How long does it take for a cell phone to connect?

A thought exercise for the unarmed: how long does it take for a phone to connect your 911 call? I’ve seen times ranging from about three seconds to nearly fifteen. Let’s assume three seconds and being able to hit speed dial — much harder on a smart phone than on an older flip phone for lack of tactile reference — before the attacker starts on you. Can a motivated thug with a gun, knife, stick or just strong hand and hard-soled shoes on his feet shoot, stab, beat, strangle or kick you into incapacity within those three seconds?

Violence can happen very quickly. Drawing a weapon is quicker than calling for help, much less waiting for the help to arrive, find you and stop the attack. The most obvious alternative is flight, but that’s only a viable option if you are not the specific target but just at the wrong place at the wrong time. In that case, huddling in place makes it more likely that you would see the threat — and have a chance to shoot it — before it sees you.

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4 Responses to How long does it take for a cell phone to connect?

  1. RandyGC says:

    I would only add that once you have weapon ready and have a position of at least concealment, if not cover, make that 911 call ASAP. Even if you can’t talk, make the call. At the very least it will let them know something is going on an, depending on the area, an approximate location.

    Personally, I’m all about letting the fire support (I’d prefer AC-130 or 155, but SWAT will do) handle the problem while being prepared to keep my position from being over run.

  2. Firehand says:

    I did think of a slight change to the saying:
    ‘…cops are just minutes away.
    Assuming you had time to call them.’

  3. Paul Koning says:

    I’ve had to wait significantly longer than 15 seconds at times, merely to start hearing the ringing. Then after that I’d have to wait for the other party to answer.
    That also assumes you can get through at all. Phone networks may be overloaded, and cell phone networks are probably more prone to that issue than landlines.

  4. Frank Karl says:

    Even if you were hard wired to the police, you still have to deal with response time. More than one police officer has described himself to me as a historian. “We show up, take statements, take pictures, collect evidence and then write up the story…”

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