True story: How a mugging victim used Twitter to get help

I am going to begin this story the way it unfolded, with a Tweet. 

Sunday night, around 11 p.m., this arrived on a Twitter account I use to stay in touch with people locally.

@heathermg: Is anyone awake out there? I just got mugged in front of my house and could really use help calling the police.

@heathermg aka Heather Goss is very involved in the Washington DC blogging community. Her activities include working as managing and arts editor at the very popular DCist, a major online news and arts site serving the Washington Metro area.

I RT (retweeted) @heathermg’s note but immediately felt frustration because I didn’t know where she lived or how to get help to her. But some people who saw her initial distress Tweet knew what to do. While that response was under way, a broader discussion emerged. 

The concern was that Twitter use had finally jumped the shark if people were Tweeting for help instead of dialing 911. Wrote one:

 “huh? getting mugged & she couldn't manage pressing "911 send" but could send out a message on Twitter?

Other Tweets raisied that question. It was an obvious one and I didn’t know the answer.

In some follow-up DMs (direct messages) today, Ms. Goss said her cell phone was stolen by the mugger. She didn't have a landline in her house; just an Internet connectiion. In her house, she could Twitter. 

Ms. Goss was robbed but unhurt.

She wrote:

@heathermg I sent the tweet and 3 friends called 911 for me. I never made a call.
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