"It wasn't that long ago that no one had mobile phones and emergency responding still seemed to work."
As others have pointed out, when no one had mobile phones there were other ways to get in touch with emergency responders - every store, restaurant, gas station, and bar had a pay phone and they were on half the street corners in any decent-sized town, and calls to 911 (or the operator, before 911) were free.
How many operational payphones have you seen in the past week? You could probably count them on one hand - if you've seen any.
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