Emergency Dispatchers Share The Scariest Calls They Have Ever Received

The stress and trauma that a dispatcher's job comes with are insurmountable and deserve a lot of respect.

Some of the calls they get can be life-changing, not just for the people involved, but also the dispatchers themselves.

Redditor King_bob992 asked:

"Emergency service dispatchers, what is the scariest call you have ever gotten?"

You're definitely in the right profession.

"One of the first calls I ever took. Woman calls up and asks about the process of filing a restraining order. She discusses how her boyfriend has been abusive and controlling. Mid conversation the doorbell rings, she puts me on hold opens the door and I hear yelling."

"Guy barges in and starts beating on her and I'm sitting there helpless listening, because I didn't have her address yet. Luckily, I did have her name and within a few minutes we got her address and got help to her. She was pretty badly injured but lived, and he is still in jail."

"That call made me doubt myself and if I was in the right profession, but I stuck with it and it has been a very rewarding (though sometimes sad) profession."


Scary stuff.

"Not a dispatcher but a paramedic. But a man called, saying his mom had severe chest pains. So we head over to their address in a hurry. However, there was no mom, just the caller waiting for us and then robbing us at gun point saying be were going to kill us. He just wanted the drugs, but was quite shocking still."

"Always going through my mind when entering some shady neighbourhood."



That's so heartbreaking.

"I work for a sheriff's office and a good friend of mine was a dispatcher. I stepped outside one day for a smoke and my buddy was standing there shaking and crying. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he had just dispatched a call for his best friend."

"His friend was a former army sniper and had only been out for a few months. He was a volunteer fire fighter and was responding to a house fire, rolled the truck, and had beed decapitated. Guy had 5 young daughters."


A miracle.

"Call came in and was flagged as a frequent caller on the a** end of a very rural county. The dude was just screaming. We couldn't make out anything he was saying but we had his address and sent every available unit we had. After a while the screaming started to die down and his breathing got very labored. He wouldn't talk to us but he just kept muttering. After a few minutes we realized he was praying."

"Few minutes later deputy arrived on scene. Heard him check in on scene and also heard him on the line. First noise I heard was him vomiting. Turned out the dude had been working on his car and the lift collapsed. The guy wasn't under the car but was between it and a tree when the car started rolling. He was impaled on a branch and pinned between the tree and car."

"Dude lived. He's a quadriplegic but he's alive. First legit 911 call he ever made and everyone took their sweet time getting there because it was usually nonsense."



"I am a emergency helicopter dispatcher so I get calls from EMS in rural areas. First question I always ask is, 'what is the closest city to the scene?' I swear 80% of these people do not know how to pronounce it correctly and 50% of them do not know how to spell it."

"One time this guy cut his d**k off on bath salts. When he came too he realized what he did and called us directly."



How tragic.

"I worked as a jailer for a while after getting out of the Marines. We had a dispatcher who had 2 kids. Both boys one a POS that was always in jail the other younger troubled and riding a dangerous line. She got the call one night that her younger son got shot twice in a drug deal gone wrong at a public park where he was playing ball."

"He was dead before the helicopter got in the air most likely. The dispatch center was connected to the jail where she had to work less than 50 yards from the man who shot her son. She was pretty tore up."



"Not EMS, but work for a domestic violence shelter that offers sexual assault services. Will never forget talking to this one woman, and her husband came home during the call and she must have dropped the phone in the process but then I could just hear her screaming and him yelling. That will stay with me forever I'm sure. I really wish we had been able to get her help before that happened. That is the worst call I've had. But I find it so hard when children call, just always breaks my heart."


Good for them for not pushing themselves.

"When I was younger, I applied to be a 911 operator for the city I was living in northern California. I got through most of their tests and interviews, which there were numerous. The pool of applicants was over 200 for about 8 positions. I got down to the last dozen applicants then they played some recordings for us."

"The recording I listened to was a young girl calling 911 from inside a closet. She was crying and hysterical saying that her dad was in the house with a gun and was going to kill her mom. You could hear the mother screaming in the background and the operator was really calm and collected. She got the little girl to keep her voice down and whisper and tried to keep her on the line. You could hear the gunshots in the background."

"I couldn't listen to it anymore. I didn't want to find out what happened next, so I don't know the outcome. I knew I couldn't handle that then. I don't think I could take something like that now."




"There was an accident once on a somewhat busy state road here. An older couple in an suv pulled out onto the road without seeing a motorcyclist that was going well over 100 mph. He rear ended them, died instantly and plowed through the suv, landing halfway through the windshield. The suv flipped a couple times and landed on the passenger side, trapping the wife. Then it caught on fire."

"At my dispatch center we had 3 of us working at all times, and I don't even know how many 911 calls we instantly got when this happened. Dozens, I'm sure. After I sent the FD and they got on the way(this is a rural area and this intersection was probably a good ten minutes south of them), some bystanders managed to get the husband out of the suv but he died in the helicopter on the way to the hospital, I believe. The wife burned alive."

"Honestly the worst part was right after I dispatched the FD, one of the lieutenants on the biggest police department in my county happened to be driving through there with his family and he called 911. I'll never forget how panicked and frantic he was on that call. I had never heard any of our officers like that before, let alone one of the administrators. We were pretty friendly with all of them so it shook me up. After I hung up with him I just started sobbing."


The strength it must take to move past that...

"My sister works as a dispatcher. Her first week on the job, she had a man call in, saying he was going to kill himself. He told her that she couldn't do anything to change his mind; he was simply trying to let her know where he could be found. She heard the gunshot through the call."

"Second one, she had a little girl call in because her dad was unresponsive. She knew that CPR would likely save this man, but the daughter wasn't grown enough and didn't have the strength to perform it effectively. My sister had to tell her to leave the room, because the longer that girl stayed in there trying fruitlessly to save her father, the more scarred she would become by the experience of watching her father die."


Both are horrifying.

"Former 000 calltaker reporting in. Scariest one would have to be one of the very first calls I took while I was training. A young man rang up and it was evident from his voice that he was in shock. His exact words were 'I've just hit a motorbike rider who was coming around a blind bend on the wrong side of the road. I think I've killed him.'"

"From dealing with a few noise complaints to a car accident with a possible fatality was a massive switch, and this was only my second shift taking calls in training. The motorbike rider did not survive that accident."


"Second scariest would be when someone was working down a well and was overcome by generator fumes. His wife tried to rescue him but she fell off the ladder, injured herself as a result and was unable to help her husband. So there's one possibly dead male in the well and his wife is in danger of dying as well. And all of this is in a remote location that I am completely unfamiliar with. We didn't save the male. We did, however, manage to save his wife."


That's terrible.

"My answer from a similar thread:"

"The one that always sticks with me was the time I had to tell a father how to cut his 15 year old son down after he had hung himself. He was actively reciting reasons why he may have been a bad parent while doing it. I'll remember that until the day I die."


Holy s**t.

"Obligatory posting on behalf of my mom. She answered 000 police emergency calls (Australian 911). The top two: A woman phoned up. She had a restraining order on her ex-husband, had come home to furniture moved positions inside the house."

"Whilst checking rooms she noticed handprints on the wall leading up to the roof cavity access point. This was slightly ajar. Mom tells her to leave. Woman decides nope, she's Dora the explorer and gets a chair. She stands on it, starts to lift the cover and it gets slammed back down. Yep, hubby in the roof. He'd been there a while (days)."

"2nd: a call comes in from a remote outback community. Someone's using a machete to stab their way into a door while laughing maniacally. There are no street addresses or house numbers to ID the location and the caller cannot give a location. Nearest police are 2 hours away. Mom just heard screaming, then gurgling, then silence then whistling."


Super anxiety-inducing.

"I was working at a small agency during a storm. We would work 1 person in dispatch per shift, as it was pretty common to go an entire overnight shift without a single call. The local hospital called and said 'A tornado just hit the hospital.' Turns out, the tornado dropped directly on top of the hospital, moves across the street to the college dorms and destroyed at least one of them. There must have been multiple 'naders because all of our phone lines lit up and everyone was saying a tornado just hit their house."


"The town close by had a couple fires, our paging system went down (meaning no paging out our volunteer fire guys, 3 officers in total for the entire f**king county, and all of our medics tied up at the hospital."

"The calls would go like this: 'Are you injured? Do you feel safe enough to drive yourself to the hospital?' If they said yes, I'd tell them to make their way to the staging area at the hospital, if no, I had to write it down and have one of the other agencies sending help to check on them."

"Luckily the college was on an extended weekend so hardly anyone was in the dorms. I still have anxiety issues when I'm at work when a storm hits."


Don't do drugs.

"My dad's friend got a call from a man who claimed there was an alien in his stomach. When they got to him they discovered he cut his own stomach open and took his insides outside. The knife was lying in his flesh next to the body. The man was high on some drugs."


Too Sad

"A 3 year old was at a campground with her family and they let her out of their sight for 20 seconds and she wandered down to a creek and drowned. Her mom found her and her father called in. While I was getting details from the understandable distraught father, a random guy camping there was doing CPR managed to resuscitate her. I can't imagine how her parents felt, but it was like physical weight being lifted off of me."


Pain in the moment...

"Was a 911 operator for 10 years. Scariest is probably different than worst. My scariest was an active shooter in a high rise. Just sitting on the line trying to give the best directions so every one makes it out okay."

"When I first started out, I worked for a rural county and some areas were very far from help. One night I got a call from a group of people who were in a3m accident and their car caught fire. The girl I was speaking with was stuck in her seatbelt and as the fire spread she was in terrible amounts of pain."

"She kept begging me to send help and I was but it was far away. I stayed with her until the phone dropped (assumingly the phone and it melted or malfunctioned). The other was a hanging."

"The father called me for a welfare check and I was putting in the call when he got to the house. He said the door was unlocked, so I stayed landline while he went inside and he found his son. The pain in the moment he walked out and told his wife was so horrible and raw."



"I think the most genuine terror comes from child callers. I had this 5 year old call in that her dad was growling and wouldn't wake up. Ok agonal breathing, probably a heart attack scrambling to get a confirmed address for ems, pd dispatched to unconfirmed address."

"Finally confirm the address and start giving directions on CPR. Nope she will not touch him because she is scared then bursts into tears. Luckily pd arrived just after she refused and they were able to do CPR until EMS arrived."


CPR instructions and he kept screaming...

"911 dispatcher here for a large city. I get a little bit of everything and mostly it's BS. But one that stuck with me was something recently. A man called in frantic and it was really hard to get him to calm down. He told me his 35 year old girlfriend was unresponsive and not breathing."

Season 5 Nbc GIF by The OfficeGiphy

"I immediately started giving this guy CPR instructions and he kept screaming 'I'm sorry I'm sorry my love.' Tough morning for the guy no doubt. It hit me that he could have been responsible or the last thing he ever said to her was not pleasant. Never followed up on the call. In this line of work, it's on to the next one."

"Too busy to think about it. I have millions of people depending on me not to let the last call effect the next one. I don't know what happened other than she was a DOA. Didn't hit me until the next day. My God, that scream was deafening. All i know is there was more to the story, I could hear it in his voice."

"P.S. I've heard people shot in real time, parents trying to revive their dead kids first thing in the morning, but this for some reason hit me."


On the Roof

"There's a guy up here on the roof. He was wandering around in a daze and not responding to me. He's got his shirt off and he's sitting on top of the parking garage with his legs over the edge and he's rocking back and forth. He's covered in blood."

"Vehicle pursuits aren't fun either."


On the Porch

"Heard this story from a cop I knew. Guy calmly calls 911 to report a man standing on his front porch with a shotgun. Police arrive at the address provided to find a man in his 50s standing on the porch as described in the call. They take cover and prepare to shoot if man decides to open fire. Man points gun to his own face, cops realize what was going on, but it happened too quickly for them to intervene. That man on the porch was the one who called."


scared famous smile GIF by VH1Giphy

Dispatchers seriously aren't paid enough.

Do you have any experiences to add? Let us know in the comments below.

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web
Paper ripping in two
Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

When love is on the rocks and there's no salvaging a relationship, it's better for a couple to call it splits.

Sometimes the reason for a breakup is obvious.

Other times, it's more complicated.

But the people involved going their separate ways is better than staying in an unhealthy relationship.

Keep reading...Show less
Students sitting in an assembly
Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

Everyone looks back on their high school experience differently.

Some wish they could relive it all over again, while others are more than happy to put it all behind them and seldom, if ever, look back on it.

Of course, no matter if they look back on high school with pleasure or disdain, everyone has a few memories of their classmates.

Particularly the one who always seemed to be getting into trouble.

Constantly landing themselves in detention and, in more severe cases, landing themself in trouble with the authorities.

Some of these students thankfully grew out of their bullying days and have grown and learned to treat others with respect and kindness. Others were not so lucky, and still found themselves getting into trouble long after their school days were over.

Keep reading...Show less

Who among us hasn't seen things that made us think we were still asleep?

Sometimes those scary movie moments are a reality.

Once in a while, Michael Myers IS in the shadows.

There are so many unexplainable happenings that leave our nerves wrecked.

As I type this, I swear I can hear moving in the bushes outside.

I'm not in the mood to be terrorized before bed.

Keep reading...Show less
Large wall of books at library
Photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash

If someone were to ask us which book we either hated or could not finish, we all have an answer to that question.

There are some books that simply do not work for us, while others stick with us forever.

Keep reading...Show less