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When 911 Goes Dark

The death of a 6-month-old baby last month in Dallas, TX, is another tragic reminder that there are times when 911 goes dark. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of that infant, an innocent victim caught in modern-day, cell-phone perfect storm.

When the babysitter got through to 911, the call was on hold for 31 minutes. Undoubtedly, the experts will debate if the extra time it took the mother to return from a funeral and drive the infant to the emergency room made the fatal difference. Finger-pointing won’t bring the child back, though.

Snafu Affected 1.2 Million

I’ll spare you the technical details and simply point you to the article on the incident. There’s no mention of other calls stalled during that time. I’m confident in a city of more than 1.2 million there were grandparents who suffered a stroke, car accidents, robberies, assaults, broken bones, muggings and home invasions. Hopefully the victims of a criminal act had a means of escape or owned a gun and had some training.

The 911 system started taking shape sometime in 1967. Since then it has saved thousands of lives and, unfortunately, lulled two—working on three—generations into a false sense of security. Don’t get me wrong. I could write a book about the number of times the awesome system saved my mother after her stroke.

When 911 Goes Dark

No emergency dispatch system is perfect, though. That’s why we should all be prepared to take the necessary steps to ensure our safety and that of our loved ones until help arrives. Own a first-aid kit and learn how to use it. It probably wouldn’t have helped in Dallas, but it couldn’t have hurt, either.  Even knowing what not to do, in many cases, can be powerful medicine.

Stall forced criminal entry (because law enforcement response can’t always be fast) by installing a solid door on your safe room. Have a plan, and make sure everyone in the family has it memorized. If you have a carry permit, CARRY. The unthinkable never arrives when it’s convenient.

Get training. Refresh often and remind loved ones to do the same. What happened in Dallas is a tragic accident. Unfortunately, some criminals and terrorists eye technological flaws as something to exploit. Add a natural disaster or two and it’s obvious the next catastrophe is coming. Unless you’re prepared, when 911 goes dark, a bad situation can only become worse. 

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