Operators responding to 911 calls have the unenviable task of trying to keep distressed callers from panicking.
With requirements of the profession including efficient problem-solving under pressure and having excellent telecommunications skills, they are the unsung heroes of an emergency response team, and they are ready to take your call during a major crisis.
However, not all calls are emergencies.
Redditor CommunistWaffle990 asked strangers on the internet:
From a guy burning his tongue on a baked potato, to a ghost sighting in the attic, the responses did not disappoint.
Ready to put face to palm?
"July 1996 a dust storm blew in and at least 20 people called 9-1-1 to report aliens. Yes, the dust storm did look exactly like the one in the movie Independence Day that was just released. No, aliens were not invading."
"Police despatch in the UK. Had someone call in because 2 squirrels were fighting in her back garden 'no, we don't arrest squirrels.'"
"On a similar vein, had a recent immigrant call, had a strange & deadly creature in the back garden. On arrival, turns out to be a hedgehog."
"Also had woman hysterically call in about a snake in her toilet. Turned out to be big poo !"
"Firefighter here. Here are a few actual calls we have been started to:"
"Popcorn in the eye. Ghost in the attic."
"Possible smoke in the house (turns out the caller was crying which made things blurry so they thought it was smoke)."
"Adult with leg stuck in laundry shoot."
"Caller dropped a cigarette on the garage floor and didn't know what to do."
"Fried chicken was too dry."
"Leg through the floor while on the toilet."
Search, Not Rescue
"Here in the UK someone called the emergency services because he couldn't find the TV remote."
"When I was 3 years old my dad said I could do anything I wanted for my birthday. I took it literally, and called 911."
She Didn't See Clearly
"Not an operator, but back when I was 20, I was at a party where a girl called 911. I went with my roommate to this party and we both crashed there. At the end of the night, he realized he forgot his contact lenses case at home, so he took a shot glass, filled it with water and put his contacts in. A few minutes later, the girl came into the room and saw the shot glass and downed it thinking it was vodka. When my roommate woke up and told he what she did, she got all panicked and called 911. I passed out before they arrived so I'm not sure what happened."
Wait For It...
"At the height of lockdown in the UK I was sent to a lady who called for an emergency ambulance as her 'sex drive was too high.'"
"Also on my list of stupid calls:"
"Guy in his late 30's who burnt his tongue on a baked potato."
"Someone who has had pain in their knee for 30 years (decided at 3am that this was the time to get it sorted.)"
"A man in his 40's who had a nightmare. A guy who thought he might feel unwell later."
"Man who scratched his testicle in the night with his long fingernail. No blood."
Call Of Shame
"I'm the one who called... I got lost in a hotel in the middle of the night after hooking up with some dude and ended up in their inner courtyard with everything locked. The receptionist told me he couldn't find me and to call the cops. They had to get me out of there. SO embarrassing. First thing I did when they picked up was apologize."
Racoon In A Tree
"Bit late to the party, but I am a 911 operator so I've got that going for me."
"My personal favorite was the guy that called in because there was a racoon in a tree in his yard. It should be noted that I dispatch for a low density county and medium density small city."
"Me: Sir, what is it doing? Is it acting aggressive?"
"Racoon guy: No, he's just in my yard."
"Me : ... so what is the issue, what do you want done?"
"RG: I want someone to come get it. It shouldn't be here!"
"Me: Sir... raccoons.... live in trees."
"RG: But I live in the city!"
She Was Lit
"Had someone call in screaming that they were on fire. Sounded legit, I've heard a lot of different screams, including another of someone actually on fire, and this one sounded like one of those 'im actually dying' screams. I tried everything I could to get them to calm down, stop drop and roll, literally anything but she just kept screaming. When the fire department eventually got there she calmed down and I was able to hear her tell them that her crotch was on fire after she had sex with her neighbor....."
"I had one call on Thanksgiving that their oven was locked and they could not get their turkey out... it was really busy that night and we instructed them to turn the oven off and we could head over when we could."