How to improve response time

It took 20 minutes for Austin Police to respond to a deadly stabbing on January 3, 2020.

20 minutes.

Austin police said they received a call reporting a man with a large rock was verbally threatening people at Bennu Coffee on Congress around 7:50 a.m. When an officer arrived, about twenty minutes later, the suspect was being held down by customers inside.

Full story.

Last week I wrote about how taking (immediate) action saves lives. In that, I noted how the latest data I’m aware of put APD’s average response time at 8 minutes.


Which means your situation might take longer.

Like 12 minutes longer…

“According to Emergency Communications Standard Operating Procedures for Priority 2 calls, dispatchers should send the two closest available units within five minutes of the call entering the queue. This did not occur and is part of the internal review,” police said in a statement.

I’m not going to get too hard on APD, dispatch, 911, whomever. Everyone involved is human, and that means mistakes can happen. It means that sometimes things just won’t go ideally.

Twenty minutes.

Consider a recent Facebook post by the Austin Police Association wrote:

This comes at a time when the department has 180 vacancies and the city council is considering canceling a cadet class of 80 officers in June.

which is only going to serve to increase response times…

And when you consider the stabbing was only prevented from getting worse because people in the immediate vicinity took swift decisive action…

Truly, the only way you’ll see response times go down is to learn how to become a first responder.

(and ensure politicians don’t prevent or prohibit us from doing so).

4 thoughts on “How to improve response time

  1. I follow other people who advocate exactly the opposite. Namely, your first responsibility is to your family and to yourself.

    Meaning, you don’t take on a job you’re not paid to do because you’re risking your future and possibly that of your family if you get hurt. But, it gets into a gray area when you’re on site and LEOs are minutes away.

    I can see the argument on both sides (and my first instinct would be to intervene) but I’m curious if you’ve considered the consequences of intervening and failing (getting stabbed or shot or otherwise seriously hurt). Even as part of a group, someone can get seriously hurt.

    Decisions, of course, are situational. Some interventions might be counter-indicated (I’m a small guy and older – no matter how much I train, a bigger, faster, stronger guy would make short work of me and even more so if they have weapons) while other situations might impel someone to action (a child in danger). What of the less clear-cut situations? Where does the consideration of one’s safety come in?

    I ask because more and more I would opt to avoid intervention, especially since I’m usually out and about with my wife.

    • Actually, I am VERY much on that side of it all.

      I have zero desire to be a hero, to get involved in other people’s business (esp. when I don’t know the whole story), etc.. even when it comes to mundane day-to-day things (such is my libertarian tendencies).

      So we are on the same page.

      There’s more to being a first responder than “handling violence”. For example, if someone collapsed due to a heart attack – to be able to administer CPR right then and there is better than waiting for EMS to arrive (I think of my friend, Paul Martin, who a couple years ago Thanksgiving his mother collapsed and he and his father did CPR for 11 minutes before EMS arrived – she wouldn’t be alive today if not for his efforts. And Texas 86(R) HB 1078 is law now directly because of Paul and his efforts). Or I remember a number of years ago, I came upon a motorcycle accident that must have happened just seconds prior to my arrival at the intersection. There were a number of people wandering around, on their phones to 911, and you could tell they wanted to help but had zero idea how to. Being able to start administering first aid to help stem the dude’s head wound was helpful (and also to keep him on the ground because he wanted to get up and walk around – not ideal in the situation).

      And of course, if it’s ME being attacked, I’d rather have the ability to respond than to hope and pray someone eventually arrives to save me.

      So, it’s not necessarily “defense of a third party” here, tho of course that CAN be a scenario. And in that scenario, all the points you raise are right and valid that folks should consider well in advance and know their answer — because trying to make that decision on the spot is rough. Especially your point about context: you being smaller and older, out with the wife, etc. you will likely have a different “answer” here than a younger, 6’4″ 250# muscle-bound, black belt BJJ, single no kids, etc. type of person. Everyone’s got to consider their situation – and hopefully consider it before they need to USE it.

      Good stuff!

    • Thanks for the clarification.

      I only commented because the post seems to indicate otherwise (especially the closing statement). I appreciate you spoke about medical response in the previous post, but this post started and ended with a stabbing event and seemed to imply we should become first responders in those events as well.

      To be clear, pepper spray, situational awareness, and keeping fit are all in the cards. I’m in the process of getting an Illinois CCW (I recenly moved so my current license isn’t valid here) and both my wife and I plan on refresher courses for CPR. All that is meant for (hopefully) keeping ourselves from harm. But, other than with CPR, I’ve no desire or plans to intercede in developing situations.

      • That’s fair. I can see how it would come across that way.

        For someone to “first respond” to an event like this is certainly an individual decision. Some people are high responders, others are not. Some people want to get involved, others do not. And for many of us, “it depends”.

        Pepper spray is HUGE, and so is keeping fit – not enough people stress the importance of these things (people talk “situational awareness” a lot).

        All that sounds great to me, and like you’ve given “how I will respond to stuff” a fair bit of thought, which is great! Good on you for all of this. 🙂

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