"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.
Here were some of those answers.
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.
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.
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...
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 mapsfu, which was usually on point was failing me. I couldnt 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!