October 19, 2014, Toronto, Canada - In this SAFE International self defense blog I would like to discuss the reality of calling 911. In 1968, 9-1-1 became the national emergency number for the United States. It has become a tool that has saved countless lives in several countries. In the area of self defense, it also has great value, BUT in my opinion can be a detriment if one is distracted by trying to contact 911 and disregarding the threat in front of them. I teach in all our SAFE seminars that a cell phone is a tool that can help one stay safe, but if one is distracted by their cell phone through talking and not paying attention to their environment, or particularly if they are texting, they are often making themselves a more attractive target.
I have had many people tell me they could not remember the number 911 in a moment of potential violence. Of course you remember when you are calm, but difficult for many when in the high stress scenario of potential violence. I have had a woman tell me during an attack that she was screaming, "What's the number for 911!" Most people laugh at this, but it is a very possible reality due to the reality of the moment and your mindset not being clear.
The majority of people tell me if they are attacked while chatting with their friend, they think they will just give their friend the location of the attack, their friend will call the police, and the police will be there almost instantly. Well, the reality is that if one is attacked while talking, the attacker is not likely going to let you continue the call. Imagine they are choking you and you are still chatting with your friend saying, "I am being attacked, it is quite uncomfortable, I think I am losing air, but please inform the police that my location is........!", lol, NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!! The phone is likely on the ground and you are in a fight for your life. Now, many tell me they will contact 911 if being attacked. The reality is that even if you have some warning, if the threat is already in front of you, the act of pressing 911 is now a fine motor skill with the adrenaline dump you will experience. with that threat advancing towards you. Can it be done? Possibly, but most people don't have the dexterity to swipe this, unlock this, then get to press 911. Even when one has it on speed dial, if the phone is not at the ready, your chances of pressing that button successfully are limited. Also, is your phone in your pocket or purse when you need to access it? It is my opinion that one might be better to focus on the threat than get distracted by trying to dial 911 since the distraction might prevent you from preparing to verbally deescalate, or get prepared physically to defend yourself. As always, run if possible, but if escaping is not possible, you may be better to prepare yourself than try to dial 911. Now, the moment you have escaped, call 911 as soon as possible.