The national average response time to 911 calls is about between 10 and 19 minutes, depending on what source of data you believe.
Every 911 call isn’t treated the same though. Calls are generally classified as high or low priority calls when they come in. For example, a call about shots being fired will take priority over someone coming home to a robbed house where no one is in immediate danger.
Getting up-to-date data is impossible because there is no centralized public clearinghouse for this information. The best data I could find comes mostly from local network television affiliates and newspapers doing investigations in their hometowns.
Apples-to-apples comparisons among cities can be tricky because definitions, categorizations, etc. can be different, but the information below will give you an idea of how quickly first responders responded to 911 calls in a few major American cities. I reference the websites I gathered this information from at the end of this post.
STATES WITH THE SHORTEST AVERAGE RESPONSE TIMES (MINUTES:SECONDS)
- Illinois: 6:00
- California: 6:52
- Rhode Island: 7:03
- Connecticut: 7:54
- Massachusetts: 8:33
STATES WITH THE LONGEST AVERAGE RESPONSE TIMES (MINUTES:SECONDS)
- Wyoming: 35:44
- Vermont: 22:56
- Montana: 22:34
- North Dakota: 21:30
- Kansas: 21:22
On a side note, 2014 Department of Homeland Security research reveals that the average school shooting lasts 12.5 minutes, while the average response time is around 18 minutes. Hopefully, this has improved drastically in the past few years.
- The emergency number 9-1-1 was originally developed by AT&T as a public service to improve emergency communications.
- The phone used to answer the first 9-1-1 call is now in a museum in Haleyville, Alabama.
- The world’s first emergency phone number (999) was introduced to the United Kingdom on June 30, 1937.
- Economist.com – In New Orleans, call 911 and wait for an hour
- AutoInsuranceCenter – Emergency Response Times Across the U.S.
- WBEZ.com – Chicago Police Response Time is Down in 2012
- NBCLosAngeles.com – LAPD Emergency Response Times Not Affected by Budget Cuts
- IJR.com – Here’s How Long on Average It Takes for Police to Respond to a 911 Call
- CreditDonkey.com – Study: Average Police Response Time
- USAToday.com – With 911 dispatchers in short supply, average response time is slower
- Sherrifs.org – EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY TO DECREASE LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE TIME
- MercuryNews.com – 50 years of calling 911: How many still call and how fast (or not) is the response time