Being a 911 operator means you are the first line of defense for people in need. You have a hard job already.
But with every hard job comes those things that just really stick with you. They haunt you in the middle of the night. They permeate your dreams.
Here were some of those answers.
The Last Moment
I was a 911 Dispatcher for over a decade, and it really freaked me out when people would call, state their name and where they live, then shoot themselves while they were still on the phone. I was the last person they ever spoke to on this earth. It didn't happen often, but it haunts you. Many other types of calls haunt you as well.
That's It, It's Over
Not me, but my friends sister was a dispatcher for a reservation.
She recieved a call from a woman who's house was on fire, she had to listen to this person's screams as they were literally burned alive.
He told me she quit that week.
Had To Get Outta There
I used to be a 911 dispatcher. The call that sticks with me the most is the sister of a teenage boy who had committed suicide with a firearm. Hearing her sobbing over the phone line damn near broke me. I didn't last long in that job after that.
Too Many To Count
I was the one who responded to the calls (fire/ems) and I've had quite a few chilling experiences.
- Rolling in for and OD, I see the parents outside the door waiting for us. As I'm running in, they just coldly said, "he's upstairs, first door on the left. He usually likes heroin."
- I'm trying to cut through a car seat to get to my very dead patient. I look across the farm and see the local news filming us live. No biggie, I'm used to it. Then the dead lady's phone rings in her pocket. Stops. Rings again. Stops. Rings again. Stops. Rings again. Rinse. Repeat.
- MVA, CPR in progress. It was one of those times where you look and think to yourself, "we're only pumping because the law requires us to. He's toast." My patient, though, was from the other vehicle. No matter what question I asked him, his response was, "is he gonna be okay? I swear it was an accident! I didn't see him coming! Please tell me he's gonna live." Seems like a normal response, but the human element always got to me.
- 4 or 5 y/o presenting with febrile seizure. Nothing serious, happens more often than you think to totally normal, healthy children. But as soon as I opened the door to the ambulance, the mom drops the kid in my arms and screams in broken English, "please you fix the baby"
- Responded to a fully involved, working dwelling fire. 1 man and 1 dog, both dead. Patient degloved when we first tried to extradite the body. Dropped the corpse and focused on the fire instead once it was determined that nobody else was inside. Find out the next day, dude never changed his smoke detector batteries. Something in his circuit breaker started the fire and his dog woke him up, but by then he made it 4 paves before collapsing.
- Christmas Eve at about 0430 or 0500. Self inflicted GSW to the head. This was about a month or two after my brother in law was shot in the head in Afghanistan, so that made it extra special.
Not an Operator but a Firefighter. This isn't too long ago. It's 11:00pm and my pager goes off. On my rush to the station we all hop out (only 3 others) and rush into throw on gear. It was a box alarm, the things you shouldn't pull in school kids. We rush down to scene in an Engine waiting to call a tanker or a ladder.
We evaluate the scene and start to make our way into this old 1950s built Baptist church. No smoke, no fire, nothing to require a scott. However as we're poking around there's a trail... A slight trail of blood. Our lieutenant on scene decides to follow it.
Next police arrive on scene and we call in a Rescue just incase. I was 17 and it was my 2nd year on the dept, keep in mind. Our lieutenant make his way into a small sunday school room sees a Man with a torn leg, smashed window and barley conscious. Just wide eyes and heavy breathing. He was about 26 and later learned his story.
Guy had broken into the house next door trying to steal back his guitars that his ex sold. Then this guy is attacked by a dog, don't ask what breed. So he gets his leg messed up and manages to get away and breaks the window of the church climbing in and tearing his leg more on the glass. Pull the fire alarm hoping a rescue would come
. He got lucky. But seeing a man with a mutilated mangled bleeding leg just looking into nothing in the dark basement of a church is something that messes with you for a few months.
TL;DR: Fireman sees the sheer horror of a robbery gone wrong in a dark church at night.
This Is NOT An SNL Sketch
I used to be a 911 operator and one time this guy called and was like help help I've been pooping for three days straight and I can't stop pooping and like I was like hey dude I don't really know what to do about that but I'm gonna send an ambulance over and then I sent the ambulance and they got there and I heard him on the phone they were like oh my god this guys pooping so much we don't know what to do so like they eventually Took him to the hospital and like I don't know what happened after that
Scared To Death
My mom got a call as a 911 operator, an old man said he had hit a person with his car and was frantic. Mom tried to calm him down but he had a heart attack and died while on the phone with her- turned out he actually just hit a deer.
The Most Gruesome Moments
I'm not an operator, but I work in the same room as them and have access to some of the CCTV cameras around the county.
I could hear one of the operators on the phone about a drunk man who had fallen in the road and was run over. By a truck.
I switched to the CCTV camera for that area and could see him just laying in the road, a long streak of red where his head should have been. First (and thankfully the only on so far) dead body I've ever seen.
I thought I couldn't be fazed by anything, as I'm pretty emotionally dead, but this just felt different. I had to stop work and just stare at the wall for a little while whilst I re-adjusted my emotions.
One of the main problems of my job is that I only experience the start of anything. I have no idea who that man was, if they caught the driver or anything else that happened afterwards. All I know is that the man was laying on that cold tarmac for a couple of hours before anyone turned up to cover him.
Simple, Yet Chilling
My mother worked as a 999 operator and she got a call from a guy who said he stabbed his father 7 times in the chest
I'm not an operator. My teams main job is researching information relevant to what's happening in real time so that the dispatchers are free to just concentrate on the call, but still get the information they need to direct officers correctly. All the information we find, the actions of the officers attending, everything the call taker asks and the callers replies all get written down on the system we use, kind of like a story that's still being written.
This one is of my colleagues experiences that she told me about when I started. An old man called. He was suicidal, lonely and depressed after the death of his wife and said he had a gun. It was all hands on deck to get to the guy before he killed himself.
My colleague was in charge of finding exactly where the man lived, any history of suicide or mental illness and if he actually did have access to a firearm (a lot of people say they do when phoning up about suicide, but they just want help and its a sure-fire way to get the police to attend). She managed to find out that he didn't have any legal firearms at the house and helped direct the officers to the man. The officers got to him and stated that he was just sitting in his chair with his cane.
Before they could speak to him, my colleague found one information report from a few years ago stating that the man had an interest in 'hidden weapons' ie antique or novelty weapons disguised to look like something else. Suddenly a lot of things clicked. The cane! The guns the ca..BANG
The old man blew his head off with a single barrel shotgun disguised as a gentleman's walking cane. She was given the rest of her shift off after that. Don't think she ever forgave herself for not finding that bit of information sooner.
More Disturbing For The Patron
One time right before school got out cause of corona my friend's phone was like legit possessed. It kept going all over the lock screen and typing in random numbers for the passcode and opening the emergency call thing without anyone touching it. It ended up calling 911 and she freaked out and kept hitting the end call button. It ended and she got control over her phone but they called back (which I didn't know they did lol) and she was on a call just saying sorry my phone was glitching out and when I asked who it was she just nervously laughed and said the police
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/