Working as a 911 dispatcher means having a steady head on your shoulders at all times. At any moment someone could call with their life on the line, hanging on to every word you say. Fortunately, most calls are handled with a calm demeanor.
Then there are those calls haunting you, leaving you with nightmares to discuss for years to come.
Reddit user, u/AdmireFire1__, wanted to know:
Got what I thought was a silent 911 from a cell phone. We get silent calls all the time. Usually I give it about 10-15 seconds before hanging up and calling back. This time we were really busy, so I let it go a few more seconds while trying to drink my coffee. About 45 seconds into the call I heard someone whisper please.
So I end up turning my volume to max and hearing a woman whispering that she was kidnapped, and in the trunk of a car. I talked her through how to find and use the latch in the back to open the trunk...and the entire time I was tracking her location through a new location clearinghouse called Rapid SOS. The guy stopped at a red light and I told her if it stops that she should run as fast as she can and get to help. She was in the city, I had a pretty good idea where she was and had cops almost on scene. She ran into a gas station, gave her phone to the guy working there, I got the address and had cops there in about 30 seconds. Dude was pulled over about half a mile down the road and arrested.
Reacting In The Process Of Happening
My wife is a former dispatcher she had one silent call that turned nasty. Often it's butt dialing or a kid fooling around. So they would send an officer to check. In this though the residence had a current restraining order on the BF. So she alerts a car who books it over there lights no sirens.
Seconds before the cop gets there all hell broke lose over the phone. Screaming, "HELP ME", thuds, yelling. She alerts the cop who skids to a stop in front of the door, sprints through the closed and locked door and football tackles a guy in the process of beating his GF to death.
Witness To One
I had gotten a tour of the emergency response center when I was in the cub scouts. They had a call come in and told us to watch what they do. The person wanted to report a dead body gave the location. They said reporting a dead body by a taxi at the convince store. It's a suicide. The operator asked how sure he was it was a suicide the caller said it hasn't happened yet. He was the one.
The operator told him help is on the way. We heard a gun go off over the phone. The operator kept asking him what happened. Another man voice came on it was an officer asking if it was the dispatch. The person was dead and his phone call was still active. We heard another officer talking in the background. Everyone started stood there in shock and some people cried or screamed. We were escorted out and many people wound up quitting after it. I was too shocked to know what to say.
Trouble Finding The Words
A friend answered a call about a cyclist being hit by a truck. Except they weren't technically hit. The truck clipped the cyclist who was actually standing on the corner waiting to cross the road, and had their bike wheel sticking a bit too far over the curb. When the truck clipped the wheel it basically sucked the whole bike and the woman on it around and between the wheels of the truck.
The man who called it in was a pedestrian who struggled to explain this woman was basically swallowed by this truck and just disappeared. He couldn't see where she went and when the truck kept on going he realised she was somehow caught in the truck and was dragged a block or two. Thankfully there was traffic so he was able to catch up to the truck after chasing it down, because the truck driver never realised what had happened.
Needless to say, it was difficult for the man to explain how this all unfolded. My friend said this man had trouble finding the words but would answer yes/no questions. He was obviously replaying the moment over in his mind but couldn't paint the picture by explaining
You See Yourself In The Victim
My best mate/housemate at the time is a dispatcher for the ambulance. She's a pretty stoic person and not much bothers her, but not long after she had her son, she took a call from a woman who had spilled hot oil on her two year old. She said the combination of the mother's hysteria, the child's screams, and the hormones from recently having a baby just really messed with her. She ended up taking the rest of the shift off. She had so many other calls that floored me, whereas she was just like 'meh, a day in the life'.
My friend is a police dispatcher, and she once got a call of a situation of mass hysteria.
She said she heard screaming and dull thuds. Apparently the person on the phone was a party guest hiding in a closet. A drunk guy at the party had snapped and started beating people to death with a chair. Two people died and a third was injured. She called multiple units over and they restrained the guy.
Just A List Of Awful
February will be 5 years. Scariest/disturbing...cant really answer that. I work hard on leaving work at work. But a few things stick out.
1: Agonal Breathing: sounds like snoring, but to me it's the sound of death. CPR calls are never easy and maybe half of your callers are in the head space to do CPR on a love one that is dying in front of them.
2: on the phone with a lady telling me her husband has been seeing a therapist for depression. She spends a lot of time ( a lot of time in our world is a matter of seconds) giving me these "unnecessary" details and final days he has a gun. And the next thing is her blood curdling scream because he just shot himself.
3: constant helplessness. When there is a true emergency happening aside from sending help. You're waiting and fairly helpless.
You Hear It All
Listened to a young girl choking and a guy screaming religious stuff at her. She was murdered... I listened to the whole thing. Still haunts me a decade later.
Did the guy at least get caught and go to prison?
I don't know to be honest... I never found out the outcome and I stopped doing that job a few months after (not because of that call, other opportunity came up). It didn't even make the news.
Enough To Quit
I had a co worker that worked for dispatch. She told me she had gotten a call from an elderly man and he said he had just beat his wife to death with a baseball bat. He was still on the line with dispatch when she heard a woman screaming for help in the background. The man told her to hang on as he placed the phone down. Then she heard a dull thud noise as he struck his wife again and she stopped screaming. He picked up the phone again and told her he was sure his wife was dead this time. Hearing a murder and not being able to do anything to stop it was too much for her. She left that line of work.
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide refer to, as defined by Medical News Today, as the "deliberate action taken with the intention of ending a life, in order to relieve persistent suffering." It's a controversial topic. As of 2021, active human euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, Canada, and Spain. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, the Australian states of Victoria Northern Territory, and Western Australia.
But this issue has many passionate supporters who often know what it's like to care for someone who would have benefited from the practice. They told their stories after Redditor Random2328 asked the online community,
"What are your thoughts on medically assisted death?"
"She was able to go to a place in Switzerland..."
"My grandma was 89 and wasn't dying of anything in particular—she didn't have cancer or dementia or anything—but her memory was slowly failing and her body was generally falling apart from old age and a leg injury from fifty years prior. She had been a widow for fourteen years. She was lonely and in pain all the time and her family lived across the ocean so we couldn't see her as much as we'd want to.
There was nothing actively killing her, but she did NOT want to be alive anymore. She wasn't depressed, just old and in pain and ready to be done.
She was able to go to a place in Switzerland, with all four of her children, and take a pill to end her life while her children sang to her and she looked out at the mountains.
We all got to say goodbye to her and she got to be completely in control of the end of her life. I can only hope that if I am ever in that situation, then the world will be kind enough to let me close my own exit as beautifully and peacefully as my grandma did."
Your grandmother sounds like she was truly blessed. Being able to make that choice––and still have time with her family––no doubt meant the world to her.
"I don't know if I'd have the courage..."
"I just went through this with a good friend in Canada. He had glioblastoma and was given 3-6 months to live. Ultimately he lived for 15 months, but he wanted to be sure he could end his life when things got bad for him, so he made the necessary preparations. I'd long known he'd made these plans. I wasn't sure how I felt about it. But as I was caring for him for the last six weeks of his life I got to witness the process firsthand.
Long story a bit shorter: Towards the end, my friend could no longer walk or speak. He could understand everything you said to him, but he couldn't find the words to reply intelligently. In his frustration, he made it clear that he was ready. So we explicitly asked him if he was ready to die. He said yes.
The next day two nurses came to his home. They talked to him and confirmed that he wanted to end his life. So, while sitting in his favorite recliner, they put in an IV. His immediate family and I sat with him. The nurses administered medication that made him fall asleep. Then they administered a second medication that stopped his breathing. In less than 5 minutes he was gone.
I don't know if I'd have the courage to make the decision my friend did, but I didn't experience his suffering. Being present for him as he ended his life has convinced me that having the option to end your life on your own terms is the absolute right thing to do. There's no reason someone should have to continue to suffer when they know all they have to look forward to is more suffering. I'm very grateful that my friend had the option available to him. Had he been in my state in the U.S. that wouldn't have been possible. But it should be."
"She made the decision to have the procedure done..."
"My grandmother passed away last week with a medically assisted death.
She had cancer that had spread to her brain, and was given a few weeks to a few months to live. From what family members said, she was deteriorating fast.
She made the decision to have the procedure done as she wanted to end her time here with dignity. The appointment was made, doctors consulted, and paperwork drawn up. 10 days later two medical professionals came by her house where she was spending time with her children. It was done quickly and comfortably.
Nana left peacefully on her own accord, in the comfort of her own home, and while she was still more or less herself. It was very strange to have a time and a date looming, but it also allowed me to set aside that time to be alone and hold a small vigil of my own (I'm currently in another country, and couldn't get back)
She lived in Canada, where this service has recently been made more accessible, and I'm all for it. If it helped my Nana, it could help so many others."
It sounds like your Nana was able to have peace––and so do you.
"It should be a right..."
"It should be a right for every human to choose when terminal. We euthanize our pets but not our loved ones. We allow our loved ones to suffer miserably at the end of life. I was a hospice nurse and saw the suffering first hand. It is inhumane to allow that."
Why do we allow it for pets and not for humans? What makes an animal's life worth more than a human's? Shouldn't they both be held in equal regard?
"I have a degenerative brain disease..."
"I have a degenerative brain disease and would very much like to die with some dignity left, so I'm all for it."
No doubt. We're sorry to hear about your struggle.
"I longed for there to be a legal way..."
"We let people die in fear and pain, but not animals. The last 6 months of my mum's life were exactly how she didn't want to live - confused, incontinent, immobile. I longed for there to be a legal way to end her suffering. She made it very clear to me during her life that this was not the way she wanted to go. I'm an RN and should make it clear I've never assisted in ending anyone's life, but I've wanted to. Medically assisted death doesn't mean more death, just less suffering."
"As someone who has..."
"As someone who has stage 4 cancer, I am in favor of having the right to die gracefully."
"If it's good enough..."
"If it's good enough for my dog then it's good enough for me."
It's truly as simple as that. We'd be doing so many human beings a favor.
"If you're not legally allowed..."
"If you're not allowed to legally arrange the end of your own life, is it actually your own life?"
"It was such a blessing..."
"My grandpa had a medically assisted death in 2019. It was such a blessing to my family as we were able to say goodbye, and knew how much time we had left.
Also it was relief from great pain for him, and I'm so glad he was able to make that choice peacefully.
Will forever advocate for it."
It's truly shocking that euthanasia is illegal in many countries––and that it can even carry a jail sentence. It is a complicated issue that polarizes many people from different walks of life.
Where do you stand on this issue? Feel free to tell us in the comments below!
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Privilege is discussed quite a bit these days, and for good reason. So many people are able to live life longer, more peacefully, and freely than others thanks to factors they had no control over.
And yet, there is an element of popularity among the privileges discussed. People acknowledge their race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, and citizenship status a lot.
That makes sense. Those are massively significant social realities that we need to grapple with constantly.
But there are some other privileges that we don't always think about. There are some things even more basic that not everybody gets to enjoy.
Observing them can make us all feel a bit more grateful.
Redditor Mburns15 asked:
"What is something most people don't realize is a privilege?"
Many called attention to the fact that the physical ability to interact with a majority of public infrastructure isn't a sure thing.
Always Calling Ahead
"Spontaneity in your daily plans. If you're a wheelchair user that's virtually impossible."
"So few places have accessible restrooms, some public transport needs contact 24 hours in advance in order to accommodate you, the list goes on."
"I envy people who can just go with the flow."
"Being able-bodied. So many people are one accident away from being unemployed and don't realize that. Your job will ruin your body - be aware and fight it."
A Silent Struggle
"Not having chronic pain" -- Aggravating_Okra_00
"Having energy to do what you want with your life. Trying to explain to people how exhausting and draining chronic pain can be. Having to explain the concept of energy budgets to people - sure I could come out and do $funthing with you, but then I wouldn't have the energy to cook and clean the house and would be useless at work tomorrow." -- Fraerie
Others chose to point out the very basic necessities that are far from ensured across the world.
To Be Comfortable
"Feeling safe in your own home. Not worrying about rats, mice, roaches, bed bugs, bricks being thrown through windows, violence outside, break ins."
"Privacy. I don't mean digital privacy, I mean a room with solid walls and a door that closes. Lots of people don't have that."
"Having access to water and a sewage system. Also the abundance of food in western super markets is quite frankly insane. Every day I try and spend a moment to reflect on how lucky I am."
"Sanitary products for women! It's different in different parts of the world + economic backgrounds"
And finally, a few people from countries around the world discussed the unique, intense struggles of living in a place that isn't embedded in the affluence of the Western world.
"Going about your daily life without seriously worrying about your physical safety. Sleeping at night without worrying about whether a bomb is going to come through your roof."
Not a Given
"Having the ability to express an opinion. Free speech is very censored in a lot of the world." -- BananaLCG
"Criticizing your own government." -- ipf000
The Ability to Think About Other Things
"Living in a good country, not having to spend your youth worrying about how to immigrate to good countries."
But before you think of this list as a big long guilt trip, imagine a more positive spin on this. There are so many things to feel grateful for, even when it seems like everything is working against you.
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The law is a fickle mistress, and it varies from state to state and county to county sometimes. And then there is the blatant hypocrisy of it all.
There are some things that feel like they should be allowed to pass but you get scolded for, like jaywalking, and then there are things like actual robbery in broad daylight, like telemarketers and nothing happens to them.
Make it make sense. It's like taxes, the wealthy know loopholes and the poor go to jail. Shameful.
Redditor u/Xanduh wanted everyone to chat about legal life fails by asking:
What do you wish was illegal?
I try my best to follow the law. And Lord knows how well I'm doing. There are so many obscure laws for ridiculous things, yet, scamming people of their life savings is a free pass. I'm confused... apparently, so are many others...
Save a Lifedrag race drugs GIFGiphy
"Hiking up prices of life saving medications. (Insulin, epi-pens, etc.)".
The Hands of Time
"Advertisement like "anti-aging" is absolutely preposterous."
"I would love to see a massive class action lawsuit against any skincare that proposes "anti-aging". Watch a judge rule in the plaintiff's favor citing that the products did not actually turn back time."
"Your credit score goes down because you cancelled a credit card."
"You want to have multiple lines of credit that you're responsible with, preferably for a long period of time, because it proves you're a reliable borrower. If you have no debt, it's almost like you've not established credit at all. Your score goes up the more lines of credit you have. It's bonkers. Someone more financially literate than me could probably explain better, though."
The DevilKate Mckinnon Snl GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
"Hi, I'm X. We're trying to reach you regarding your car's extended warranty."
I'm at the end of my tether with these car warranty calls. I swear to God... nevermind. And advertisements needs to be more regulated. That is a start at better fixing justice.
Extra $$$Happy Credit Card GIF by HollyoaksGiphy
"Convenience fees for online ticket purchases. Why am I getting charged for saving on paper, ink, and everyone's time?"
"Companies making it really difficult to cancel things. Especially subscriptions. I think the process to subscribe to something to should be exactly the same as the process to cancel it. I'm looking at you spotify."
"Gyms in general. before they started popping up everywhere I was a member at LA fitness."
"Well I moved 2hrs away from the closest one and they wanted me to come in person to cancel, then they wanted me to send in a damn letter. I can signup online, why can't I cancel online?"
No muss, no fuss.
"Printer ink being ridiculously expensive for no reason."
"Buy a laser printer. Here's my oft-told tale of woe: School got out so my kids no longer had homework to print. A month or so later we needed to print a document. Our Kodak injket printer not only refused to print but said we needed to buy a new ($90) print head because the old one had gummed up, because we'd gone too long without printing."
"I went to the local office supply store and bought a Brother laser printer. It scans, it copies, it uses wifi, and most importantly it just works.About twice a year when we need to print something I go and get it out of my garage and bring it into the house, set it on the kitchen counter, plug it in, and print to it."
"It works great - even remembers my wifi settings (SSID and password) from the previous time. No muss, no fuss. If I really want to print something in color I'll use Kinkos. Turns out I literally never need to print in color."
"Using children to monetize your social media channels."
Bot ThievesTheatre GIF by StubHubGiphy
"Bots buying tickets and up-charging the crap out of the price."
Those ticket thieves need to be taken down. No Broadway show is worth $1000! Don't fall for it kids. That mess needs to be cleaned up. There is actual crime happening to the naked eye. Let's focus there.
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While the world is a dark and scary place, there would not be a world, or a human race, without inherent kindness.
Kindness always gives you a little thump to your heart that nothing else can truly provide. A rush of knowing you've made someone's day better. And you may change the trajectory of that person's life because of it.
To hear more of these kindnesses, for inspiration, Redditor slizsarbleh asked:
"What is something you've done purely out of the goodness of your heart, but have never told anyone?"
Here were some of those stories.
One Grieving Heart To Another
"I lost my mom earlier this year and am still working through the grief. The first week a came back my coworkers had gave me a check for several hundred dollars as a kind gesture. I was truly overwhelmed by the generosity."
"The following week I came into the break room to find one of the techs with a lost look on her face. She had just gotten a phone call that her brother had been murdered the night before."
"She had moved to our city just a year prior and didn't have any family close by. As I held her and listened to her cry, I booked her a flight home."
"It was several hundred dollars as she is from a small town and the flight was for later that day. I told her to go be with family and let me know when she was ready to come back. I had no doubt that is exactly what my mom would have wanted me to do."-thatgirlmocha
Taking It For The Team
"I was extremely stressed and took a mental health day, planning on going to mom's and crying myself to sleep. We ended up going to the mall, and even though money was really tight for her, she wanted to buy me lunch (we split the bill)."
"She realized that she lost a newer $50 bill while walking around. She was devastated."
"I traded my smaller bills to a cashier for a newer $50, folded it like she would, and tossed it under the seat of her car. The next day she called me, almost crying because she was excited to find it and said that without it, groceries would've been pretty tight that week."
"Taking me out that day prevented me from having a full breakdown. I think $50 was a small price to pay for what she did for me that day."-SleepsLikeACat
Services For The Poor
"I do IT work, usually small business and a lot of home repair. I have many wealthy clients and a few not so fortunate. It is not unusual for me to go to a home and it is obvious they are barely scraping by."
"So I either don't charge those people, or make it a nominal fee. I also refurb the old PC's and give them to people who have one that is not repairable."
"My best fee ever was a basket of home grown creole tomatoes, damn those things are delicious."-Disposable70
It really does cost nothing to be kind.
Just A Game, But More Than Just A Game
"This isn't as impressive as the comments I've read but this is just something I did recently."
"I'm a member of a Sims group on FB where people talk about the game, expansion packs etc. I noticed a comment by a teenager who said her favourite pack would be Pets but she can't afford it."
"I went onto her page and saw that she really loved horses. I could also tell from her pictures that her mum was disabled and money looked tight."
"I was fortunate enough when I was her age to always get the packs on the release dates and I used The Sims as a wind down from revising and school."
"I thought that this girl needed the escapism way more than I ever did so I bought every expansion pack, messaged her the activation codes, a link to a YouTube video on how to use them, and a short message saying I hope you enjoy playing and to keep smiling."
"I really do wish her the very best."-MariaOSullivan
Saving And Changing Lives
"Bought insulin for the child of a lady in front of me at the pharmacy. The woman (single mom) was in tears & didn't have the $200 copay for that month."
"I gave her my number & told her to call me within the next few days. That was a few years ago. She now manages the office at my practice, makes enough $ for anything she needs/wants, & is one of my closest friends."
"And now she has excellent insurance for herself & her son! Be kind—it can literally change lives! <3"-EJX713
A Simple Blanket
"There's a semi-secluded bus stop beside a store I used to work at, and a homeless guy started sleeping there on the bench halfway between the stop and the parking lot one winter."
"One day I got to work 15 mins early and saw him sleeping, wearing just a flannel and jeans. So I ram into the store, bought a blanket, and covered him up with it."
"He never woke up so he didn't know it was me. Every time I saw him sitting on the bench he had the blanket wrapped around him."-SeleneSlayer
Even In The Face Of A Feud
"I have an ongoing silent feud with one branch of my family (my dad's cousins and their kids, my second cousins), and we haven't spoken or really seen each other in over 10 years."
"I've pretty much written them off, and I don't really care if we live out the rest of our lives without patching things up."
"Two months ago, one of my cousins from that branch unexpectedly died at the age of 38. Their immediate family had always had financial troubles."
"So while I didn't fly across the country to attend the funeral, I quietly sent my sister a bunch of money and instructed her to pretend it was hers and pay off part of their funeral expenses."
"And then just last week, some of my other relatives started a GoFundMe for one of my aunts in that branch (she's my dad's oldest cousin)."
"She has Stage IV cervical cancer and wants to leave the hospital to pass away at home surrounded by her loved ones, but the hospital won't release her until her medical bills are paid in full (this is in another country)."
"I haven't told my dad or anyone else in the family, but I anonymously donated my last paycheck plus the money I had been saving for my upcoming birthday trip."
"I don't really consider it out of the goodness of my heart, though. It's just that the thought of an elderly, terminally ill person dying alone somewhere that isn't home eats away at me so much that I physically couldn't sit by and do nothing."-OrifielM
And these gestures are the kind where the kindness is its own reward.
To Instill Hope
"A lady was fleeing an abusive marriage without much more than her kids and the clothes on her back. Word went out within a whisper network requesting a few essentials she needed."
"Packed up several things from the request list and also one thing that wasn't requested. I make jewelry as a hobby. Put a pair of handmade earrings into a gift bag: silver and pearls."
"Added a handwritten note that every woman deserves something beautiful and sending good wishes her way."-doublestitch
"At the beginning of the pandemic, I was volunteering at a local pizza shop to distribute slices to kids who otherwise couldn't get fed because the schools were shutdown."
"There was a woman with 3 kids that came by every few days to get slices. Turns out the father had died unexpectedly right before the pandemic started and they lost their house because of the slumlord they were renting from."
"The mother lost her job because she had no one to watch the kids. They were living in their minivan and things were bad for them."
"They were so nice and grateful, but ashamed when they'd come by to get slices that I genuinely felt for them. I had lost my job and got a pretty decent windfall of 2 months worth of unemployment and the CARES Act at once."
"My landlord had a few properties open and is a close friend, so I got in touch with him and we worked out me paying their security deposit and the first 2 months of rent and he'd cover their utilities."
"I gave her his number and said he might be able to help and they moved in the next day. They've been there ever since and are doing extremely well now."-eyexxiii
A Little Birthday Surprise
"I was in my art class in high school and there was a girl who I didn't really know a few grades younger. I could tell she didn't have many friends but was really sweet."
"She was talking to me one day and told me her birthday was soon and that she was so excited. I decided to send her those balloons and whatnot you can get through the student store on her birthday, though she didn't know me very well so I didn't sign my name."
"It just so happened that the student store worker brought them in during our art class and I got to see her reaction. She lit up and kept telling us it had to have been her mom or her best friend who did it, and how she couldn't believe that someone got her something and she wouldn't stop smiling the whole rest of class."
"I never told her it was me, I was just happy she felt special. That was a pretty good day."-Rbbbb30
Humans, above all else, have the capacity to be unendingly kind. Despite all the darkness in the world, it is these little moments of light that define us as a species.
Hopefully this has given you some faith in humans today.