911 Operators Describe The One Call That They'll Never Forget

911 Operators Describe The One Call That They'll Never Forget
Image by tevenet from Pixabay

Being an emergency dispatcher must lead to experiences no other job could possibly create. Someone calls, panicked, worried, and it's your duty to not only keep the person calm, but retrieve critical information to pass along to the necessary help before they arrive. However, not every call ends well, as evidenced by the stories below.

Reddit user, u/catsugh, wanted to hear from the front line when they asked:

911 responders, what is a call that you will never forget?

Wait For Professional Help To Arrive

Harley motorcycle tipped over and the clutch lever went into a 4 year old's eye. Parent was on the line asking what to do. Suddenly, she said, "They're going lift the motorcycle." I emphatically told her to tell them to stop and wait for rescue and EMS. Rescue ended up cutting off the clutch lever and transporting the kid to hospital. She underwent surgery. That was 1982. Just last year, I met the lead rescue officer and the girl herself, now fully grown. They wanted to meet the 911 operator that saved her vision.


A Members Only Club?

18 year old took mephedrone and attacked his mother with a knife. She locked herself in the bathroom and called 999 (UK here). We turn up and the son is butt @ss naked climbing out the window in the front door which he'd smashed. He gets taken to the ground and cuffed. Me and another manage to crawl through the window without cutting ourselves and find mother inside. Place is covered in blood smeared up the walls and every knife from the kitchen bloodied and discarded round the house.

The adrenaline is just starting wear off as the paramedics arrive for Mum and as they're treating her, we go to the kitchen and find a dismembered..... member.... sat on the worktop. Turns out the kid had cut his own penis off after his Mum locked herself in the bathroom. If you google meow meow (slang name for mephedrone) one of the first results is an article about this call in Rolling Stone magazine, although they say he was hanging out the bedroom window and he [wasn't.]

But yeah, I will never forget holding a penis that was not attached to somebody. Not having to utter the words "whose penis is this?" "Does he have a penis" and "wait, don't forget his penis!" (The ambulance almost left with him while we still had it in the house)


A Chance To Prove Yourself

I do Search and Rescue work.

Got a call to respond to a missing lady in her 60s, gone overnight. Police had been searching for hours with no luck, so by the time I got there she had been missing for over 16 hours.

This was my K9s first search ever, so I was super nervous but also proud that we could help. The police kept trying to hold me to a small 10 acres set of woods but my gut said trust my dog, she wasn't there.

The police officer got angry with me and decided to go back to the 10 acres while I continued with my K9 into a new area. 5 mins later my dog gives an alert and I watch which way she went. I climbed over a huge tree to find the lady standing there in shock. She went passed out as soon as I said who I was and asked her what her name was.

After years of being told I was wasting my time, my dog was sh!t, and if I wanted to do SAR I should get a real dog, it was the most amazing feeling in the world. My K9 is almost retired, has multiple finds and a recovery under her paws now, and she is just simply amazing.


Hearing The Terror

a mother called because her kid pulled a pot of oil off the stove and it spilled on his face.

she said she could see the skin peeling off his face.




Duly noted. I can't believe this hasn't occurred to me as a parent of an infant who's learning to walk.


Find Me...

Working as a deputy sheriff. Got a 911 call to the local park for a dead body. Got there and this lady with a flashlight waved us down. As we approached we yelled out asking if she was the caller. She said yes. We yelled out again where is the body. She said right here, pulled out a gun, and killed herself right in front of us. She wanted to make sure we found her body before the kids showed up the next morning to play in the park.


Unable To Let Go

This isn't mine, but a friend of mine fielded this call. An elderly gentleman called 911 to notify them that his wife had passed in her sleep. Only it was like 7 o'clock at night. Apparently he just couldn't deal with it emotionally, so he got her dressed, took her out to the car, and drove around doing his errands for the day. Watched some TV together. And then after 12 or so hours he finally sort of accepted that she was gone and called 911.


A Slow Descent Into Awful

Man called to report a male was breaking into his neighbors vehicle across the street. A few minutes into the call the man came and started to break into the callers vehicle. A few minutes later the man spotted my caller and broke into his house from the window. Spent 10 minutes listening to physical fight when I finally heard the police enter the house and say "there's blood everywhere." Both intruder and caller died. Oh, and another 911 dispatcher had my callers wife and kids on another line who were hiding upstairs and heard everything.

I talked a lot of people who were shot/stabbed/beaten in the final moments of their lives but you usually get them after the situation occurred. This caller was just trying to look out for his neighbor and I spent a good 15-20 minutes bantering while waiting for officers to arrive and get the auto thief. Getting to joke around and get to know someone's personality before they violently die hit a lot different than taking a call after violence had occurred.


A Quiet Handling Of The Truth

Someone called stating they had seen a man on a small island on the lake hours ago but now the man was gone and his boat is still out there.

An older woman called in a half hour later stating her husband had gone missing, he was last seen taking his boat out on the lake sometime overnight. The increasing tension in her voice as she noticed sheriff's deputies were already dredging the lake was something else. She was calm but clearly actively dealing with the fact her husband was likely dead. They found his body not long after I hung up with her.

Sometimes it's the people screaming that get to you, sometimes its the quiet acceptance of a horrible truth that stays with you longer.


Muscle car

Memorial Day, 1989. FF/EMT at the time. Call dispatched as a "car into a telephone pole." When we got there, I couldn't believe the carnage. A HS student had been given a muscle car as a birthday present. The police later estimated he was going over 90mph when he hit the pole head-on.

Patient's right femur was about six inches long, his patella almost touching his pelvis. The entire long bone had compressed like an accordion. He had other multiple injures. Took us two hours to cut him out of the car. The medics were pumping him so full of drugs to maintain his blood pressure they started to openly worry that they might f*ck his kidneys up.

We finally got him out of the car (only time I've ever seen a KED used) on a gurney and took off for the hospital. Medic had two large-bore IVs going, and had a BP cuff wrapped around one of the bags to create his own "rapid infuser."

The kid lived. He ended up losing the foot on the leg that was destroyed, and that leg (from what I heard months later) was more metal than flesh.


Until the end

Not a 911 responder, but I will never forget about hearing this one in my area. Student housing in the city's center wasn't up to code, someone left something burning in the clothing store below and a huge fire broke out. One student was still inside and couldn't get out because there was no fire escape. Trapped. He called 911. She stayed with him till the end.



I remember odd things people say under stress...

A girl's arm was ripped to shreds in a dog mauling, she kept using the word "meat". "There's shredded meat everywhere!" And she continued to say it as she found pieces of her arm on the ground. "Is that a piece of my meat?!" and "Huhuhu, omg it's my meat!!"

Some others...

"I brought you the asparagus. The asparagus!!" -guy who came back from the market to find his partner dead.



Little 4-year-old girl got ran over by her grandmother with a lawnmower that was on. It was not the gore or the blood that got me, it was the utter panic of the family, and the way they broke down when the helicopter took off with her inside.



I'm not a first responder anymore but one of my first arson cases was an absolutely hilarious disaster. This husband and wife hated each other but didn't want to get divorced. What they did want was a new house.

So they poured kerosene on approximately 60 rags and stuffed them under the end table next to the couch. Then placed an empty kerosene lamp on the end table.

Then they took a 5 gallon gas can full of gas, took the spout off, and placed it in their master bedroom closet. Their completely devoid of all clothing master bedroom closet except for two jackets with tassels with the price tags still on them. Then they opened all their safes and left them empty and open in the middle of the bedroom.

Then they took all the pictures out of the house and replaced them with random photos they printed off the internet.

Then they removed the televisions and replaced them with old tvs. They put the flat-screen televisions in their barn.

Then they poured a clear trail of gasoline down the hallway.

Their alibi was that on the day of the fire, they were trying to sell their canoe. They finally got a buyer, but the only time they could meet the buyer was at 3 am that night. So they drove 2 hours away to sell a canoe at 3 am the very same night. They then tried to claim the unlit, non electric kerosene lamp must have exploded. Then they claimed that their c neighbors were trying to frame them for arson. Then the husband claimed that his wife was trying to frame him for arson. Then he claimed that Sears was trying to frame him for arson because they were tired of paying his settlement after being injured at work 25 years prior.

It was a good time.


Woman holding up an Oxford English Dictionary
Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash

There is so much to learn in the world, it's impossible for one person to know absolutely everything there is to know.

But there are certain things, like common phrases and idioms, that everyone seems to use that might be a little embarrassing to not understand until later in life.

Keep reading...Show less
Newborn baby crying
Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash

While starting a family and having children is a goal that many people have, some do not realize that it's not easy, fun, and loving one-hundred percent of the time. Rather, it's expensive, exhausting, and hard, though it might be worth it in the end.

With this in mind, people shared what they felt were the hardest hurdles of their parenting.

Keep reading...Show less
A couple making out in the kitchen
We-Vibe Toys/Unsplash

Positive emotions are high among people in the blossoming phase of relationships.

Everything seems more romanticized for people in love due to the amorous joy in their hearts–which also influences their desire to frequently get it on under the sheets–or any other daring location in the heat of the moment.

But for those who've declared "'til death do us part," devoted couples may find that they are not always on the same wavelength sexually compared to when they first met.

Keep reading...Show less
Photo by John Thomas on Unsplash

There are a number of things people partake in spite of the known possible ramifications they have on their health and safety.

Up to and including smoking, bungee-jumping, recreational drug use, or simply bike riding without a helmet.

Indeed, even though they know that doing any or all of these things could possibly lead to their death, they do it anyway.

Sadly, even though many people go out of their way to avoid doing these things for that very reason, that still doesn't mean they keep themselves completely out of danger.

Sadly, there are a surprisingly large number of things that lead to an even more surprising number of deaths each year.

Frighteningly, these are things that the majority of the world's population does on an almost daily basis.

Keep reading...Show less