Anonymous 911 Dispatchers Reveal The Stupidest Calls They've Gotten On The Job
People do dumb things. Sometimes, 911 dispatchers have to bear the brunt of ill-conceived choices when they receive emergency phone calls from people who have no idea how 911 works. Here are some personal favorites from dispatchers, who shared the dumbest calls they've ever received. Bless.
Only in Florida.
Guy gets his truck stuck in the mud while out doing donuts at 3 AM and calls for help. Tell him he needs to pay a tow truck to winch him out. Guy gets angry and claims we are leaving him stranded in the dark (spooooky), tell him we can send an officer out to check on him if the area is unsafe. "Y'all got me f---ed up, I'm on probation and you tryin to send me back to jail!"
Tow truck arrives and while trying to winch him out, guy keeps taking off his clothes and trying to hook up with his girlfriend in the back seat...of the truck the driver is working on. Tow driver leaves. Guy calls back and is now VERY angry that tow driver didn't give his girlfriend a ride home, since he's gonna fight the cops when they show up. Additional officers were sent.
Calling the cops to ask permission to commit a crime... that's dumb. Also, meth is bad, don't do meth.
I had a woman call 911 to ask if it was legal to sell a baby.
I had a guy call to report information on a drug dealer because the dealer had sold him the wrong drugs. The guy said this was an ongoing issue and he had finally had enough.
Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result probably means you're doing it wrong.
Repo companies in the area report their repos to us, just in case the owner decides to try and report the car stolen. I started my shift that day logging several when one of the owners calls in. We take his info, confirm it matches, and let him know it was reported as repossessed and to contact his finance company.
A little while later, he calls 911 again to let us know that he paid it up to date and the address they gave him to pick up the car didn't exist, so he wanted to report it stolen. We again refer him to his finance company.
A few hours later, he called 911 again. He checked his onboard GPS signal and saw it listed his car in another city, the next state over. So he had driven there and searched the city, but didn't find it. So it had to be stolen. We again explain it was repoed and to continue speaking with his financial institution.
The day carries on, and we eventually get to the end of the shift. As we are wrapping everything up for our shift up before night shift gets in, he calls 911 again. He found the tow yard his car was stored at, but it was closed for the night. He needed us to open it for him so he could claim his car. We explain that it was a private business and the car wasn't stolen, so we can't just bust in and take his car, he will have to claim the car once they are open in the morning. He was so moved by our logic that he decided..... to try reporting it as stolen again.
I thought demons lived in fire...
Some lady wanted the fire department to come burn her house down because she thought a demon lived in it. I sent paramedics and police to check on her but I told her we'd be happy to burn her house down in a controlled training capacity if she wanted to donate it, but there was a lot of paperwork to get that started.
That frontier spirit hard at work.
"I'm super drunk and I got run over by a sled." Now in northern Alberta typically this would mean a snowmobile and potentially life-threatening injuries. No, no. His kid hit his ankle bone with a wooden toboggan. Didn't even have a bruise.
Ha, "piping" hot. Get it?
My husband used to dispatch before he was old enough to go to the police academy. We lived in a small town, ranked 3rd most dangerous in our state. Lots and lots of drug use. There was a woman who was honestly crazy. I don't know if she had mental problems before the drugs or if the drugs fried her brain but she was a regular caller. Some of her calls- she called to report a break-in because she fell asleep with her blanket wrapped around her but when she woke up it was bundled at her feet. She called one summer night (routinely got over 115 degrees in the summer) and said that she had walked 3 Miles from her apartment and needed a ride back because she was barefoot and her feet hurt. He asked her where her shoes were and she said she was carrying them. She walked 3 miles and didn't think to put them on.
Another call wasn't stupid but still stuck with me. It was a domestic violence call and when he asked what was going on the woman yelled: "he threw a piping hot chicken pot pie at me!" Something about her attention to detail I just thought was funny in an unfunny situation
Stop? More like slow.
3 am. Got a call about a suspicious vehicle outside of her house. I start getting the description and get my officers en route when she says "They're leaving!" I get the direction they are headed and relay it; I've got 4 officers converging like a net on this guy.
Now that I've got a moment I ask the woman: "What exactly did they do?"
She replies: "They just stopped at the stop sign for a moment and then they moved on...."
PSA: don't deep fry a frozen turkey, you will have a bad time.
1) Every Thanksgiving you'll always get the person who calls because they don't know how long to cook a turkey. Never fails.
2) Every Thanksgiving someone always puts a frozen turkey in a deep fryer - usually in a trailer home - and a fire "surprisingly" occurs.
3) People who have warrants on themselves love calling to complain and ask to see the police in person for a dispute. They don't seem to remember we look up everyone in the dispute, not just the accused.
Ok, I have questions.
A lady ran over herself with her own car. She called to let us know she was okay.
This was fall of 2012. Hope she's uh, still doing okay.
Edit: Damn, that blew up. For those wondering, this was in CA. The lady was calm, laughed nervously/embarrassed a couple times, absolutely refused any type of response (even Quiet from the FD), and didn't say how it happened.
We took down her info, gave the typical Safety Admonishment, told her to call back if she needed to.
This level of petty is inspirational, not sorry.
Once my dad got a call from the 911 dispatch. At first, he was really confused because he didn't call them in the first place. They asked
"Sir do you have a daughter?"
"Well, she just called and claimed you broke her heart!"
Apparently, my sister got in trouble when she was about 5 or 6 and called 911 claiming "My daddy broke my heart." She hung up in embarrassment after the dispatcher began laughing.
1 2 3 4 5. How are these people alive?
I've been a dispatcher for about 7 years now in a medium size county in Florida.
- Every year on July 4th and New Years we get calls about gunshots. Every single time the caller is perfectly convinced they're gunshots and couldn't possibly be fireworks. They'll say they hear automatic weapons or my personal favorite "rapid-fire shotguns". And every single time a deputy goes out to investigate, it turns out to be the unlikely culprit of fireworks.
- I had one woman call 911 to tell me she found a cell phone on the ground. That's it.
- Irate elderly male calls 911 while standing in the Sheriff's Office lobby to report the clerk not being helpful. When I told him that's not something you use a 911 line for, he went apesh_t, going as far as threatening to break into the office and shoot me. He was subsequently arrested.
- Male was arrested for domestic battery, called 911 from the backseat of the patrol car and stated he was being unlawfully imprisoned. When I told him the only thing I could do for him was to send him more deputies, he said "...no thanks" and hung up. He then proceeded to call three more times looking for a different answer. We told the deputies on scene, they took his phone away and added a charge of misuse of 911.
- Had a woman call in stating she accidentally took too much melatonin. She started getting hysterical when she felt the effects of her overdose. She was getting sleepy.
Blast this pesky contraption!
I'm not a 911 dispatcher but I'm a central station operator (I'm the lady that asks what your password is when your alarm goes off)
Been at my job 5 years. My favorite call ever was the second call I made to the house of an old couple, their alarm had gone off about 30 min prior, they weren't sure why the alarm was sounding so they asked me for the police to be dispatched. On the second call, the wife answered the phone, gave me all the correct information and then passed the phone to the officer. The alarm was still sounding but there was another weird beep in the background. We walked the owners through shutting their system off but this beep was still going off. The officer was getting frustrated and the homeowners weren't sure why the alarm as still sounding so they wanted me to shut the alarm down. I told him that our system was shut off and the beeping wasn't from us. The officer then went looking for the sound. He found out it was their alarm clock sounding. I swear I heard him roll his eyes through the phone and I tried my best not to laugh. He handed the phone back to the older couple who still had no idea what was going on but said the officer told them everything was okay.
Tldr: old couple has us dispatch PD because of strange beeping noise. Officer arrives to find out it was their alarm clock.
Come on, really...
Too many to count. If I had to pick a favorite I'd have to choose the time a concerned citizen called in an animal stuck in a tree. That animal...was a bird.
Ohhh you have warrants? Yes, we will definitely give you a ride.
Got a call from a woman in the wee hours of the morning, clearly drunk and slurring.
She says : "I wan shu to send an ocifer to mah housh and takh me to the bar, wait while ah git drunk, an then takh me home."
Me: "Ma'am I think you are looking for a taxi service."
Her: Well you guys shushpended mah license!"
Her: "Okay! Ah'm ready! Come n' git me!"
Me: Ma'am, I already told you, we are not a taxi..."
Her: "AH GOTS WARRANTS!"
Me: "Oh, well in that case..."
They said she fought like a prizefighter.
"Her hands are all blue...our caller never even noticed" that her neighbor had blown her brains out.
We have a call that every new trainee at my county listens to during training because it highlights how completely oblivious our callers can truly be. A neighbor enters her friend's house because she's not answering the door. She finds the patient on the couch sleeping. She calls 911 because she's not waking up. She says "She's not moving, not answering me or waking up. It looks like she has been cooking with blueberries, her hands are all blue." Operator already knows that means she's dead. We send everyone out, EMS arrives on scene first and immediately backs out. According to the deputy that arrived right after, she had a gun in hand, shot herself in the head and it splattered ALL over the wall behind her. Our caller never even noticed.
All crustaceans matter!
Working right now. My favorite call of all time was up in arms about lobsters being reserved at the local grocery store. He had a fit and called back a few times. Screaming and crying from the Seafood counter in a store I used to work for. I eventually sent an officer. Threw an even bigger fit in the store. Dinner was canceled and lobster man spent a night in jail. I called my old co-worker to get the play by play from inside the store.
"Most 911 calls are pretty dumb." Yeah, kinda picked up on that.
Going to let you in on a secret. Most 911 calls are pretty dumb, and not emergencies. I work overnight so most of the time the calls we get are pretty legit. But occasionally...
I've had the guy call in because he was looking at the weather radar and said that law enforcement, NOAA, and the CIA were covering up the fact that the storm he was looking at was going to destroy the city. There was no storm. There was no rain or wind. It was clear outside, had been for weeks and remained that way for weeks afterward.
Another woman called in because she said someone broke into her home and was now currently sitting on her couch looking at his phone. She said some noise woke her up and she saw the light from his phone when she opened the bedroom door. I asked the usual questions including if she had a dog and whether it was alerted to the noise. She said the dog was asleep on the bed and that he usually barks at strange noises (huge clue that nothing is happening, most dogs will alert to strange noises at night). Officer goes on scene doesn't see anything. Turns out the light she saw was from one of those electronic picture frames, that she owned, and knew about.
Another break-in call. Woman calls at around 2:30 in the morning. Says she heard someone knocking on her door and heard some noises outside. I've got 2 or 3 officers headed her way. Through our conversation, I find out she is hiding in the closet. Then, I ask when the last time she heard or saw something strange. She gets very quiet and says that she last heard something at around 11 pm. Turns out she had been working up the nerve to call 911, sitting in the closet for 3 and a half hours.
These are some of the more memorable ones I've had recently.
Well that's one way to Escape the Room...
I'm not a 911 dispatcher, however, I have a funny story involving my work and a 911 call. I work as a Game Master for an Escape Room company. We have a particular room that involves a phone, in which you need to input the correct phone number into it to progress in the room. It's not a real phone. But, one of the players had said, "Dial 911." Their Apple watch then dialed 911. They apologized and said that they were "hostages" in an escape room. Luckily the dispatcher understood they were playing a game and not real hostages.
For those wondering, if you input 911 into the phone in that room, it will say something along the lines of "You are unable to make the call as dialed."
Oh man I definitely don't want my phone passed around after I die.
A friend of mine wasn't 911 dispatch but he is an officer who had to work a desk for a period of time.
He got these two calls in successive days:
Day 1: "I can't find my lotto ticket and I'm sure I won!"
Day 2: "I live in Canada, but I got a text from your area code that I don't recognize and it says 'she's dead. How do we hide it?..."
The first call was dismissed. The second actually led to two arrests for murder
When you know you're screwed...
Answered a 911 call from a gentleman stating someone was chasing him. He had no idea where he was other than it was near the beach. I used the phase 2 location from his cell phone to start officers while I tried to get more information because English was not his first language and he seemed extremely panicked. He's in a vehicle and another vehicle was chasing him. I heard sirens in the background and asked him if he knew who was chasing him. He said yes that it was border patrol and he was scared and refused to pull over for them. I convinced him to pull over for one of my officers and that was the end of it.
Tldr: illegal immigrant called 911 because border patrol was chasing him.
Worst. Three-way. Ever.
At around 7am we got a transfer call from California call to our 911 center stating that a woman and her husband were being assaulted in their home by a stranger. No other information was provided except for the address. No prior history on the address either.
About half a dozen officers set up a small perimeter around the house to prevent the suspect from running. A highly intoxicated male tries to run out into the backyard and ends up being tased and detained. Sounds pretty standard for the most part.
Turns out that the original female victim had tried to video chat her friend in California while hooking up with a stranger that she and her husband brought home from a club the night before. The stranger didn't like this, so he starts screaming and freaking out to end the call. To the person in California, it seemed like her friend was being assaulted, which she definitely was not. The husband was in the corner and when the officers tried to speak to him to clarify the situation, he was too embarrassed and refuses to cooperate. The guy who was tased was evaluated by EMS and everyone was free to go about their business once there was some clarity on the situation.
This kid is going places. Nowhere is a place.
I used to be an emergency call taker for an ambulance service in the UK (so, 999 rather than 911!). One call started like this:
"Ambulance Emergency, what is the nature of the emergency?" (distant echoey voice) "I'm stuck in a washing machine!"
I thought it was a prank call (we used to get a lot) but apparently not. The ambulance crew knew the address well - there was a guy in his late teens who lived there and his thing seemed to be to squeeze into small spaces when his parents were out. He always kept his mobile phone with him in case he got stuck, which was quite often.
The "Deep State" strikes again.
A very well spoken lady called me to say that someone had stolen her laptop while she was working in a leper colony in Chelsea, London. This lady called almost every day, usually to tell me that MI5 had put a chip in her brain to track her activities or that her assigned officer from the Royal Protection Group had not shown up for work. Funny that. Edited to add that I was a 999 call handler/dispatcher in London.
This is DEFINITELY how horror movies start.
Man called me twice, at 3:00 and 3:30-ish in the morning, to tell me about the "Swamp Things." He was so drunk, I almost sent someone out on a wellness check, just to make sure he didn't pickle himself to death (though to be fair, I suspect he had long experience).
He "Wanted it on record that if anyone hurt one of 'em, he was gone' have they a**." I assured him that I had entered that into the report in large letters (this was, in fact, true).
He ended the second call with, "I seen 'em when I was a kid, and they're back!" Helluva thing to hear at 3:30 am on a solo shift. That sh_t's how horror movies start.
Y'all know that one Hannah Montana song? “Everybody makes mistakes! Everybody has those days!" That's the song I sing to myself every time I accidentally burn myself while making ramen. It comforts me to know, however, that there are a lot of worse mistakes out there than some spilled ramen. Who knew?
In fact, some mistakes are so astronomical that they're remembered for decades afterwards, leaving the one who made the mistake a legacy of being a dumba**. Here are a few of them!!!
Some may argue that the existence of the Universe was a mistake. I disagree. It was clearly Zayn leaving One Direction. But these next few were pretty bad too.
If you do the math, this is also the reason why Hentai exists.
I'll say the wrong turn Franz Ferdinand's driver made that went right in front of Gavrilo Princip.
EDIT: yes I'm aware war may still have broken out even if Franz Ferdinand wasn't assassinated
Imagine you're Gavrilo Princip. The assassination plot you and your friends had been cooking up for about the last year or so has been a complete and total disaster, just a monumental f*ck-up of the highest degree. You're staked out at this deli thinking maybe, just maybe the car will pass by, and by some stroke of sheer luck, it does.
If you're Princip, this is nothing short of serendipity.
Petition to return to the ocean.Ocean Surf GIFGiphy
"Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans."
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." - Douglas Adams
This was, in fact, a monumental mistake.
Sears not beating Amazon to the punch.
Blockbuster not buying Netflix.
You thought THOSE were bad? Well gear up for their next few, because they are 100% accurate. Except the one about Cats, that movie slaps.
I don’t know sports, but sure.
Seahawks not running it.
I used to wear a Seahawks jersey whenever I took a test because I knew I would pass when I shouldn't.
CATS is great, y'all are just boring.Giphy
The Emoji Movie.
That live action movie about Cats is also up there.
Very fair point.
Humans are not wired to have that many social interactions and maintain that many relationships. Plus the echochambers it allows people to create for themselves, no matter how conspiratorial or vile their beliefs, means that stupid/evil people are no longer shunned into changing their mind.
Not sure it was worth being able to see what a celebrity had for lunch or what new "dance" your younger cousin and her tween friends are doing.
But in all seriousness, some horrible things may now have happened if the right thing was halted at the right time.
Washington called it.George Washington Disney GIF by Hamilton: An American MusicalGiphy
Voting for people based on what side of the political spectrum they're on. George Washington himself advised against political parties because he thought they would cause too much division in this country. Unfortunately for everyone, he was right.
Big oops on that one.
Barack Obama mocking Donald Trump at the Correspondents Dinner might have led directly to his 2016 run....
"Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald," Obama said. "And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?"
Then he turned serious: "But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of 'Celebrity Apprentice' — at the steakhouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn't blame Lil Jon or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled."
This is the best Star Wars and no one can change my mind.
I'll take 'Star Wars Christmas Special' for $100.
That atrocious pile of manure gave us Boba Fett, so without the Christmas Special there won't be The Mandalorian.
Wow, in this article, I openly admitted my love for Cats AND The Star Wars Holiday Special. So maybe my existence was the biggest mistake of all.
ANYWAY, I hope you enjoyed, and I hope you all feel a little bit better about yourself. Because when push comes to shove, at least you didn't accidentally start World War I
When I was younger, it seemed every adult believed that you couldn't swim for several hours after eating. Why did they all believe this? I fought them on this all the time, by the way. I shouldn't have had to, just because I'd eaten some barbecue during a pool party. Guess what, though? That belief is unfounded.
After Redditor MelonInACat asked the online community, "What is a common myth that has been debunked that too many people believe?" people told us about the myths that are still around despite credible evidence.
"Do you know how many wellness checks..."
You must wait 24 hours before reporting a missing person.
- 24 hours from when? The time you realized they were missing? The time you estimate they went missing? The time of the initial report to police?
- Who is the legal timekeeper? If this is a law, it must have a designated timekeeper for official records. City police? County sheriff? Do I hire a private attorney to file a time-keeping motion in court?
- If the most likely time to find a missing person is the first 24 hours, why would you wait 24 hours?
- If the person dies or is severely injured because the county/state refused to initiate a search, doesn't that put some liability on their office? It seems like that would've been tested in court by now.
There's no law governing how long you have to wait before notifying the police of a missing person. It's nonsense. File a report as soon as you suspect the person is missing or in danger.
Do you know how many wellness checks officers go on in a day? Call it in, man...
CALL IT IN!
Why would you wait so long? It's absurd and wastes valuable time. And in the event something has happened, you could very well be saving someone's life.
"Popping your knuckles..."
Popping your knuckles is actually harmless and the "study" that claimed it caused arthritis was heavily flawed. Studies now show that it has nothing to do with causing arthritis.
I heard this one all the time.
I didn't crack my knuckles anyway because I didn't understand the appeal. Why were all the first-graders so fascinated by this?
"That if you get too close..."
That if you get too close to a baby bird, the mother will smell human on the baby and abandon the nest.
You probably should still avoid touching baby birds for other reasons like disease or risking injury to the animal though.
"That waking a sleepwalker..."
That waking a sleepwalker is dangerous for them. They might wake up confused, but they'll be fine unless you scream at them or something.
"That your hair and fingernails..."
That your hair and fingernails still grow after you die. It's mainly an optical illusion. Your skin decays and shrinks, causing hair and fingernails to look like they've grown.
I grew up hearing this.
There are entire generations of people who believe this.
"We all know the story."
The War of The Worlds broadcast in 1938. We all know the story: Orson Welle's broadcast War of The Worlds over the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). But people only tuned in partway through and heard the radio announcing that machines were landing in the country and were advancing and attacking. People panicked in the streets and thought aliens really were invading. There was hysteria on the streets, people were looting and traffic jams backed up as people tried to escape.
But it turns out, that isn't really true. It turns out barely anyone actually listened to the broadcast, and the few that were listening knew it was Orson Welles and knew it was just a broadcast of War of the Worlds. If there was anyone that did tune in and mishear it and panicked, it was nowhere near the hundreds and thousands that have been reported in this myth.
This one is definitely a popular urban myth by this point.
Cool story, but nowhere near as exciting as you might have heard. If anything, that mythos probably helped Welles get full artistic control of the projects, like Ciitizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, that made him a star.
"You don't have to wait..."
You don't have to wait 3 hours after eating to swim. Every summer I have to fight my in-laws about it.
"Do you really think..."
That not turning your airplane mode on (smartphone) can interfere/jam communications.
Do you really think if a smartphone might endanger a whole plane with passengers they would let it fly?
"No amount of reasoning..."
That cats kill babies.
I've run into this so many times since having kids. And it's not the older grandmas making these statements. I've had 20-year-olds tell me that you can't have cats if you plan to have babies because "they'll steal their breath" or some other variation. No amount of reasoning or rationale will dissuade them of this belief.
"Maybe it's just one of those things..."
YOUR. BLOOD. IS. NOT. BLUE! Seriously tho, I was told that everyone's blood was blue on the inside when I was younger, and I honestly don't know why my Mom thought that. Maybe it's just one of those things that you only believe because your family has been saying it since your Grandma's Grandpa's Grandma's Grandma's Grandpa or something like that.
Here's some valuable advice, guys:
Google is your friend. It's very easy to debunk this stuff. I remember being taught that the tongue had taste zones––we even had to fill out a worksheet labeling the tongue's different zones. That's totally wrong, in case you haven't figured it out.
Have some myths you've heard you'd like more people to know have already been debunked? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments section below!
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As much as we're not supposed to feel satisfaction upon observing the struggles of other people, it can be hard to resist a silent, internal fist pump when some blunder occurs immediately after we tried to help the person prevent it.
It is all a result of stubbornness.
The person we're trying to help is stubborn. They think they know the best way to do something, or the exact information required for a given moment.
And, on top of that, they think we're being stubborn when we try to intervene.
So all of our attempts to help fall on deaf ears. And the results can be as calamitous as they are satisfying.
TenaciousBrit asked, "What's your 'I told you so' moment?"
Many people chose to talk about the times their friends or family ended up producing some truly entertaining physical comedy.
And the laughter was only enhanced with the knowledge that they'd just predicted the whole thing.
"Was picking beans with my sister and mom. To this day I still don't know why the fence was electric but it was. I touched it and I got zapped. It wasn't too bad but it hurt. I jumped away and my sister saw me, I said that it was an electric fence."
"Of course she just thought I was pranking her. I was trying to tell her the whole time we picked beans but she didn't believe me. Right at the end she touched the fence and she didn't see it coming at all... Her face was just like, 'Oh shi-' "
"Loved the car ride home, 'I told you... Idiot.' "
No Babies, Two Hurt Backs
"My sister and I were out sledding when we were kids at this place with a really steep hill. I had unknowingly gone down a sled path that had a jump in it, and when I landed it really hurt my back."
"So when I got back up to the top of the hill I told my sister 'don't go that way, the jump really hurts.' She called me a baby and didn't believe me that it really hurt so she decided she would go down that path on her sled."
"Well, she hit the jump and didn't get back up, turns out she fell so hard she had broken her leg. When we finally got her back up the hill and to the car, I got to tell her 'I told you so.' "
"This dumb a**hole woman wouldn't leave the llamas at our petting zoo alone, even after I warned her."
"Eventually they had enough and spit alllll over her. Green goopy spit from head to torso."
"She threw up a bunch and I laughed. Until I smelled it and then I was retching too."
Others recalled the times they trusted their instincts, only to be gaslighted by medical professionals.
But they did, eventually, get the help they needed. And the mixture of pride and frustration toward the other doctor was palpable.
"Had a weirdly dark freckle. The color of chocolate. I showed spouse and he called me a hypochondriac and if I go to a doctor, I'd be wasting their time."
"I went to the dermatologist. It was melanoma."
Years of Itchy Apples
"Since I was 14, my throat got itchy when I ate apples. I told my mom but she thought I just didn't want to eat apples and forced me to eat them."
"Went to the doctor's office and got a test for allergies."
"Turns out, I'm allergic to apples, peaches, and many other fruits."
This Was a Baby We're Talking About Here!
"My newborn baby was projectile vomiting after every feeding. I took her to the doctor several times, always ended up being sent away with suggestions to try a different formula. I tried like 4 different ones, no change."
"The 4th or 5th visit, they sent me away again with the same recommendation even though I pleaded with them to figure out what was wrong with my baby. I left the office and drove to the ER instead. She ended up having emergency surgery that day."
"The surgeon said she would have starved to death (or maybe dehydrated?) had she gone much longer without the surgery. I gave the doctors in that office a piece of my mind."
Dirt: Not Always the Answer
"Went to the doctor on and off for breathing problems to no avail. A lot of 'rub some dirt on it' mentality. Wound up in the ER as a result of an asthma attack. Kept the bracelet on and everything when I went back the next week to see him."
"Not as satisfying as I would've hoped."
And some people discussed the times they knew or predicted a piece of information, but couldn't seem to persuade someone else through dialogue or conversation.
But, of course, the truth always comes out.
Chose the Wrong Partner
"Lawyer here. Fired a partner who I found some real irregularities in their spending habits vs. what they were making after he couldn't provide a good answer to where it came from. Other partner left and started a new firm with them because they disagreed with my decision and refused to look at the evidence."
"Turns out he stole 500k of a clients money, got disbarred, and is now facing prison time. I told her to look at the evidence and she didn't listen. 🤷🏼♂️"
"Someone started talking about a bottle of Newman's Own salad dressing while at dinner with my family and I said something like 'I'm pretty sure that was started by the Actor/Race car driver Paul Newman.' to which one of my siblings replied 'No it was someone else.' "
"I grabbed the bottle and turned it around and started reading the label out loud. The first sentence was 'Paul Newman's career was acting, but his passion was auto racing.' I stopped reading after that."
He Knew Immediately
"Bed frame wasn't properly lashed down while moving, partner insisted the weight of the frame would keep it in place."
"Flew into the middle of a major intersection on a left turn. We dodged four lanes of oncoming traffic to collect the pieces."
"I fixed my partner with a look that could peel paint, and he said 'I know, I know, you told me so and you're right. I'm sorry.' "
"I still give him sh** for it every time we move something. It's funny now, but god damn was I pissed at the time."
We can draw a couple of lessons from this list.
First, know that, at the end of the day, you can only do your best to share your opinion. You need to accept that they're going to do what they're going to do.
Second, when someone tries to give you advice, maybe take a moment to listen.
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One of the most upsetting aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic––which is saying a lot, frankly––is the number of people who have been so affected by misinformation and disinformation. You know the ones to which I refer: These are the people who are convinced the virus is a hoax despite the lives it's claimed and the devastation it has wrought on society at large. Disinformation kills––there are stories of people who remained convinced that Covid-19 is a hoax even while intubated in the ICU, even up to their last breath.
After Redditor asked the online community, "Doctors of Reddit, what happened when you diagnosed a Covid-19 denier with Covid-19?" doctors and other medical professionals shared these rather unsettling stories.
"The one that sticks out in my mind..."
I'm a doctor working in acute internal medicine. I've seen lots of COVID over the last 12 months, probably 300+ cases. The one that sticks out in my mind the most was a 70-year-old lady with COPD. She refused to have a vaccine because she didn't trust it despite the fact she was eligible for one for weeks beforehand (in the UK). Subsequently caught COVID and was admitted to hospital. She repeatedly doubted this was the diagnosis. She refused to go to our COVID High Dependency Unit despite quite significant respiratory failure. Of course, she deteriorated over a number of days to the point where she was on maximal oxygen on the ward and at that point finally accepted treatment in HDU with high flow oxygen, although continued to doubt she had COVID. Died within 24 hours of her HDU admission having refused to go to ICU.
And of course, what did her family say? They were convinced she never had COVID and even went as far as accusing us of withholding life-saving treatment from her. Unfortunately, there's no treatment for stupidity.
Indeed there isn't.
A completely avoidable tragedy.
"My worst experience..."
My worst experience was when a 2-year-old kid got diagnosed with COVID. His mother had brought him with c/o fever and diarrhea. The child was severely dehydrated and so we had to do a mandatory swab test since we planned to admit him. It came positive and the mother refused to admit it. We were ready to perform a repeat test and we even advised the parents to get tested. Her defense was "The child never left the house. It's just me and the father who go to work daily. The grandmother babysits while we are away. How can he even get COVID without leaving the house." She had called her husband, he came with 10-15 relatives in a car, they broke a few chairs and then left with the baby. We just informed about the case to the COVID control centre.
"Only one patient ever accused me..."
Infectious disease doctor here. Seen about 450-500 COVID patients in the hospital since it all started. Only one patient ever accused me of using the nasal swab to give him COVID (along with a microchip). A handful have ranted nonstop about China. Everyone else has been sick enough to accept it, but lots still refuse the idea of vaccination even after being in the ICU.
"I had a lady who was maxed out..."
I had a lady who was maxed out on high flow (the next step is breathing tube) who still refused to believe she had Covid and was holding a negative test in her hand that she had taken a week prior.
The denial is so strong here.
It would be sad if it wasn't so horrifying.
"I'm an attending physician..."
I'm an attending physician at our Triage Unit. On a Friday, an older gentleman (60 + years) came in with his entire family (wife, sister, BIL, 2 nephews, and 3 children), none of them with a face mask. All had mild COVID symptoms except him, he was saturating 80% with evident shortness of breath. We insisted on doing PCR and a chest CAT scan looking for COVID but he and his wife refused, saying that COVID wasn't real and it was just a bacterial infection. The more we talked with him the more agitated he got to the point that his face was red. We suggested hospitalizing him to stabilize him and start treatment, but they accused us of exaggerating his symptoms and that we only wanted to hospitalize him so we could steal the liquid in his knees (a stupid rumor that was going around when this whole thing started).
They both cursed at us and said they were going to a better hospital to get antibiotics. Fast forward 24 hours later on Saturday, I get a call from the hospital next county over telling us that they intubated one of our patients because he went into respiratory failure when he arrived and they had to transfer him here because they don't have the appropriate equipment. We transfer the patient on Sunday only to find out on the CAT scan he had 90% of lung damage. He passed away on Monday morning.
Just before the family took the body away, I gave the widow the death certificate (that I filled out) and before walking away, she turns around and waves the certificate yelling "See! I told you it wasn't COVID! It says here: "Death due to pulmonary pneumonia due to SARS-CoV-2! I knew it was a bacteria!" I told her: "SARS-CoV-2 is COVID-19, ma'am."
The lengths people are willing to go to stay in denial astound me.
Basic critical thinking appears to have gone out the window here.
I'm a family doc who mostly does outpatient.
I live in a pretty conservative area with a good proportion of COVID deniers, so I've been seeing COVID deniers since this mess became politicized (I've lost a few patients over the mask mandate).
Anyway, I'm pretty pleased to say that several of my COVID denying patients have completely turned their attitude around when they (or a close family member) contracted COVID. Even if their case wasn't severe, the sudden terror that they could wind up on a ventilator overnight really puts the fear of God into people.
Unfortunately, I still have some patients who are still pretty obnoxious despite their covid diagnosis. They mostly dig deeper into paranoia. If not about the virus itself, then about the circumstances surrounding them contracting it.
"If Fauci had done his job from the beginning, it never would've hit this town."
"It's the entire fault of Obamacare that I can't get the experimental immunoglobulin treatment!" (It's not, your eligibility for the infusion is dependent on a list of risk factors).
And, probably my favorite...
"So I have COVID and it's completely your responsibility to fix it. I need you to send Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc, Vit D, Lisinopril, and azithromycin to the pharmacy..." Then they proceed to get pissed at me when I don't.
"During our peak time..."
I'm an emergency department physician in the US. I work in an area that had the highest death rate for a solid couple of weeks in the country.
During our peak time when we had national news crews here covering how we were a s***show, saw numerous people screaming their Covid disease wasn't real despite being hypoxic and on large amounts of oxygen due to Covid. That was an unpleasant time as this was still early (May/June) and it was extremely political like people apparently plotting to kidnap our state governor due to lockdowns.
Saw a lot of people refusing Covid testing who needed admission for non-covid purposes because the swabs would give them covid or put some sort of tracking device. They weren't pleased when they then had to be admitted to our full-blown Covid floors. Our Covid floors resembled a warzone because they were understaffed and relative s***hole conditions as we basically converted hallways into covid floors.
Also saw a lot of people young people who weren't exactly deniers but thought you basically couldn't sick if you were young. Lots of people with their lungs permanently scarred or at a minimum a couple of weeks of misery and/or spread it to their loved ones who got extremely ill.
"The willful cognitive dissonance..."
Physician here. The willful cognitive dissonance is real. It never ceases to amaze me how many patients will refuse assistance from me to register to get vaccinated, make claims that vaccines are harmful, but then accept my medical care on anything else that suits their whim. Patients absolutely have the autonomy to refuse care, but why would you continue to see a physician and accept their medical advice and care if you think they would simultaneously recommend something to you that would be harmful?
I've posed this question to patients who are vaccine-hesitant: "Why would you let me manage your diabetes and hypertension if you think I would harm you by recommending vaccinations?" You cannot get any kind of thoughtful response aside from, "I just don't want to be vaccinated."
"Some denier patients lived..."
RN here with most of 2020 spent in COVID land. I never had anyone refuse treatment when things got serious. I know some of the MDs I worked with got yelled at, like the rest of us...but honestly, that happens frequently anyway.
Some denier patients lived, many of which had accepted reality by the end of their stay after seeing what we all were going through to treat them.
Some died telling me I was a sheep or an idiot or a liar between gasps of air.
COVID didn't care.
This comment is strangely poetic.
Covid definitely doesn't care. The virus lays waste to people and... that's it. Good luck with your games of Russian roulette.
"People are crazy."
I work on a COVID unit and I ran into a patient like this. They'd tell me over and over again about how they weren't really sick and about how I didn't need to be gowned up in PPE. They even tried to take my face shield off. If you test positive for COVID two times then you have COVID! People are crazy.
Covid disinformation is a very serious problem and it's costing people their lives.
What can be done about it?
News literacy matters: It's important to get information from verifiable sources. Scientists and medical professionals are trustworthy. Those with backgrounds in public health know what they're talking about. Some conspiracy theory you received from your distant cousin on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger is not worth your time or consideration.
Have some of your own Covid denial stories to share? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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