Originally Posted by Dagobahn Eagle
But then again, if an area jams cell phones, then what the Heck is the on-call doctor doing there in the first place?
If you were, say, a volunteer search&rescue worker, would you spend your shifts spelunking in a deep cave when you knew people could suddenly need you at any moment?
Doctors actually do things besides read medical journals and stay at home on their days off.
For the cave thing--if someone's on call, they have to be in a position where they can get to the fire station/hospital/wherever within a specified period of time (varies by profession), and they are required to be accessible. Obviously if I were on call, I couldn't go caving because the cell wouldn't work and I probably couldn't get back out of the cave in a decent amount of time.
However, I could go to movies, theaters, church, etc. as long as it was close enough and my cell worked. I don't mind having it on silent and leaving the theater to go talk in the lobby.
If a lot of places jam cells/pagers, then those would be off-limits, and if I were on call, it wouldn't leave me a whole lot of fun things to do, especially in the middle of winter in the (US) Great White North.
For the emergency thing--unless there was some kind of universal location for a universal style emergency call button that everyone was familiar with, it wouldn't be too useful.
People won't know where to look when there's not an emergency, much less when there is one, and it's incredibly difficult for them to think clearly in serious situations. It took me several years to get used to working through the adrenaline wave that comes with an emergency. Fortunately, in my field we almost never have something life-threatening come up, so it's rarely an issue.
Most people are so stunned in an emergency that they usually just stand there looking at the scene. If I had to tell them to go look around the room for the emergency button, they probably wouldn't be able to find it simply because of shock. I'm not trying to be mean about that--if I didn't have the training, I'd have a tough time functioning, too, and it's just the reality. If the injury or illness is serious (say, heart attack), we'd be losing precious seconds looking around for that emergency switch and figuring out how it worked--break the glass? lift a cover? pull a switch? Simple things are hard to figure out in the middle of a serious situation, and I can't tell you how many times I've had to give instructions for really simple things to some really intelligent people who would have figured it out in moments any other time--like 'Turn off your car. Your engine is overheating. It may catch on fire. Turn it off and take the keys out of the ignition.' (No kidding--actually said that when I stopped at an accident one time. Only problem--the guys spoke only Spanish, and my Spanish is limited to Yes, No, Where is the Bathroom and 2 Margaritas, please. After some constructive sign language including shaking my keys, we achieved communication, which was good because the radiator fluid had poured completely out of their truck, and the engine was starting to smoke).
If you have some universal spot for a universal style emergency switch, then it might work. Since we don't have universal spots for fire extinguishers (at least in the US to my knowledge--they just have to be visible but not in any specific spot), I wouldn't hold out too much hope.