911 Operators Explain Which Call Haunts Them To This Day

Emergency hotlines are places where the darkest daily stories naturally turn up. Working for an emergency hotline often means hearing awful things, and still having to find the courage to react.

But sometimes the bounds of what is horrible fully cross over the line. And then you're stuck with a night you wish you could forget and a call that is simply your cross to bear throughout life.

Redditor u/Onatic420 asked:

"911 operators what call scares you till this day?"

Here were some of those answers.

Not Just One-Let's Make It Worse

"I have two."

"1. It was my second week, and I was plugged in with another dispatcher who was handling calls, and I was working the computer and stuff as part of my training

"We got a call from a guy in a car, who said that he was in a near accident with another driver, and the other driver was following him and being aggressive. The dispatcher told him to turn around, and look for a well lit, busy place, like a gas station to stop, and we would have someone on the way to meet him there. He was shot 5 times while on the phone with us, waiting for the officer to arrive. I found out the next day on the news that the guy flew in from out of town to walk his daughter down the aisle."

"2) A month or so later, at the beginning of my shift, I received a call from a very distraught man whose dad had gone missing from his care facility. He had dementia and his dad thought he might be looking for a bar to get a drink."

"I took his information and got a description, and put out a BOLO for him."

"For these calls, we normally don't find out the outcome. In this case, one of my last calls that same night, was a person calling who found a body on some train tracks, and it turned out to be the same guy I had put out the BOLO for."

"I had to call the deputy who went and took the guy's statement and tell him the news, and he then had to go tell the guy's son. That was a sh*tty end to the night." [user deleted]

Leaving An Entire Child Behind

"Former 911 operator here. Sometimes the calls that stick with you aren't the most physically traumatic. I once had a call from a 17 year old kid who came home from a sleepover to find that his mother had moved."

"Just packed up his sister and everything in the house and left while he was gone with no forwarding address or information. She also turned off his cell phone that morning so literally the only number he could call was 911."

"He was trying so hard not to cry and his voice was shaking as he kept apologizing to me for calling 911. He just didn't know what else to do and had no other family."

"She also took everything so all he had was a couple of things that he had taken to the friends house. He told me his 18th birthday was in a couple of weeks and he literally had nothing."

"The officers that responded took him to a shelter. I think about him often and I hope he's ok. Even if he was a kid who got in trouble or had behavioral issues, I can't imagine coming home to find your mother has abandoned you."-gabbobbag

Sometimes The World Is An Awful Place

"Family member worked as police dispatcher. Received a call from an elderly woman. Her husband had just been killed in their garage by an intruder."

"She heard it happening..She's wheelchair bound but phone was next to her. She frantically begged my family member to help her. While he was on the phone with her the criminal cut her throat."

"My family member stayed on the line three more minutes until cops got there. He could hear the sounds of the attack, her gasping and gurgling noises."

"He kept telling her help was coming and to hold on. Amazingly, she survived. Criminal was later caught. A 17 year old who just wanted the thrill of killing someone and picked them at random. He's on death row now."-peeweemax

Reconsidering ever becoming a 911 operator now?

Too Gruesome (TW: Suicide)

"I wasn't, but my dad's long time gf was an 911 operator. She was an absolute angel on earth, but she had the most heartbreaking stories."

"Worst I can think of was an older woman who called 911 because her husband had locked himself in their bedroom and refused to come out, despite her begging and pleading. The lady exclaimed 'he's in there and he has a gun, please hurry!'"

"While the operator was trying to keep her calm and talk her down, she heard the unmistakable pop of a gun."

"I can't imagine the wailing on the other end of the phone after that poor lady had to listen to her husband committing suicide through the door."-suddendiligence


"Every call where someone is reporting an unresponsive relative."

"Some will let you walk them through the CPR process if they don't know it, some won't. Every one of them you hear the caller at some point pleading with the patient to not leave them."

"Most times they do though. Parents, spouses, children, I've had them all call. Never gets easier."-RaisinBranKrunch

A Little Levity

"I'm going to do another one because this thread is a bummer and we all need a laugh. I am, I assure you, not making any of this up."

T"here was a ranch on the edge of the city limits in my area, right by a large park and swimming hole."

"That ranch had a variety of livestock, but they had an issue with their pygmy goats - every few weeks we'd get a call because ~100 little goats were roving through the park or down the street. One day, I took that call - from a man in the park who had been chased by the goats into a porta-potty."

"He was FRANTIC. Like, screaming. 'You need to send ANIMAL CONTROL out here RIGHT NOW!'"

"And all the while, I could hear two other prominent, repeated sounds - the "whack!" of little goat noggins rattling against the plastic porta-potty, and bleating. Malevolent, incessant bleating."

"What did those goats want? What would they have done, had he not found refuge? We'll never know."-mandolin08

Aaaaand The Levity's Gone

"I have two:"

"A call from a male who stated he'd found his girlfriend's son unresponsive. Very frantic caller. He and the mother passed the phone back and forth multiple times while I tried to give various rescue instructions."

"That part wasn't all that abnormal, but they later took the male into custody and I found out the initial caller had strangled the kid and then freaked out and called. Still makes me mad and it's been years."

"Not mine, but a call they played for us in state training. An elderly man had a complete psychotic break and killed his wife with a hammer. Afterward he calmly called 911 and confessed."

"The dispatcher attempted to give rescue instructions, up until he realized the damage was extensive enough that her head was mostly gone. Several of the first officers on scene were violently ill because of how bloody the house was."-mandolin08

Not much to say here...it just keeps getting worse.

The Closest Of Calls

"Not scary, but will definitely stick with me for the rest of my life…answered a 911 call about an unresponsive male driver passed out at a stop sign."

"I got the info and dispatched units to the scene. Realized moments later that the vehicle the caller described was my own. It was my 26 year old so who had overdosed on heroin and Xanax."

"He was at a road literally 100 feet from dispatch and EMS. We made it there at the same time. Narcan saved his life. He'a currently in rehab for the next year, and is rocking it."-dispatch507

Bye Bye Jerk Operator

"The women had gotten out of her car and shut the door and went around to get her infant out of the car seat."

"As she walked to the kids door the car locked itself and she left the key inside. So this kid is stuck in the car and it is a hot summer day so she immediately calls 911."

"Well, the operator told her it did not qualify as an emergency and hung up. So the mom picked up a branch and smashed the back windshield and rescued her kid. The operator got fired."-THELIONKINKY

All of these are enough to probably haunt you for an evening or two. Imagine how it feels being the person who is telling the story.

Be thankful for your mundane jobs today.

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/

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