911 Operators Break Down The Strangest Call They've Ever Received
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

"911, what is your emergency?" is the first part of your script. After that, nobody knows the rest of the script.

It could be something serious--maybe someone could be hurt. It could be something important but less dangerous, so you can keep your cool.

It could be something totally batty. But there's just no way to really know until it happens.

u/Infinite-Aviation asked:

911 Operators, What is the scariest or strangest call you've ever gotten?

Here were some of those answers.

***SPOILER.... The following content is for 17 and Over and contains darker material***

Some Serious Ones At First

Scariest was a woman who called and said her husband had a gun and was threatening to kill himself. While the officers were on the way they wanted to talk to her. While I was transferring her she said "he's pointing the gun at me" but luckily the officer picked up right after and I could disconnect. I was still in training at the time so it was scary.

Worst call was an old man who called saying he accidentally ran over his son with his combine. His son tripped while he was next to the big wheel and went under it. He was crushed. I froze for a solid 10 seconds not knowing what to do because my mind went blank. This was when I was fresh out of training, so I was still inexperienced with that level of intensity.


Nature Vs Nurture

Not mine, but an old friend of my Mom's we'll call Judy:

Judy was a switchboard operator in high school (before 911 was a thing). She got this call one day from a dude who was keeping a literal and actual, fully grown DEER as a pet. Not only that, it was a MALE adult deer. This guy had raised said deer since it was a baby and it had been fine for years. But it was still a wild animal, mating season had rolled around and for whatever reason it had decided that its owner was competition.

In short, this man was being attacked by his pet buck. Judy called the cops, but she had to stay on the line until they got there. So she had to listen to him being gored to death on the other end of the phone by a deer. Needless to say, they didn't get there in time to save him and Judy still has nightmares about the whole thing 50+ years later.


Microwaved It

Oh there are just so many!

Many times I've walked people through CPR after someone calls 911 to say their spouse isn't breathing - crew arrives and finds an elderly patient doing CPR on a blanket or a pillow.. no ill intent just mental health problems.

Took a call where a guy was stabbed - just wanted to keep him talking so asked if he knew who did it - he named the guy and then stopped responding seconds later - dead when the crew arrived.

Fairly rare but we sometimes get calls from people saying their pet isn't breathing or is choking and they want us to walk them through CPR or send help.

I've taken three calls where people chopped off their penis. Two of them were sitting in a tub, one had microwaved it.

I would say > 50% of all calls are related to drugs and alcohol.. maybe 25% are mental health related and then 25% random accidents or medical emergencies.


Oh, P

Private security/emergency control room operator here.

I have a lot of different stories I can share so here's just one.

We recieved a call from a lady but when you work at a job for a decent amount of time like that you start to recognize your clients voices. We immediately knew it was the local town crazy, let's call her P.

Now, P was certified batty and insane. If you worked nightshift and worked the inbound calls you would dread getting a call from her because she claims she sees ghosts, that her neighbours try to kill her every night and that her family is in on the thing because they keep trying to take her to an asylum but P refuses to do so because she claims she is mentally well.

The family tried getting the police take her in but because there is no certifiable evidence that she is insane they couldn't do anything about it.

I've worked there for 3 years and she phone about every night even from before I started there. Right, so this one fateful night guess who was working inbound that night...

Right off the bat when I answered she said she "saw" a spirit come out of her and she knows definitely it's her neighbours that are trying to steal her soul, she also mentions how scared her cat looks and how desperately it's trying to claw its way out for her to open the window.

She says this is odd behaviour of her cat but she mentions it every time she calls how the cat is trying to get out, seems she forgets every conversation from previous nights.

Now I just calmly tell her we can send a response officer to patrol the area as that usually appeases her then we hang up and that's that for the night... Usually.

2 hours later we recieve a panic from wouldn't ya know, the neighbours of P. She was trying to break in and stab them with a knife, she kept claiming that they tried to steal her soul and she won't allow them to harm anyone else.

Needless to say, police got called in, they saw how crazy she was, she got sent to an asylum 2 provinces over and we haven't heard of her since.

Kinda scary that I was the last person she talked to before she decided to try and kill her neighbours. Chilling.

And that's just one story...


Mayday Mayday

Coast Guard command center, so the maritime version of 911 (you call "MAYDAY" on the radio, I pick up). Probably when I got the call that we lost one of our own helicopters. I never saw the report, but from what I gathered they were trying to take off and the winds (this was hurricane response) caused them to crash at takeoff. Everyone got out and no lasting injuries, but the helo caught fire and I'm pretty sure had to be scrapped. For sure one of the more memorable ones since it's different when it's "one of your own" and also aircraft emergencies tend to kill people a lot better than sinking boats.


Put It In The Pizza

Scariest was an elderly woman who was vacuuming her carpet and saw large footprints in the carpet she had already vacuumed. She didn't hear anything but was terrified. Turns out her grandson had broken in and hid in the closet when she had her back turned and the noise of the vacuum cleaner could cover it up.

Strangest was a woman who called and reported that she had been robbed by a police officer and that she wanted to report him. She didn't have a name or description of the officer, but claimed "it was one of you guys." She said the officer came to her house, took her money and left. She couldn't give us enough info and refused to give us an address, so she ended up hanging up.

She called back a little later and had the same story, except it wasn't an officer, but someone with a logo shirt and hat approached her at her apartment, took her money and left. Again, refused to give us more info or her location and hung up on us. This happened a few more times that night, with the story becoming a little clearer every time. By the time the morning came, we had deduced that she had simply ordered a pizza and paid for it.


A Call From Across The Sea

I got a 911 call from a different country. Always doublecheck your VOIP emergency settings. Its led to a few avoidable deaths.

So I was working nightshift when i get a call about a girl being followed. She kept on mentioning a nearby shop and burger king as her location. The location sounded like it was a spanish supermarket. Thinking it was night time, I instructed her to go to a well lit, public place where it would be hard to be dragged away from, which was the burger king.

My google maps, which was usually on point was failing me. I couldn't get the spelling of the name of the place and needed to clarify which part of the metro area she was in, so I asked her what city she was in. She replied by saying,"I'm in florence" "Florence, (US STATE)?" "No, Florence, Italy".

I ended the call by telling her to change the phone's settings to local 911/get help from the burger king. I don't know why she didn't realize that the 911 operator responded in perfect English with a Southern accent wasn't Italian. She was on a study abroad and probably had her home police number set up in Voip when she called 911. I spent the rest of the night confused, thinking I was hallucinating. I told my supervisor in the morning at shift change about it and she confirmed it when I came back later for my next shift.


This Could Have Been Bad

My old house mate was a paramedic and I remember him telling me about a time he (and loads of other ambulances) had been scrambled to the city airport because there was a passenger jet (737 or similar) on approach and in trouble.

Luckily that plane landed without incident. Apparently it happens far more than most of us are aware of but better safe than sorry I guess!


Lacking Closure

I'd need closure. I worked in substance misuse and one Friday afternoon, last minute, I picked up the phone. It was a suicidal client. All the medical staff had left, and there was just me, admin person, trying to talk her down and advising her who else to call etc.

I worried all weekend. First thing Monday morning I was on the phone to the local hospital, hoping to hell she hadn't actually done it and I'd been the last person she spoke to. Luckily no, however she died from a heroin overdose a year later.


Talk to my Mom

It's not scary in the sense of creepy, but it really affected my mom and she had to take a break for a while after it. My mom works in the psychological support line for the 911, meaning that if somebody calls because they're just too sad, lonely, overwhelmed or just want someone to talk to, the call gets transferred to my mom.

She got a call at the end of her shift that night and it was a guy around my age who simply stated he was sad and did not want to be alone that night. My mom asked the regular questions just to make sure that he was safe and continued talking to him.

He told her about how his parents abused him since he was very little, he told her every detail of it, he explained to her that that was the reason he did not have any friends or close family members, how he lived alone now and he cried a lot every night. My mom continued talking to him, when he suddenly says he feels very sleepy and he might have to hang up soon, my mom knows this is usually a sign that he might've taken something, so she dispatches an ambulance to his house and tries to keep him on the line.

The ambulance took 2 hours to get to his house because they said it was not an emergency, even though my mom told them it was and she was certain about it. She stayed on the line for 2 hours trying to get this person to stay awake and continue talking because the ambulance took so long, until he eventually stopped replying to her. When they got there, he was already dead, he was lying on the couch with the phone on his hand and my mom on the line.



Not a 911 operator but a paramedic strangest/scariest would have to be when we got a dispatch for a cardiac arrest the dispatcher told us that a woman had found her sister in a bag and was screaming about not being able to find her legs but was too hysterical to answer any clarifying questions. Turns out the woman had gone to her sisters house because they hadn't seen or heard from her in a week which was odd. She found her sister dismembered in a trash bag in the back yard and some of her limbs were in a burn barrel near by. Sister's husband had killed her and was trying to dispose of the body.


Poor Girl

3 years ago a 5yo girl found her parents dead in their bedroom with blood all over the place and a bullet on the floor, she was in the backyard and heard some shots and after 2 hours of hiding she found the body.



I have a friend who works for a crisis line. A call came through from a guy standing on the wrong side of the barrier on a bridge, he was ready to jump. After some time my friend convinced him to climb over onto the right side, as he was climbing over he slipped and fell off the bridge. His family will never know that he had actually changed his mind and it wasn't suicide. My friend was gutted.


The Kids

I've taken calls from kids in domestic situations and it always sucks hearing how scared they are. At least scared kids are better on the phone than scared adults.


PTSD by Proxy

Filled in as a 911 operator and dispatcher for a rural County a few decades ago. Got a call for a motor vehicle accident one night. The car had gone off a 60-foot embankment ending up upside down in a shallow river. As calls played out, there had been 6 occupants all deceased. Bodies were found from the accident site to half a mile downriver. 3 of the occupants had been friends or acquaintances of mine. The stress of knowing that and taking calls from family members I knew most of the night soured my young self on the job. Please give rural first responders extra support. PTSD by proxy is a real thing.


the last goodbyes....

I once got a call from a individual who's mom passed away a day prior, he stayed the night with his mom. Washed her, changed her, brushed her hair, and then cuddled her through the night before calling.... in the end he just wanted to say his last good byes. He went on to seek psychiatric help after the event to assist with the passing.


Off the Cliff

My night shift just took a call this weekend where a guy drove an atv off a 200 foot cliff. Dude obviously didn't make it but he wasn't dead on scene.

Edit: also, side note, working one county over from where all my family lives terrifies me, because just happen to dispatch ambulance for that county in addition to mine. It's a matter of time until I work a call on family.


You Killed Him!!

Not scary or strange, just... sad. I received a call from a man who's father was having a heart attack. It was a rural area, and although most people knew each other, it was policy not to use anyone's name on the radio. I toned and dispatched the ambulance service and gave a play-by-play of directions on country roads from the caller to the ambulance service. It took them almost 20 minutes to get out to the area of the farm where the patient was. Toward the end, they had trouble finding them, and I had to ask the caller several times to repeat the directions. The patient didn't make it, largely due to the time it took the responders to arrive.

About two hours later, the sheriff, ambulance and fire chief, and the caller arrive at the jail where we dispatched. The caller was yelling at me saying "You killed my father!" over and over again. It wasn't until he listened to the tape of the call, and learned that in his panic he gave me the wrong directions, did he stop. I was told that If I had been allowed to use the victims name on the radio - the driver would have known exactly where to go. The fire chief and sheriff tried to console me, but I was a wreck for weeks. That was the most traumatic for me, and I've not talked about it for years.



Worked as a 911 dispatcher while I was in undergrad for a rural town in Appalachia. It was about 45 minutes from campus and on night shift we could go literally hours without a call and I could study.

The last call I took was from a woman who drove around flood water signs with her kid in the car.

Edit: I'm ok guys thanks. This was nearly twenty years ago.


The Big City

Not an Operator. But I'm a big city Cop. I've had 4 kids die in my arms/presence.

2016, had a 5 year old kid literally die in my arms after he got hit by an old Ford F-350 truck. Kid was getting Ice Cream from Ice Cream truck and goes to cross the street and go back home. Dad is blasted drunk and sees Truck coming. Goes to grab kid, but trips him into the street instead. Truck hits him and drags him 25 feet.

I was driving down a Main Street just north. Got to the scene about 20 seconds after dispatch puts out the call.

I pull up and see the kid laying in the street. Mom and Dad are screaming in Spanish for me to save him. But kids skull is crushed. Started CPR while Fire arrived. I pick the kid up to load him on gurney to save time, and he took his last breath in my arms. Fire took him anyway but he was gone.

I hate wearing lotion because it feels the same as the kids blood did on my arms that day.

The other kids were pool drownings and vehicle ejections.


On the Ferry

Summer of 2019 I worked the tourist info booth for my very rural home town. One night mid summer while waiting for the ferry to come in (usually pulled in around 5pm after a 12 hour trip from lower on the coast) we got word the boat was delayed due to a plane crash since they were the nearest ship and had two doctors on board so had to assist. When the ferry finally arrived the next day I had to deal with a couple of passengers who were endlessly b!tching that the coast guard specifically asked for assistance from their boat and how angry that they were one day late for their reservations at an empty campground.


The Tragic Accident

Not an operator myself, but used to know one. She always said the toughest calls were from parents that had accidentally hurt their kids...

She once got one from a dad who had accidentally backed over his son playing in the driveway with his car... She didn't think that man would ever get right again. She wasn't sure she would...

She also had more than one calls from parents that had brought their babies into bed with them... rolled onto them in the night and suffocated them...

Those were the ones that haunted her.... the ones where she knew she couldn't help.... not the injured, nor the ones that had caused the injury...



I had a woman who was hiding under her bed. 2 men had broken into her house and was holding her boyfriend hostage in the bathroom and they didn't realize she was there under the bed. She was pregnant at the time and got wedged under the bed and stuck. I was 5 months pregnant at the time so it was very memorable. A deputy happened to be close by and got there in less than 4 minutes but they had already shot and killed the boyfriend. Hearing his screaming and then her screaming when she realized he was dead will stick with me for the rest of my life.



Not a 911 operator. I worked for a British call center (offshore I'm from Zululand) I kept getting calls from people trying to get through to family members during the Grenfell Towers fire. I reported this multiple times to management and felt helpless. People would call in and just cry. I remember Googling numbers for local police but I was getting into trouble for spending too long on calls.

I would look at the account (not giving any account info) and see the last activity was hours before for someone who normally constantly used their phone. We were given instructions from the UK to release the call if it wasn't someone from our network. Eventually DAYS later they decided to give new phones free to the victims who survived and needed the help. The pain in their voices hurt me really badly.



Not me but my Mom is a Herald of the EMS Gods (whereas, I am just a lowly street runner). She took a call back in 2012, where it was a homicide and the caller was eventually convicted for said homicide. She actually had to testify in court. I heard the call when she was preparing to testify earlier this year. It wasn't much but my mom even said that something didn't feel right about it and was trying to get additional info out of him. He said stuff like "she's bleeding from her neck" "she's not breathing." Fairly standard stuff. The thing was he was the convicted murder on the phone.


The Cry

Not my story but my friend's so this is a short one....

So she was just doing her job and a drunk guy called 911 because his neighbors had just attended funeral so they were "crying to loud" and when she said that's not mean emergency and that he's being rude he said "I'll find you and I will freaking kill you and your whole family then burn your house and through your dead body into a lake" then she hung up.



I am not an operator but on another Reddit thread I remember reading things similar to this one. One that always stuck with me, is when Katrina was happening, the calls were overwhelming the system, so they were being routed to a town or so over period one woman who commented on the thread said she remembered a lady who was in the Attic of her home but couldn't get out of the Attic window onto her roof because the window opening was too small and her body couldn't fit. She talked to the lady until the lady died from the flood water.



On My Way Goodbye GIF by Bubble PunkGiphy

Old lady called to complain that a cat was on her bed... it was her cat.



I was an ambulance dispatcher and my twin brother was an EMT. I may have told this before, but it's genuinely the biggest, most immediate, and most visceral "Oh F**k."

I was working a typical day with three coworkers: My work husband, a narcissist, and an idiot. Twin Bro was in Kansas, doing a long-distance transport. (We lived and worked in the Denver area, but long-distance transports happen sometimes.)

Work Husband picked up the ambulance crew line, and stayed on the line for a surprisingly long time. When he hung up, he said that Twin Bro and his partner were caught in a hailstorm, and their ambulance was being hit by tennis ball sized hail. Their windshield was taking heavy damage.

OH. F**K.

Crap immediately hit the fan. Narcissist called his favorite supervisor, ostensibly to advise Supervisor of the situation, but actually to get a bunch of attention. He stopped doing his work. Idiot immediately stopped doing her work, ran over to Work Husband, and freaked out about it in her outside voice: "OH MY GOD, WHAT ARE THEY GONNA DO... OMG insertcaffeine ARE YOU JUST, LIKE, FREAKING OUT BECAUSE YOUR BROTHER'S OUT THERE?"

My answer: "I don't freaking have time."

I got the crew's location, then frantically started googling stuff: PSAP phone number (how to reach 911 where Twin Bro was), auto glass shop, hospital, hotel, and body shop. I paged it to Twin Bro. Then, because Narcissist and Idiot weren't doing their work, I picked that up. I answered phone calls for transfers, answered phone calls from their crews, and dispatched their ambulances.

I ended up leaving a couple hours after they called, not knowing if they'd make it back. A few hours after I got home, I got a text from Twin Bro. He'd made it back. The relief and the release of stress hit me like a ton of bricks and reduced me to a blubbering, ugly crying mess.


Hold Me

My dad used to be a dispatcher. I can vividly remember one night he came home after a shift and just woke me up and held me and cried. He had been on the phone with a mother whose 5 year old daughter's head got stuck out the car window while they were driving. A semi drifted smashing her head and decapitating her. The woman was injured being ran off the road. He was visibly shaken and so sad.


Screaming on the Inside

Not me, but my sister is a dispatcher. One time she received a call from a man who said he just killed his sister and brother. She kept him on the phone for 5 or 6 minutes to make sure he didn't run before officers arrived. She got him to admit they had all been drinking and playing cards, then got into an argument when one of them accused the other of cheating. The other two went to bed, but this guy stayed up stewing. Apparently he couldn't let it go. He shot each of them in their beds while they slept, then called 911. I heard a partial recording of the call and she sounded calm AF. She told me she was screaming on the inside the entire time.


The Abducted

For my own personal story, I am not or ever was a responder, but on a separate thread I was reading tonight, was talking about a lady named Denise Lee that got abducted from her home in front of her two Children band later killed even though there were FIVE 911 calls about her abduction, inducing a lady who watched it unfold before her. Apparently up until then, this happened in 2008, operators didn't require any sorts of training, and so that incident changed the way they are hired I think maybe it is just optional training that is provided, and her parents and her foundation are trying to get it to be full training and certification for anyone who wants to be an operator.


Too Much to Hear

911 dispatcher for 13 years here. Scariest call I ever took was a man who told me about how he set his girlfriend on fire. He walked into a gas station smelling like gasoline and asked them to call 911 so he could turn himself in. They then put the man on the phone with me and he said that he thought she was "running around on him" and he couldn't take it so he just sat her on fire. I had to talk to the man and make sure he'd turn himself in peacefully.


Password please....

I was a dispatcher for a residential alarm company similar to ADT. I would call people when their alarm was tripped and ask them if they were okay. One day I received a signal from a residence from a glass break sensor on a window in the bathroom. When I called the lady was laughing so hard she could barely give me her safety password.

Turns out she was cleaning her bathroom and when she bent over she farted so hard and loud it set off the sensor on the bathroom window.


Hold on Ms....

Older lady, I want to say maybe early 70s, calls in with a sort of polite urgency in her voice, tells me she thinks she's having a stroke. Tells me she has her grandchild at the house with her, asks me to call her daughter to come get the child.

By the time she's done giving me the phone number there's just a very slight slur in her speech. By the time EMS got there (probably no more than 5 minutes or so) I couldn't understand a thing she was saying. Fascinating, disturbing, and profoundly sad hearing someone stroke out on the phone as they're talking to you.



I'll go with a lighter one. I once had an elderly woman complain that gang members tagged her shed. She also said she didn't want a black deputy (this is the south). The (black) deputy arrived and found that it wasn't spray paint, but that her shed was so dirty that slugs had eaten paths in the filth that created patterns.


Listen Closely

aroused goat GIFGiphy

Had some one call saying a man had been killed by a goat. Turns out goat is what they also call the machine that picks oranges off of trees. Miscommunication can be horrifying.


No Answer

So when I was younger I had a friend that lived right by the highway and one day we were hanging out on the porch and a very bad accident happened and everybody lived but a couple of them had broken bones and they were all screaming at us to call 911, and this was in 2005, and I called 911 over and over and it just rang and rang and rang each time I mean it was a Tuesday morning that was not busy and we live in a midsize town.


Stay with me....

For me, the worst ones are always the calls you can relate to on a personal level. I took a call last month from a father who discovered his son with a bag over his head and a note next to his body. I've taken a ton of suicide calls, but this one was particularly difficult for me because the son was my age, and the way the father pleaded with his son was almost exactly the same way I've imagined my dad if I were to ever do the same.

I've had the same "Come on, buddy! Don't do this to me!" running in my head at least 2-3 times a day since.

Also, not technically a call but my first shift on my own, I dispatched the deputy I did my ride along with to a domestic that he ended up being shot and killed at. Hearing his blood-gurgled "shots fired" scream on the radio won't be something I'll ever forget.


DUDE! My Dog! 

Well, my buddy is a fireman and dispatch had just alerted them of a man having chest pains. They get to the guys house, and as soon as they open the door, the dude's dog runs outside. The dude shouts "you let my dog out! go get my dog! Please!" So my buddy immediately starts chasing the dog.

He catches the dog, comes back to the house, and when he walks in the door he sees that the man having "chest pains" had actually shot a HOLE IN HIS CHEST while cleaning his gun.

Old dude shoots himself in the chest, tells 911 it's chest pains, and when help arrives, he makes them go chase his dog down before tending to his own life threatening wound. Biggest WTF of my buddies career.


You check first

"A woman complaining of spiders in her vagina"

In college, I worked as an EMT in a major city. Not the craziest call I ever had but one of the wackiest call outs we ever got was to respond to "a woman complaining of spiders in her vagina". I'll never forget pulling up to this major intersection where, sure enough, there's this old lady lying on the sidewalk with her pants off and legs spread up in the air. Turns out it was this transient lady in her 70s who had been having some wild hallucinations.

We still had to check for spiders. :(


No that is not Normal

The Office No GIFGiphy

Not 911, but tele-nursing, people called me plenty when it should have been 911.

Grandma, calls me about her 16 year old, 40 week pregnant, grand daughter.

GM: Hey my grandbaby is pregnant and she just went to pee and said the cord is hanging out....is that normal?

Me: No.....not even a little bit.


On the floor

112 dispatcher amongst other things. My job is actually a fireman but due to the structure of the fire department where I live we are also taking calls.

Anyway got a call once from a lady who wanted assistance because she fell on the floor, lived alone and had trouble standing up. Pretty common so I sent a crew out there. They come back and they tell me she was kind of disappointed. This call kept happening for the next few days till we understood what was going on. She had a crush on one of my colleagues and she just wanted him to visit her. When she finally put together when his shift was working, they only had her calls ever since.


I'm sure he was this way because of shock.

The way each person reacted in each call stuck with me. Both of these incidents were on different ends of the spectrum as far as life changing events. Yet the responses each caller had to the event was not what I would've expected. But everyone that genuinely calls 911 (or in my case 000) is having a really bad day.


don't come to the garage.....

After a while they all blend together but I do have one call that I remember at times.

A wife called because she found a note in the kitchen saying "call 911, don't come to the garage." I guess her husband was chronically ill and decided to commit suicide on Mother's Day while his wife and daughter were out. The hardest part for me was pleading with the teenaged daughter to stay outside and wait for first responders.


Good Days/Bad Days

Oh man. I helped deliver a couple of babies, which was awesome and a positive in a largely negative job.

I'll never forget the time that a girl called and said her friend shot himself. She did not know the address of where they were, but she knew the general location. I had to tell her to look around and yell out everything she saw.

I used the satellite view on google maps to find her location based on what she told me.

Helping parents perform CPR on a newborn is one of the worst things ever.

I probably have more, but digging that stuff up isn't always the greatest.


Lights Up!

happy girl GIF by Children's Miracle Network HospitalsGiphy

During a power outage, I got screamed at by a man who demanded to know why he didn't have power when a car JUST drove by with its lights on!