When you call 911 and no one answers – what do you do?

Imagine how frightening it would be to frantically call emergency services because you urgently needed help but you keep getting a fast-busy signal or endless ringing because of a software glitch.

And it goes on for hours.

What about being in an ambulance, receiving what you hope is life-saving help, and the equipment fails because of a software glitch.

Or calling for an ambulance and being forced to wait because a software glitch in the engine software shut down the engine when the ambulance was half way to your home.

These things are happening with greater regularity.  It used to be that a massive 911 “outage” (where no calls can get through) was a very rare event.  Yet now, in the U.S. in just one year, it happened 4 times and affected millions of people.


What can you do?

Always call 911 first.  But as a backup, you should always keep in your wallet, in your phone’s contact list, and at your home the specific telephone numbers for the following services in your area:

  • Police Station
  • Nearest Fire Station
  • Hospital Emergency

Remember, if you’re in North America, always call 911 (elsewhere, dial the specific emergency services number in your own country), but if that doesn’t work, call the direct line to the emergency service you urgently require.

And make sure your family knows where you keep those numbers in case the kids are home alone or someone needs to call to get you some help.

A few examples

Ambulance Dispatch System Fails

June, 2017 – A software update that had taken place 18 months earlier caused the London, U.K. ambulance emergency service telephone dispatch system to fail.

London’s Computer Aided Dispatch system went down for nearly five hours on New Year’s Day, forcing dispatchers to take notes and explain the information to the emergency crews by phone.

Source:. The Register

Ambulance and Fire Truck Engine Software Recall

March, 2015 – The Canadian Federal Transport Agency recalled Ford ambulances and firetrucks due to a software problem in the engine that could “result in an engine shut down and subsequent inability to quickly restart the vehicle.”  The agency noted that this “could delay medical treatment and increase the risk of injury to the patient.”

Source:  Transport Canada Recall NoticeConsumers Affairs

Ford recalls half of the ambulances in Texas

November, 2013 – Ford recalled half of the ambulances operating in Texas due to a software sensor flaw that interferes with the engine’s performance and could prevent an engine from starting.

Source:  EMS1.com

Nationwide (U.S.) 911 Outage

March, 2017 – For 5 hours, not one AT&T wireless customer could reach emergency services.  The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is investigating.

Source:  The Washington Post

Stay safe.