Detroit

In Detroit, 911 Is a Joke

Nobody's coming to save you

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DETROIT — A question unimaginable in most major American cities is utterly commonplace in this one: If you suddenly found yourself gravely ill, injured or even shot, would you call 911?

Many people here say the answer is no. Some laugh at the odds of an ambulance appearing promptly, if ever. In Detroit, people map out alternative plans instead, enlisting a relative or a friend.

As officials negotiate urgently with creditors and unions in a last-ditch effort to spare Detroit from plunging into the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation's history, residents say the city has worse problems than its estimated $18 billion debt.