Emergency Operators Reveal The One Phone Call They'll Never Forget
Emergency operators face the unthinkable every day - even live suicides and murder which they hear over the phone. Some wish they could forget, but many can't.
Megan39616 asked, 911 operators of Reddit, what is the one phone call you will never be able to forget?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Seems like something you'd want to forget.
I heard a homicide / Suicide in real time. Guy wanted to get help for his suicidal son, and the son came out of the bedroom with a gun and shot the dad and then himself.
A preschool-aged boy with the most precious little voice telling me his daddy wasn't moving. He didn't know his address, only that he lived in a house with a green door. During the time it took to find where he was at and send help, he was telling me about his morning - his dad had told him to get his shoes on because it was 'take your child to work' day. He came back from putting on his shoes and found his dad on the bathroom floor. He was so brave and so helpful answering my questions. Turns out that Dad had overdosed and passed away.
I have a daughter that was the same age as the little boy when I took that call so it hit extra hard.
Man oh man.
We had a call from a guy who simply said:
"My address is XXXXX and I'm going to kill myself"
Then a loud gunshot. Then silence.
He just wanted someone to find his body.
Ex 000 operator (Australia's version of 911).
One of the funniest ones I had was someone drunk off their face stumbling on and off the streets while wearing a Spongebob Square Pants costume.
Final Destination situation.
Friend was an EMT for many years. He was on scene at an accident where a low-slung sports car went off the highway, into an embankment and up again. Long story short, the car hit into the "cable barriers" that are along the sides of the highway in some spots. The driver hit it at such a high rate of speed, the cable decapitated him. My friend had to go find the head (which ended up being about 50' away from the crash site).
Not much got to him in that job, but that one did...
Oh she quit, you don't say.
My cousin had to listen to her dad shoot himself. She was a 911 dispatcher and he stayed on the line (and didn't know it was her) and she heard him shoot himself. Then she had to go and identify the body since it was so bad. She quit after that.
Lots of what you think: nasty CPR calls, bad wrecks, shootings, stabbings, fires (though as bad as it sounds those are the most fun for multiple reasons)
For some reason I'll never forget this call was when this chick's boyfriend just walked up to her car at a stop sign and unloaded all 6 shots of a .22 revolver into her window. She was so confused as to why he did it. Luckily her wounds weren't bad she only had some small holes in her arm and shoulder. The worst part was she just wouldn't talk to the cops. This guy tried to kill her and she wouldn't talk to them because "I love him, I ain't snitching". We got her to the hospital and we we're getting info from her she listed him (name, address, and phone #) as her contact. The cop who came to get her info and return her purse was writing as fast as he could. He (the boyfriend) got caught by the SWAT team. I think he's awaiting trial, it was a really busy night after that.
That reminds me of a call my husband did (EMT). They had a call for a woman with an altered state. They arrive, and she's in her underwear, speaking gibberish. She had thick, curly hair. While Husband and his partner were checking her out, they looked in her hair and found something. Brain matter. The boyfriend who called had been cleaning his gun and shot her in the head by accident. She lived, and, as far as Husband knows, is healthy. I think the boyfriend went to jail for a bit.
Paramedic and dispatcher. 100% the lady who woke up in the middle of the night to her house full of smoke. Ran into garage to find husband fully engulfed. Fell smoking a cigarette and couldn't get back up. Dude was strait up seared into the ground. When we moved the body it looked like the bottom of the frying pan when you burn something. Smelled foul.
Pay your bills.
I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I took a call from a woman whose husband went out to the corner shop and came back a few minutes later on fire. He owed a lot of money apparently, and the loan shark had got sick of waiting.
Dead babies, abusive people, suicides, homicides, sexual assaults. One twisted sack of garbage who's partner killed her child so she called 911 with a very obvious lie. He then got out of jail and beat another woman's child almost to death.
All calls are unforgettable. Everyone has their problems. This job is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. We cry a lot.
Source: am 911
I am 23 years old currently and was working in 911 dispatch earlier this year. However, when I was 14 we lost a class mate who was playing in the river with his friends in the local river. There was a spot where one could swim under some quarry rocks and come up into an air pocket. He went down with his friends but never came back up. His body washed down the river and was found 1 mile downriver by some guy walking his dog. They showed me a lot of sample calls in my job and I will never forget the one from that day that boy drowned where I could hear my friend approach a woman and ask her if he could call 911 (back then we didn't all have cellphones) and when she allowed him to call the dispatch people sounded so bitchy and annoyed.. they questioned him where he was and wouldn't hear him explain (very panicked) what happened but he was just 14, he had no way to describe where he was other than "spot on the river everyone goes to" and he got more and more frustrated until he said "F*ck this!" And ran toward the river again to try to find his friend.... Another call I won't forget was a father calling in at 8 A.M. to report his one month old baby had passed away in it's sleep (likely SIDS). The man called, calm as can be, said "My baby is dead." And set the phone down and you could just hear him breathing while the dispatcher freaked out and kept asking if he wanted to try CPR.
Went to a house fire a few months ago with reports of someone still inside. By the time we got there, the house was nearly fully involved and live ammunition was going off, which made entry impossible. Once the fire had been knocked back, we began searching. I was digging through a tangled mess of burned structural components and furnishings, kind of walking/crawling over things trying to find the victim. Dirt and soot kept covering my mask, making visibility low. I reached out and felt something that felt a little different, almost spongy. I looked down and saw a pinkish colored "thing" that did not resemble a body at all. At this point, I was practically on top of it, and I was feeling all over trying to decide what it was. My face was about six inches from it since visibility was a challenge. I suddenly saw teeth and a necklace, then I knew what it was. The arms were gone, and I'm not sure if the legs were gone or just buried under something. Turns out intestines are moist enough that they sometimes stay somewhat intact, and that's what I had been putting my hands into.
When you're done, you're done.
When I was a coastguard officer part of my job was answering emergency phone calls from the public- in my day the coastguard worked differently from the other emergency services: incident commanders and the people answering the 'phones were the same folk.
You could be the dude in command of a SAR operation involving dozens of ships and aircraft in the morning and after lunch you'd be taking a call from a concerned tourist from London who's never seen a seal having a nap before and wants to put it back in the water.
It was weird, but it was great.
I remember with absolute clarity a great many of the calls I took, including the one where I realised that ten years was enough and I couldn't work there any more. It wasn't even the worst incident we'd dealt with, not by a long shot, but it was the caller's age and the fact that I was still struggling with my noggin after a number of very unpleasant incidents in the months prior where we'd failed to save a lot of people and I'd done what I always do and mentally assumed complete and sole responsibility for their deaths.
It was a little girl crying that her friend had been swept out to sea. I kept her talking while we got a helo and lifeboat out. Several times she thought her friend had drowned and did that scream that people do. I've heard it lots from adults, but never from a child.
The lifeboat guys got the girl- some guy on his first ever shout jumped in and grabbed her- and all was well in the end, but I was done.
I went and hid in the heads and had a bit of a meltdown. Like, full-on Russell-Crowe-in-Gladiator blubbing with snot everywhere and everything.
That was the day I realised once and for all that I needed to be back out on the ground, kicking doors and getting shit done.
Which is why I spent part of last night up a ladder squirting water on some guy's house.
EDIT: Missing words because shaky hands.
Sobbing, he said "get them here." He then said his address. I repeated back the address, and he said again "Please get them here." I asked his name and he sobbed harder and repeated "Just get them here." He hung up the phone. I called back, and no answer. Attempted 4 more times and no answer. I then looked up names associated with the address and saw it was a local law enforcement officer. My partner dispatched it, and units pended it. I told my partner to please have the units look at the call. They then went en route. When they arrived, they found him with a self-inflicted gsw to his head. With his service pistol. I was the last person to ever talk to him. I have never heard anyone sound like he did. I tried to get him to stay on the phone with me.
Not much good can come from dwelling on the past.
Even so, no matter how hard we try to avoid doing so, we can't help but look back on things we've done in our lives which we regret.
In some cases, it's nothing which had any sort of lasting effect, like wishing we thought more carefully about where we had a birthday or spending more than we could afford on an outfit that didn't end up paying off.
In sadder cases though, we often wonder what our lives might have been like if he had made a different, and smarter decision.
If we didn't say certain things to certain people, not spoken up when someone needed us to or rushed too hastily into a life we weren't ready for.
"What is one thing you regret doing in life?"
Giving People Attention Who Didn't Deserve It
"Wasting time worrying about people that never spared me a single thought."- Eborys
Getting In With The Wrong Crowd
"I regret making friends with people who I knew were bad for me just because it was easier than becoming friends with good people."
"Now I don't have many solid friends."- misswallflowerr
Staying In, When They Should Have Gotten Out
"Not ending bad/unhealthy/unfulfilling relationships sooner."- Superseriouslyguys
"Hanging on to a relationship for too long."
"I should have up and disappeared the first time he was disrespectful."- Mirrorflute88
Not Taking Enough Risks
"Not putting myself out there enough."
"I probably missed out on a lot of opportunities because I'm so self-conscious."
"Working on this though!"- Fife_Flyer
"Not following my dreams and ended up sitting behind a desk for 30 years."
"Of course, I'm currently on Reddit sitting behind my desk."
"So, there's that."- CatOnTheHill
"Overthinking my way out of potentially rewarding choices."- mmmmike1590
Rushing Into Things
"Going to college before I had the slightest idea what I wanted to do with my life."- Mysterious_Shake2894
Taking Things For Granted
"Not spending more time with my mom."
"I visited her 2-3 times a week but still, there were other times she'd call and I'd ignore the call or tell her I didn't have time to talk."
"Would give anything to go back and take every one of those calls."- Fruitjustlistens
Putting Their Health At Risk
"Most of 2019–addiction bottom."
"Sober now for 432 days and counting."- CommunicationTop5231
"20 years spent on expensive, self-fed poison."
"Biggest regret of my life, by far."- Itsprobablysarcasm
"Mentally exhausting myself at work for companies that turned out to not give a sh*t about me or value my work."- fpuni107
"Being too nice to tell undeserving people to f*ck off when I should've been putting myself first."
"Lessons learned."- MrsHppy
Not Having Enough Fun
"So, this is gonna sound kinda dumb, but I kinda wish I had acted out a bit more."
"Taken more risks, gotten in trouble more, explored and pushed my boundaries."
"I was pretty sheltered growing up and really wanted to be this good person."
"It created a lot of conflicting feelings for me."
"It also contributed to me avoiding doing some stuff cause I thought it'd be bad for me."
"Now that I'm older and worked through some of those issues, I feel like I missed out on a lot of stuff other people got in their teens and 20s."
"I'm now at a point where I'm exploring that, but most people my age have already gone through it."
"I just feel like I'm trying to 'catch up' with everybody."- animewhitewolf
It's only human to look back on things we regret, or wish we had done differently.
But living in the past will only keep us in the past.
The only way to move forward and make progress is to accept the present for what it is: a present.
Serving in the military is not for the faint of heart.
There are so many dangerous aspects to the job.
When people discuss it, we think about war and the sacrifice people make with their lives.
But there is a ton of scandal involved with the military.
Over the years, so much information has leaked about bad behavior and just everyday nonsense.
Just because a person becomes a soldier doesn't mean they're perfect.
Redditor AdRealistic03 wanted to discuss the shocking things we've all learned about our armed forces, so they asked:
"What are some NSFW secrets about the military?"
The military is littered with secrets, and I love secrets. Tell me more...
Hey GirlFight Dance GIF by tv2norgeGiphy
"Been in for a long while now, the most apt descriptor I've heard:"
"'Gayest bunch of straight dudes you'll ever meet.'"
"Our Air Force’s most critical asset, nuclear weapons, are primarily guarded by a bunch of really bored teenagers."
"Navy is the same. The guy that Naruto runs to the galley is the same one that stands watch over the nuclear reactor."
"Lowest ranks pull guard duties more often."
"Who's the lowest rank? That baby faced 18 year old who just joined up."
"Guard duties are up there as one of the most bone taskings going."
The Side Hustle
"Sometimes the guy that administers the drug test is the same one that you get the drugs from."
"I was our unit's drug test guy. I smoked weed every day because I obviously would not drug test myself. I was also really good at it so they wouldn't give the job to someone else. I could get our tests done and completed without mistakes in like 1/5 of the time of my predecessor. Didn't sell drugs, but I've given plenty away."
"Swingers exist on every single base in the world, in Sigonella, they would use different boxes of detergent in the windows to show what they were into and what age range they were looking for. Patrolling the housing area became much more interesting when you see who lives in the houses and what they’re into."
Multi-PurposeHungry Labor Day GIF by BounceGiphy
"The food boxes that come in literally say 'For prison and military use only.'"
"My husband was watching a documentary with people in prison and was like hey we have the same blankets on the ship."
No matter who eats it, it's been said nobody thinks any of that food tastes good.
How many?Oh My Reaction GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
"I was selected 6 times in a row to be a urinalysis checker. Have seen over 2000 penises involuntarily."
"The number of people who get sick and tired of being in the service who will go out and do some drug or another to get kicked out. During our Iraq/Afghanistan years, you wouldn't believe how many people would purposely pee hot or, females would intentionally get pregnant to get out of going."
"A friend of mine in the special forces told me since they are out in the field a lot, they get plenty of ticks. And while you can inspect yourself fairly well, you can’t inspect everything, so they pair up and spread their cheeks, and your mate has to stare into your anus to check you for ticks in there. Not very glamorous."
Health IssuesOkaay What GIF by ABC NetworkGiphy
"Looooooottttts of chlamydia."
"My unit in Okinawa had the highest STD rate for the island. I was so glad I wasn't a part of any of that."
"Our oceans are loaded with garbage. LOADED."
"I would watch the long trail of garbage follow my ship, in the wake, as crew dumped the s**t off the fantail. Every single day. Miles and miles of trash. And this was just one ship. This was just one nation. Our oceans are full of garbage that will take centuries to erode. Our waters are littered with sh*t that fish are eating and dying on."
Sounds like there is A LOT of fraternization in our Armed services.
Be careful out there.
Things People Learned From Their Parents That They Didn't Realize Were F**ked Up Until Later In Life
It's always nice to think that parents are doing everything they can to raise their children, but as humans, they're all going to make mistakes.
But as many people will discover, their parents also taught them some terrible lessons when they were young.
Redditor timdood3 asked:
"What did your parents teach you as a kid that you didn't realize was actually f**ked up until you were older?"
What Is Self-Love?
"In an effort to teach me to be considerate, or not selfish, I guess, my dad said, 'Love yourself last' more than a few times to me. That’s a mess I’ve been untangling for about 35 years."
"My mom told me that, on some buildings, there weren’t guard dogs but rather guard birds. These birds were trained to peck your eyes out if you trespassed. I believed this till I was 16 and have been afraid of birds ever since."
"My grandparents were morticians... I remember sitting on an embalming table, swinging my legs back and forth off the table, while watching my grandfather embalm someone and talk to me about what he was doing. I was seven."
"It's honestly a great memory and the many times I had with him like that taught me a lot about how to deal with death, how life is cherished, how different grief can be from person to person, and how to be emotionally strong for others."
"Good guy... Just was very desensitized to his work's more macabre parts."
"To add to this story, my grandparents were morticians for work, owning their own funeral home, but magicians as a hobby, frequently traveling with and training other magicians."
"When my grandfather passed away, we had a special service just for his magician friends. Some of the most famous magicians in the world showed up for the wand breaking, where my grandfather's wand was broken in two."
The Extensive Scapegoating
"For me, it was after they'd duped a child psychologist. I was in what? Second or third grade?"
"But I realized that they were so good at pretending to be the best people in the world that they could act as if I was the terrible one. They would always find a way to pass me as the monster instead of them."
"It didn't matter who I would have told."
"As a former scapegoat child, I can tell you, unequivocally, that you were never the problem. They were the monsters."
The Truth Behind Child Protective Services
"My mom somehow convinced me that 'child protective services' were the bad guys."
"Finding out (well into adulthood) that they take children away from biological parents' care only as an extreme last resort was a bit of a shocker."
"It also makes me wonder just how much she was doing, that she knew was f**ked up, and I just didn't bother remembering because it had always been that way for me."
Don't Be a Burden
"Do not ever be a bother to anyone. Solve all your problems by yourself."
"I feel this one. My parents paired it with 'always be accommodating to others.' Made it so I had very few boundaries and always tried to help others even when I didn't want to, but could never ask or accept help when offered. Not a great mix for the abusive relationships I faced as I got older."
"It really hit me when we were walking on a wide sidewalk. A group approached and my mom shoved me off onto the grass, even though the group had plenty of room. Your own kid gets body-checked so you don’t even have the appearance of slightly inconveniencing strangers."
"My oldest kid asked me once, just out of curiosity, 'How come you always have to hop off the path when people are coming? But they never do?'"
"That hit me like a sack of bricks. That it was that noticeable for my kid to pick up. I never made him move, but I always do. Even now. Hard habit to break."
"They made me distrust my own intelligence. They talked down to me and treated me like an airhead, giving me a smirk every time I tried to be serious about anything."
"It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that I am intelligent and gained self-confidence despite the negative self-esteem they had instilled in me."
Drinking and Driving
"My Dad told me he could drink beer in the car if he drank it while the car was stopped. It’s only drinking and driving if the car is in motion. I was like makes sense. I was around four."
"My dad got me a job when I was 18, so I'd drive in with him. On the way home, he would beeline for the liquor store. He'd drink a half pint and two Budweisers on a 30-minute ride home, three to five times a week. I thought this was just what people did after work on the way home. Crazy."
Building Credit and Credit Debt
"I was told, 'Don’t get a credit card.'"
"No one ever told me there’s no interest if you pay on time."
"I could’ve built my credit earlier, but they just didn’t want me to spend money I didn’t have and fall into debt with interest."
"Student Loan Debt, however… yeah that was highly encouraged by every adult around me…"
"My dad was 'teaching' me about credit cards and said you can just make the minimum payment every month. It blew my mind, and made it seem like free money. Thank god I didn’t take that advice. I pay my credit card off every month and he’s drowning in credit card debt."
Grief is Unacceptable
"If you’re sad, that means the devil is inside you and you need to pray for forgiveness."
"I was six, and my cat had just died."
"After arguing with a girlfriend and not speaking with her for a few days, BOTH my parents told me separately to hold onto my beef with her like a grudge and use it against her later."
"I've been married to the girlfriend now 25 years this year, never once took my parents' advice, and have NO IDEA how my parent's marriage survived, lol (laughing out loud)."
"I have a couple in my family like that. Any time I was at their house, without fail, they would be making passive-aggressive comments, sniping at each other, bringing up all sorts of past s**t, etc..."
"As a kid, I never looked forward to going to their place, because it was always incredibly awkward. Yet, they've been married for close to 50 years. It's like bitching at each other nonstop is their love language."
"My mom always said she was so happy the two of them found each other, if for nothing else than that it spared two other innocent people from having to put up with them."
"I always had anxiety as a child, and my mother said the only way to get over it is to deal with the situation head-on. Sounds great until I told her my fear of escalators and she pushed me down, and I fell and almost got my hair caught."
"Another thing she loved to teach me is how self-defense is necessary. Great! Where do I take lessons? There were no lessons.. she said being with my abusive ex was enough of a lesson. I should have learned then."
"My dad instilled crippling perfectionism in me, which I realized was insane when I got older and people told me to just 'do my best.'"
"When I was in grade school, I would come to my dad with A’s all super excited. But, if it was anything less than a 100%, he would ask for the missing percentage. So, when I had a 98%, he’d say, 'Well, where’s the 2%?' And now, if I do anything less than perfect, I beat myself up."
Make It Make Sense
"I was scolded for pouting, stomping my feet, and being sad. I ended up avoiding all of those when I grew up and became secretive about my emotions. Then, they would get mad at me for not opening up."
While we all like to think the best of our parents, many people have come to terms with the mistakes their parents made, including the false information they were given.
The problem with so much of this information is how hard it is to unlearn, and how deeply traumatizing it can be to discover we were traumatized.
People Break Down The Exact Moment They Realized They Were Dating An Idiot
Some people are not destined to be friends, and some are absolutely not compatible to date.
But sometimes we don't find that out until we're already dating them, and they reveal a belief they have that we feel is completely ridiculous.
Redditor Ghost7579ox asked:
"When did you realize that you’re dating an idiot?"
Issues with Big Brother
"She refused to pay taxes, have a bank account, or pay for public transit."
"She told me, 'I change my name every few years so they can't find me.'"
"Like, she'd go to the GOVERNMENT and change her name. Legally. So the GOVERNMENT couldn't find her."
"We broke up for other reasons, but this was the first red flag."
"She pre-heats the microwave."
"When I mentioned WW1, and she asked if that was why they called WW2 'THE SECOND WORLD WAR?!'"
"She had no idea there was a first one."
"Her parents also taught her that a guy masturbating and a girl having a period were basically the same thing as abortions. No wonder she was one of 11 siblings."
Not a Guitar Player
"It was in high school, but I got an acoustic guitar to try to learn. I asked my boyfriend who claimed to have played if he could tune it for me."
"This motherf**ker literally turned it all the tight that the f**king bridge ripped off and then acted like it was a piece of junk."
"It was a cheap guitar but he literally wasn't listening for the notes or anything and just turning away and acting shocked, when even I thought that's exactly what would happen not knowing anything about guitars."
Just Slow Down
"The cops regularly put a speed camera on a corner near his house. They have been doing it a couple of times a month for as long as he lived there, and he got caught by it many times."
"He was crying to me (literally) about how unfair the latest fine was and he had no money to pay it, I was fed up and told him to just slow down around that corner."
"I could tell from the look on his face he hadn't even considered that, and he got angry with me for not being sensitive enough."
Stick It to the Man
"She skipped going to community college classes to 'stick it to the professor'..."
"I had to explain that she had already paid to be there and the professor wouldn't care or notice."
"The day I told my girlfriend I think I broke my toe and her solution was to yank on it with all her might."
"It was gout."
"She was struggling with money and being able to save. I came home one day and she had a new 40k car in the driveway. She purchased it without even discussing it with me."
"She essentially sentenced herself to have no savings for the next five years when we were trying to save to buy a house together."
Gas Leak Roulette
"The night I said that I thought I smelled gas, and they grabbed a lighter and struck it without hesitation."
Sonic: The Horror Movie
"My ex was scared of hedgehogs and convinced himself they could jump over a six-foot fence like a cat."
The Knife Tip of Narcissism
"When I asked her to hand me a kitchen knife and she threw it at me (underhanded, but still)… and that’s not even the stupidest part."
"When I tried to explain the basics of handing someone a knife, or pair of scissors, she refused to accept that what she did was wrong or unsafe… It was suddenly apparent that she couldn’t possibly ever admit to being wrong."
Advertising's Version of 'Groundhog Day'
"An ex thought that commercials were recorded live, and the people on TV were employed to do them over and over again."
How the Cookie Crumbles
"She worked for a specialty decorated cookie shop at the mall. Like where you get those dinner plate-sized cookies with 'Get Well Soon' or whatever written in frosting."
"She texted me a picture from work, proudly showing me a cookie she had decorated for a customer. She was legitimately excited to show me her creation. I had not previously seen any of her masterpieces prior to this."
"Not only did the artwork look like a three-year-old's finger painting, but it said, 'CONRADULATINS,' which aside from the obviously bad spelling, she had clearly not even planned out the spacing in her head first, so it said, 'CONRADU,' across the whole cookie, and then, in tiny letters up the side, 'latins.'"
" She thought it came out pretty well. She was about 30 at the time."
"I'll be honest, I broke things off shortly afterwards because of that cookie."
"After her third 'business opportunity' turned out to be another pyramid scheme."
"We didn't date long but knew each other for a while before that. I liked her for her 'work hard, get paid' attitude. Turns out the hard work she was doing was costing her waaay more than she made, and didn't realize it."
"I broke down how pyramid schemes work to this one girl who got sucked into them all the time. Throughout my explaining, she said, 'That sounds like MLM,' like three times. After, we sat in silence. Can't see the forest for the trees comes to mind."
Inexperienced with... Weather?
"One night he turned to me and said, 'You're a bit of a scientist' (I was taking biology in high school, he was in college for music). 'Can you explain how I can take frozen yogurt from the freezer, put it in the fridge, and it melts?'"
"I, already concerned, replied, 'Well, the fridge is warmer. It's not cold enough to keep it frozen.'"
"He then asked, 'But it's still cold?'"
"And I had to explain that there are different levels of cold?"
"Somewhere along the way, I said, 'Cold is the absence of heat like darkness is the absence of light,' and he was so mindblown by that."
Not every relationship is meant to work out, but there are some that are more obviously destined to continue than others.
At least in most of these cases, the person was saved some time because of their partner's knowledge.