I'm a fan of the origins of old phrases and seeing how they stand up in real life. On Thursday, the phrase "when seconds count, police are only minutes away" was put to the test in Washington - because 911 crashed for the entire state.
You read that right. If you called 911 from 11p.m. Friday until 7a.m. Saturday the phone just kept ringing.
The State says it was a problem with Centurylink, the phone service provider for the state's 911 system. Centurylink says it was a problem with an unnamed 3rd party vendor. We say we don't give a shit whose fault it was - just what the solution is because 911 should have redundant backup on top of redundant backup.
And how did dispatchers find out the system was down? Dispatchers said they noticed a sharp dropoff in call volume but were unsure until they were contacted by an alarm company informing saying their client could not call 911.
Luckily, it was only 7+ hours without 911 so I'm sure nothing bad happened in that time?
Except... there was an Everett, Washington woman who called 911 to report an intruder in her house. And called again. And again. And again. 37 total calls to 911 without an answer.
Rather than be a victim, the woman grabbed a knife and confronted the intruder who fled the scene quickly. The homeowner was able to get an officer dispatched roughly an hour after the attack.
He took a report and told the woman it was too long after the incident to try and chase down the burglar.
It's unlikely you read this site and still leave your home defense to police departments with mixed priorities and varied response times, but... here's one more reason to remember 911 isn't always there when you need it most.