to see.

I’ve never called 911, but I had 911 called on my behalf when I was a pedestrian in a car accident. This was way back in middle school, about 13 years ago. I’ve called the non-emergency line to report teenagers fighting outside my apartment window though.

I called 911 a few years ago for a panic attack with chest pains. Better safe than sorry, I figured.

The first EMT was on scene before I hung up with the operator. He happened to live across the alley from me and walked over.


I’ve had to call it several times, always for domestic disputes. The response time has generally been under 5 minutes or less, but a couple of times stick out in memory for being a bad experience.

The first time was back in the early 90s. I couldn’t have been more than 10 at the time. My stepfather had come home drunk one Friday night, which was nothing unusual for him. He started accusing my mom of being a whore and sleeping with any man he could think of. This included my father, who she hadn’t seen in years, his brother, who was paralyzed from the neck down, and his father, who was in the hospital at the time.

Unlike usual times where he’d just go off and pass out on a bed somewhere, he hit my mom, busting her lip open. She gathered us kids up and tried to leave, but he came outside and jerked her out of the car, and took the keys. She kneed him in the balls, and we left walking while he was getting his senses back. We made it to the payphone on the other side of the trailer park, and she called the cops. They told us to stay at the phone, and someone would meet us there soon. We stood there in 30 degree weather with a foot of snow on the ground for two hours, and never saw a cop. We went home. My mom left us on the porch, while she went in and checked the trailer. My stepdad was passed out on the couch, so she brought us in the trailer and we went to her bedroom. We stayed in there all night, with the door locked and the dresser against it.

What makes this worse is that the town we were living in was tiny. It had a population of 3000, and the police station was a 5 minute walk up the road for the trailer park.

About 10 years later, my mom is married to a different man, in a different city. Things seemed good at home. He had a decent job, and was supposedly paying the bills with plenty left over. I had just gotten a job that day, and was making preparations to get my own place, seeing as how I was just a few months show of 19. We’re all sitting around the apartment, doing our own thing, when the power goes out. My mom asked her new husband if he’d paid the light bill. Unknown to us at the time, he was high, and went off on her. I don’t remember what all was said, but in the midst of it we found out he hadn’t paid the light bill in 3 months, hadn’t paid the water bill in 4, hadn’t paid the rent in 2. Instead he’d been spending the money (several hundreds worth a week) on pot.

She told him then and there she wanted a divorce. He demanded that she give him the money back he’d just given her for groceries, cleaning supplies, etc. When she wouldn’t do it, he started to choke her. I managed to get him off of her, and we went across the street to the grocery store, and used a pay phone there to call the cops.

It took an hour for the city cops to get there. They said they couldn’t do anything, since our apartment was just outside the city limits. They called in the county sheriff, and it took someone from there another hour to show up.

About 5 years after that, me and one of my sisters got into an argument. (She was 14, I was 22.) I don’t remember what about now, but she threatened to spit in my face. I warned her if she did, I’d smack her. She did, so I smacked her. (Yea, I had anger issues, that I’ve mostly gotten under control now.) She called the cops out on me. Took them 45 minutes to show up. Turns out they got lost twice. :smack:

Countless times. Let’s see…

Two or three times for an ambulance for myself. Once for an ambulance for someone else. Once because of a noise disturbance. A couple of times because of violence on the street. Several times because criminals were trying to scam the bank where I worked. Several more times when I worked at a movie theatre. That includes twice in one night. The first was to call a cop to stop rowdy and violent assholes in the auditorium. The second was because the first cop was getting beaten up. The response time for the second call? Really. Freakin’. FAST.

When I lived in Harrisburg, one night (or morning, actually) at about 3:00, there was a running car in the alley with two guys arguing over a woman. Because of the time, and the noise, I called 911 to report a domestic disturbance. The 911 operator was rather meh about it and said she’d send someone out to investigate it. About three or four minutes, still no police car, but the arguing was esculating when I heard one man say, “I can settle this right now with my gun!” I immediately called 911 and reported what I’d heard. Police cars, with lights flashing and sirens blasting almost immediately came up from both sides of the alley and I heard them call to the two guys and the woman to get their hands up, etc.

I then went back to bed.

I had to call once, because of a car wreck very close to my house. Response time was about 3 minutes. The first to arrive was the Sheriff’s department, they quickly determined that a car had gone into the 13 foot deep dry creekbed. Ambulance, wrecker, hazmat, and fire department arrived in that order, over the next 5-20 minutes.

My daughter broke her leg playing softball. Someone else made this call. Response time was about 5 minutes, but it was a very looooong 5 minutes. The EMT and the paramedic were great, though. I rode with her in the ambulance ~20 miles to the hospital. They showed genuine concern for her and were even able to get her pain medication before reaching the hospital. I still give C. (the paramedic) a hug when I see him. Heroes in my book.

The one time I called 911 was about three months ago. I was driving to work, and just before I got on the bridge, I saw what looked like an upended bicycle in the grass by the side of the road, at the edge of a steep slope. I wasn’t even sure if I’d actually seen a bike, or just some piece of random road trash. I called 911 anyway, just in case there’d been an accident and there was some poor biker down the slope where no one could see him. No idea how long it took them to send a cruiser out to check it, or if there was even anything there that needed checking.

I use to be a dispatcher for 3 years. Often response times vary on where the ambulance was at the time of the call. Our SOPs told us when to use a neighboring town, when not too, if the ambulance had cleared the hospital and what its location was to town. Often times if we broke the SOPs (even if we knew using another town’s service would be faster) we would had been written up within days. I know I often pushed the line and even was written up a few times for going against the SOPs and going with another town because I knew they would get there faster.

Learning how a public safely department is run from the inside was an eye opener, as I am sure working in any field is.

I remember one call in particular a woman called in hysterical because she had just found her father in the bathroom unconscious and not breathing. The ambulance had just cleared the hospital (20 minutes away and being a small town they only maned one ambulance) and stated they were available. SOP stated if they were at a certain school in that neighboring town, to not use any other town’s service (there are fees and cost using “mutual aid”). The girls father wasn’t breathing and she begin CPR, where she was located the next town’s ambulance was in quarters and available 5 minutes away. Given the conditions of the patient and the location of my ambulance, I called for “mutual aid” and had the closer (and neighboring town’s) ambulance respond to the house.

Once they got there they got him breathing, loaded him into the unit and had him at the hospital within the time (plus 5 or 6 minutes) my town’s ambulance would have gotten there, asseted him, etc. He survived. He had a heart attack I believe. 2 days after the call, I was written up and put given a 2 say suspension for breaking SOPs.

Whatever. The guy lived.

Wow. Good on you for doing the wrong thing.

I’ve called it twice.

First time I think I had a trojan or virus on my computer. I was on dialup back then, and I was dialing up to my ISP but the screechy sound was different than usual, so I cancelled it. A few minutes later 911 called us, saying we had called them. My parents didn’t do it, so we figured out it was the modem.

Second time I don’t like to talk about. Everything ended up okay in the end, but I’m still bitter about what led to it. It was a legitimate call though.

My boss had an apparent heart attack here in the office about a month ago. I was not the one who made the call, but the people who were doing CPR on him estimate it took over 15 min. for the ambulance to get here.

He died. (Although I don’t think ambulance response was the reason. I don’t think anything could have been done for him.)

I have called 911 myself twice (witness car accidents) and both times they arrived in less than 5 minutes.

That reminds of a tech support story from this page:

I called the UK equivalent (999) when my elderly frail father couldn’t get out of the bath. (It may sound trivial, but if you have cared for the aged, then you’ll know it was serious.)
They sent an local ambulance man round quickly and the problem was solved.

I called the local police station (different number from the National Emergency line) when a confidence trickster (the sort that talk their way into your home, distract you and steal) appeared on my doorstep. He was working the street looking ofr vulnerable pensioners.
They arrested him 5 doors down! :cool: