911 operators have a front row seat to the moments when people are most stressed out.
These are the professionally calm voices on the other line when somebody calls in the midst of total catastrophe, a sudden tragedy, and imminent danger.
With one call coming in after the next, all shift long, it's not difficult to see how draining that job could be.
But there are occasionally calls that leave an operator chuckling. Some people choose to call 911 for the weirdest things.
Thankfully, a good 911 operator can sift through the the true emergencies and the strange, unnecessary call. Lucky for us, however, those ones ended up on a recent Reddit thread.
For some operators, it was all about the animal stories. You'd be stunned how many people call 911 when a weird animal mishap strikes.
"I only worked dispatch for a few months and I got a call for a fish being stuck in a woman's ear." -- jajison
"Did they arrest the fish?" -- AlienSandwiches
"I- I have several questions" -- The_Official_Dave
Narrating the Whole Thing
"I had a guy call in on 911 because he was concerned about a seagull he thought was injured in a Chipotle restaurant parking lot. Apparently while on the phone, he tried to pick up or check on the bird at which point the bird started squawking, then he started freaking out and I started having trouble telling them apart."
"Then there I could hear what might have been wings flapping, a brief silence, and suddenly the guy started hyperventilating and screaming he needed an ambulance because he was having a heart attack and that the bird flew off."
"I wasn't sure if he was being serious so I got him over to EMS as a precaution. Upon transfer and getting EMS on the line he got very quiet and said, 'I think I'm okay, I'll call you back later,' and hung up and would not answer on callback."
"I still wonder about Steven Seagull when I drive by a Chipotle."
"Not a 911 operator but during residency they had us shadow one during my EMS month."
"This woman called 911 3 times in 10 minutes for a service animal in a mall. 'He's here staring at me! No I don't care that he's helping. He just licked his nuts!' "
All Kinds of Wildlife
"I just certified as a call taker and got mandated for overtime (of course) on my first shift. Policy was if someone insisted they saw something we take it as face value and enter the call."
"Well this lady called me just after midnight and swore she saw a chupacabra on the west side of Orlando and Insisted in an officer doing an area check."
"Not too long after that a coworker was in on his night off and left the building. He called 2 mins later saying he saw a kangaroo hopping down the street."
"I can't make this sh** up"
The Great Pig Chase
"Former dispatcher here. My funniest call was a guy called in and said he wanted to report a pig running around."
"I had to ask a pig, as in curly tailed pig. He said yes sir he's running by taco bell now."
"I dispatch out animal control who gets on scene and asks for help. One of our officers assists and for the next 40 minutes or so I got to listen to two of the cities finest chase a young pig around businesses."
"Once the pig was finally caught it was determined the pig came from a transport truck. The driver said he didn't want the pig back so the pig was given to the humane society."
"Never did hear what happened to the little fellow after that."
And now, the moment we've all been waiting for: the steamiest reasons to call 911.
Professional Removal Required
"When I was a Fire dispatcher, I had to send a Squad to remove a penis ring. So there's that." -- bravosarah
"I'm just trying to visualize how they managed to get that off the poor bastard. Did they use bolt cutters or something?" -- SOUNDEFFECT94
"My aunt talks about a dude came into her ER with a titanium ring. They didn't have the equipment to cut it off so the firefighters has to come in with the jaws of life."
"Amazingly it went well and the dude kept his penis." -- Commercial_Nature_44
"One time a guy called in while I was training and stated he had cut his penis. When I answered you cut your penis?! The trainer smacked me on the arm and told me he said he'd cut his hand. She looked at me like the biggest pervert!"
"Then 10 seconds later into the conversation he says, 'Yeah I was trying on a rubber that was too small and I had to cut it off so I cut right into my penis!' She almost couldn't stop herself from laughing."
When a Kink Leads to Some Logistical Issues
"Numerous calls where someone has handcuffed themself to a SO during coitus and lost the key (if it's not busy this seems to draw most available officers)."
"Not me but a coworker: a person was pleasuring themselves with the handle of a scissors and it got stuck."
And others shared the moments that were so ridiculous they were almost cartoonish. Strap in for surreal images, absurd logic, and shocking circumstances.
Man vs. Machine
"There are funny calls that come in all the time. I talked to a pizza delivery guy who couldn't reach his destination because a defiant chicken was standing in the middle of the road. I stayed with him on the phone as he pleaded with it to finally move along. Truly a chicken crossing the road moment."
"Another time I took a call where a guy insisted he was in an argument with a man dressed as a giant Pepsi bottle. He said the man in the Pepsi suit had stolen his debit card and refused to give it back. Upon arrival the officers told me he was high as sh** and arguing with a vending machine."
Trying to Show Off the Guns
"A man requiring extrication from an Under Armor insulated shirt. His shoulder popped out of the socket while he was pulling it on, it was halfway on/halfway off and his arm was locked and dislocated."
Who Was She Expecting?
"My sister once called because she wanted to know who would be on the other end of the line. I couldn't hear what the person said but I heard my sister's parts of the convo."
"Sister: hello? Who's this? ... Oh..."
"Then she hung up on the operator. They ended up calling back and my dad picked up and had to explain that his daughter was just being curious."
Procrastinating the Call
"My caller reported her car stolen. When I asked her when she saw her car for the last time she replied 1990. Yep, 30 years ago."
"She seemed unfazed on why I was surprised by her answer."
Keeping It In the Family
"I once called 911 because I cut my finger and wanted to talk to my mom, who was a dispatcher. I called crying asking to talk to her by name."
"She was more pi**ed at my dad for not waking up when I tried to go to him first haha."
A Concerned Citizen
"Actual 911 operator here. So far the silliest was a guy who called, all concerned about the number of birds flying around because there was an air show nearby and he was worried the planes would hit the birds"
"Friend of mine was a 911 dispatcher. The funniest call he ever had was a woman who claimed she was locked inside of her own vehicle."
"After explaining to her where the door lock switch was, she was able to free herself."
"A friend had cops called on him cause he was doing 'liquid' at the train station. It's a form of dancing at raves where your hands seem to look like liquid."
"The person who called the cops was scared it was satanic or something."
So if you can, try to take a breath and double check to make sure it's a reasonable time to call 911. Although you can rest assured that if it's really out there, you just might make someone's day.
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*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
The person on the other end of a 911 call has a truly remarkable job.
For those who don't play that professional role, we hope to never encounter the 911 call interaction. But if we do find ourselves making that call, the moment is an anomaly in our lives.
The chaos, the panic, the racing heart, and the desperation are all emotions we, ideally, don't experience on a regular basis.
But for the operator on the other end, our call is one in a long line of calls they've received all day, and all the workdays before that one.
It's difficult to imagine being embedded in those uniquely urgent, emergency moments all the time.
Some Redditors who are on the other end of that call shared their experiences on the job.
WhimsicalxxButcher asked, "911 dispatchers what has been your most creepy/unnerving call?"
For a few, the most unnerving moments were the calm callers.
There was something just so eerie about how level-headed the faceless human being on the other end could be through such a desperate, tragic moment.
"I had a friend who worked as a 911 dispatcher and he always said the worst call he ever had was a ~20 year old kid who committed suicide by mixing a bunch of chemicals together in his car to produce hydrogen sulfide gas."
"He said that the most unnerving part was hearing him calmly listing off the chemicals, the type of gas produced, and the effects of hydrogen sulfide on the body (namely the almost instant death it causes at high concentrations)."
"He ended the call by providing the address of the parking lot he was in and saying that nobody should approach the vehicle without hazmat equipment."
"Apparently after that there was a whooshing sound as he dumped the last chemical into the mix, and then the line went dead silent aside for a quiet fizzing noise."
"I know that call screwed him up because he almost never talks about stuff that happens to him on the job. He quit a few months later to go into construction management, and frankly I can't blame him."
"A woman called me, saying she was going to kill herself. She was gassing herself. Gave me her name & address then said she was just going to lie down and 'go to sleep.' And stopped responding to me."
"I kept the line open, trying to get her to speak to me, and eventually heard officers forcing their way in to find her body. I guess she just wanted someone to find her body."
Before It Set In
"When I got a call from a 6 year old who got home from school and laid down to take a nap with his dad. His dad never woke up."
"The kid was so calm when calling it broke my heart."
"I ended up leaving dispatch shortly after. I was good at compartmentalizing the job for the year I was doing it, but it would've broken me in the long run."
A Horrifying Crescendo
"Suicide or homicide calls always get my hair standing on end. I've taken a few of both. It's always eerie how callers start off relatively calm then you notice them get more and more emotional and hysterical as the weight of what they've just witnessed sets in."
"I have taken calls from parents screaming at their dead child and sobbing asking why they did it. It's a creepy feeling knowing that they're standing there screaming at a dead body that's in God knows what kind of condition."
Other 911 operators were unfortunate enough to receive a call from the very last person they wanted to hear from: a loved one.
These dispatchers' unique position gave them the unexpected access to a family member or friend at their most dire moments.
No More of That
"My family member is a long time first responder, and 'retired' into doing dispatch. He heard the address (someone else was taking the call) and realized it was his daughter's house."
"He rushed over there just in time to see them wheeling her body out. Overdose."
"Five months later, he was called to his ex-wife's place because his grandson (son of the daughter who recently passed) had his door locked, lights on, but wasn't responding to his grandma."
"He broke the door down and found him deceased in bed. Overdose."
"He's very stoic after years of all sorts of traumatic situations but my heart hurts whenever I think of what all of this must have felt like. Like sand through your fingers."
Knowing the Address
"Not me, but my grandma. I was sitting in the dispatch office, (very small one only 2 dispatchers including my grandma) but she put out a dispatch that there was a gun shot from my best friends address."
"My heart sank to my stomach and broke later that day. He committed suicide."
When it Happened
"My uncle passing away. Worked as a small town dispatcher for a year or so. Had a bunch of messed up stuff happen on shift, but this call came in in the still hours of the night. Small town, so not many calls after midnight."
"I answered and recognized the name and address on caller id. Aunt was in a frenzy so didn't recognize my voice. I remained calm and got ems and fire rolling to them, but by my aunt's own words he was already blue."
"I went thru debriefing and mandated therapy for a couple other things that happened, but never really talked to anyone about this. I just try not to think about it."
"That was the call I figured out I needed to find a different job."
Finally, some simply had a front row seat to sudden tragedy.
These operators were flies on the wall when disaster struck. They never asked to witness what they witnessed, but sometimes that came with the territory.
A Holiday Tragedy
"My mom is a 911 dispatcher. Early on she said one Christmas Eve while working she got a call from an elderly lady who's husband had just collapsed(and died) from a heart attack and in the background Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music was playing on blast."
"The lady was screaming and crying and begging for her husband to wake up but my mom could hear his gurgling in his last breathes. She doesn't listen to or watch Alvin and the chipmunks since."
What is it About Christmas?
"Christmas night. 911 call with crying child on the other end. A neighbor had run her car over her mom during a domestic."
"The mom crawled to the porch bleeding and the child saw the car coming back. I had her hide quietly in a closet with the cordless phone."
"The 10 year old child was crying and screamed that she hated Christmas. She was afraid of the police when they got there."
"I kept her on the phone until she felt safe enough to give the phone to an officer. I almost fainted after that call was over. Had nightmares for a while."
Close to Home
"Not a dispatcher but I handle radio communications for the Coast Guard. One night I was on the radio and got a call from an 11 year old kid whose boat had started to sink. He was out with his dad and 6 year old brother."
"They had been hit by another boat and his father got knocked unconscious. I remember the entire conversation up until the radio had gone underwater."
"They ended up finding his dad floating on his back alive but the two boys didn't make it. That one really fu**ed with me because my two littlest brothers were around the same age as the youngest."
Excruciating, and Imagined
"Probably the guy that called screaming that his friend abandoned him to die and that he could feel it coming because he had parasites eating him from the inside."
"He was coded a 10-96 (a caller with some mental instability) and I had to try and calm him down while the deputies approached him."
"I really hope he received the help that he needed and is doing better now."
A Dismal Day
"Another one that stays with me was the man who called in. It was the anniversary of his adult son having hanged himself. He'd now come home to find his wife had done the same. That date is always going to be a black day for him."
Looking Out for Number One
"I asked a friend this, she worked in it 20+ years and shes an absolute sweet little lady, she told me this one time a neighbor called them to say the apartment building was on fire and there were kids still inside sleeping in the neighboring apartment, but they didnt wanna bother checking the door or waking them up not to upset the parents (who were at work) all 6 kids and 2 dogs died that day."
"She expressed how people are REALLY unwilling to help someone in need when calling sometimes and it breaks her soul every time."
As It Happened
"I recently had an open line 911 call, where the person that called was the victim of a home invasion. He was smart enough to call 911 and hide the phone so we could hear everything that was going on. I heard him begging for someone to just take the money and leave, please don't kill me I'm an old man..."
"And I heard another male voice in the background swearing telling him he was going to shoot him in the face. It was the longest phone call of my life, I thought for sure I was going to hear this poor guy get murdered on the line. I was afraid to say anything because I didn't want the suspect to know or hear that the victim had called."
"Thankfully our officers got there fairly quickly, surrounded the building and caught the guy trying to go out a back window. He got arrested and the old man survived with only minor injuries from being punched several times. Apparently the suspect was super high and was a friend of a caretaker of the elderly person. The caretaker had mentioned the old man had money hidden in the house."
"I heard this story from my friends mom where she answered a call from a man who had stepped on a landmine. his mom told him to stay still and asked where the man was. The man was apparently near the entrance of a hiking trail and his location was easy to track, and during the whole time of the police arriving there, his mom kept talking but stuttering, as one wrong move would end up blowing the man apart."
"The police arrived with a bomb squad, and his mom heard an explosion. She had tears going down her face but then she heard the man talking from a distance. To this day she is unsure how the man escaped but the mine blew up. It's impossible to disarm a mine if someone is standing on it and the mine was about 50 years old at the time."
A Formative Tragedy
"When I was 9 my mom died. My brother (10.5) and I were home alone with her. Our dad had died 3 years earlier. She had a massive heart attack. My brother called 911 and they walked us through getting her off the bed and onto the floor so that my brother could attempt CPR."
"When he was ready, he gave me the phone (on speaker), and told me to turn around and face the wall so I didn't have to watch. I vividly remember sobbing to the dispatcher: PLEASE YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, THIS IS MY LAST PARENT! YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!"
"The dispatcher attended my mother's funeral and left the field right after."
"My brother is a trauma surgeon."
"I'm in nursing school."
"Very cataclysmic situation for all involved."
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
Again, we hope you never have to use the 911 call in your life. Nobody wants to be involved in a sudden emergency or a tragic incident.
But hopefully, if you do, an operator like one of these thoughtful, sensitive Redditors is on the other end.
Sometimes it's a knee-jerk reaction to call 911. Once an emergency emerges, often the mind begins to splinter. You want to be helpful and superhero-like but most of the time, we're all just grasping for a bit of sanity. That isn't a judgment. It's harder than you think to keep your cool in an emergency situation. But... just make sure it's an emergency. Too many people are commandeering 911 for things that are not dire. That's why there is 311... try it.Redditor u/FormerLongTimeLurker wanted to emergency workers out there to share with us about their daily headaches by asking them... First responders of Reddit, what is the stupidest reason someone called emergency services and what happened?
I have to admit the last time I called 911... it was a non-emergency. But my roommate and I didn't know that. It was Halloween and a massive "something" slammed against our door. When we opened it the "something" was gone. Then all of a sudden I heard screaming and gunshots. And... I smelled an immense amount of pot. Turns out the massive something was our alcoholic neighbor who visited the roof and feel down the stairs on the way back. He quickly picked himself up and hurried off before we could catch him. The gunshots and screaming were our downstairs neighbors watching "Scarface." Their sound system is state of the art. I told the police someone had been murdered. So you can imagine how thrilled the neighbors --who were innocently watching a movie and smoking copious amounts of pot-- felt when answering the door to detectives at 2am. We all had a good laugh about it later. Well, my roommate and I did. The neighbors who give me side eye. I think the people on this chain can sympathize with my mistake.
Good Luck Goldilocks...summer sunglasses GIF by Topshelf RecordsGiphy
Well, I once sprayed myself in the eyes with bear spray as a kid and wound up calling the fire department. My initial perception was that you put bear spray on yourself, not the bear. It was an incredibly rude awakening. The fire department got a good laugh about it while I vigorously poured water into my eyes as I continued to cry. Makes for a good story now though.
Not my Legos...
A kid called 911 because he wanted us to come arrest his brother for not sharing the legos from the lego bin.
You see, they were supposed to share, but his brother wasn't sharing. The caller's mom even told his brother to share, but alas, the brother declined. The bin had enough legos for both of them, but the caller's brother said that he was playing with all of the legos. This wasn't reasonable to our caller. There were too many legos for one person to play with at the same time. Therefore, our caller's brother was a liar, a turd, and he definitely wasn't sharing and Mom said he had to share so we needed to come arrest him.
While hilarious, we wanted to do a quick check to make sure there wasn't something else going on. We had a high degree of confidence that this wasn't a coded request for help, so we asked to speak to an adult. After confirming that there was no actual emergency, we ended the call and recommended no action.
Share your legos, kids.
My cousin was learning about emergency numbers. She stole my nana's phone, ran to my nana's room, gathered my siblings and called 911. Of course someone answered and she flipped out. She immediately hung up without saying something. The operator calls back but nobody answers. 10 minutes later, the police arrive. They said that they got a phone call from this location.
My cousin immediately starts wailing in the background. My nan'a calls for one of my siblings who tells her that it was my cousin who called because she wanted to see if anyone would answer. My nana apologizes and the police start laughing, saying that it happens all the time.
Sometimes kids are adorable. The next group of people just found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Who hasn't right? More often than not, lonely people will try to find connection anywhere and everywhere, like an ER at night, so once and awhile we innocently find ourselves as accomplices in a stranger's story. And some of us just get stuck due to our own malfunctions.
Former er nurse here. My absolute worst was a lady who called 911, claiming she couldn't breathe.
She had a pimple on the inside of her nose and it hurt to breathe through her nose. I rubbed some bacitracin on her pimple, gave her a bus pass, which she refused, demanded a cab voucher, accused me of calling her poor, then called an Uber.
Super strange encounter.
I need to be BALED out...
Obligatory not a first responder... but the dumb caller. Climbed up into the hayloft of my barn, and while I was moving bales around I accidentally jammed the door to the ladder closed. I didn't have any tools with me to wedge it open, and I couldn't pry it up with my fingers. But I had my cell phone with me, I always bring my cell to the barn. None of my neighbors answered their phones, so... yeah.
"911, I'm stuck in my barn. Can you send someone to climb up the ladder and open the door?"
The worst part? I work in the hospital. I KNEW every single person (and they sent two cop cars and a fire engine for some bizarre reason) that showed up at my house. To this day, I've yet to live it down.
Can I hitch a Ride?
Got a call for chest pains, patient gave a really generic story, got to the hospital and when the triage nurse asked what was wrong I start telling her about the patient's pain. The patient cut me off to explain she wasn't having chest pain, she just wanted a ride to the hospital because she liked the socks she got in the emergency room last time she was there and would like another pair.
Who can't help but be frantic when things we hold near and dear go missing. I have a small, black dachshund, her name is Juliet. Over the course of our ten years together she has sent me into panic mode several times. She either is doing it innocently or she 's the devil. (Still so cute either way) Every once and awhile she'll hide. The problem is she is compact and easy to miss in poorly lit spaces. More than once I've torn my apartment apart in search of her, only to find her asleep in my laundry. One time I was sure she was taken from my open window. So I called the police, right before they arrived, I turned around to find her staring at me form under a pillow. I believe with a smirk. There were no treats that evening.
Elderly lady calls and reports that out of her 200 ducks, 3 were just stolen.
Arrived to see an enormous mass of ever moving ducks and elderly lady says, "See there's 3 missing, just count them." Needless to say, you could count to about 10 ducks at most before you lost track of the ducks that were either counted or uncounted.
Not a first responder but my previous phone had a virus and would randomly call emergency services twice a night while I was using it. Few times I couldn't disconnect in time and would awkwardly tell the responder it was a mistake. I still feel bad for wasting their time.
Cruella?101 dalmatians GIFGiphy
Young couple calls and reports that out of their 17 dalmatians, 15 were just stolen.
There wasn't much SY could do besides put up adverts in all the papers. After a rather unorthodox escape by the dogs themselves, an officer arrived for a followup to see an enormous mass of ever moving dalmatians - many more than the original 17 - and the young husband exclaims, "It's a dalmatian plantation!" Needless to say, you could count to about 10 dalmatians at most before you lost track of the dalmatians that were either counted or uncounted.
Hot Waterolaf GIFGiphy
Local lady made the news for calling emergency services because her snowman was stolen.
Guys and gals, let's all save emergency response for emergencies. Can you imagine a "please hold" response while someone is breaking into your home so that the person hogging up the line can get a police escort for a missing Scooby-Doo sweater. (Yes I've lost mine before) When in panic mode... stop, breathe, assess then choose action. Calmly. Call 311. Or learn your local non-emergency number.
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911 is a serious phone line and should not be used as an alternative to the shopper's network, psychic hotline or your local sushi delivery. And if you house people who are mentally not prepared to use the line judiciously, then please hide all the phones. That should be the warning that everyone hears when calling into the emergency phone service, but then we wouldn't have some solidly funny stories about when the less than stable ring up our officers. It's not right, but it's okay.Redditor u/KrystalGamer246 was dying to hear about the 911 calls that could be in a comedy series by asking... To any 911 call operators, what is the funniest 911 call you've ever had?
Wrenchedweird spider man GIFGiphy
A guy calls from a payphone to complain that he has a pipe wrench stuck up his butt and he needed an ambulance. He gave his location as the corner where the payphone was located. I asked him if he could tell me his appearance so I could be sure the medics could find him. His response, "look dude, I'll be the only guy on the corner with a pipe wrench in his butt." I couldn't argue with that...
Duck. Duck. Owl
My kid worked for animal control, we are eating dinner and 911 dispatch calls him. Some panicked lady had called 911 about an owl in a tree that couldn't fly. It had been sitting in the tree for a half hour not moving. Of course it was just before dusk and the owl was just waiting for dark so it could go hunt for dinner.
Then there was the call about the one legged duck at the park...
Edit to add: he actually went to the park to make sure the duck wasn't injured but realized after 15 minutes how silly he looked chasing after this one legged duck that was outrunning him.
My mom was a 911 operator in the SF Bay area in the 80s and 90s. I asked her to tell me a story to pass along, so here it is:
I got a 911 call and I couldn't understand the caller. He was slurring his words. I knew he was calling from a bar so I asked if he'd been drinking and after asking many times I asking, I was able to determine that he wanted the police, not an ambulance.
He wanted to file assault charges because a woman pulled his tongue. I asked, "how was she able to pull your tongue?" and he said, "because I stuck it out at her." I had to keep muting the call because I was laughing so hard.
Apparently my supervisor went on to play this call in seminars for years and always got a ton of laughter.
Barefoot, no shirt......
I used to do overnight security, and have had to call 911 several times. My favorite was a gentleman who was obviously on something, jittery, touching his face a lot, couldn't sit still.
He tried to break into a house next to our campus. So I dialed 911 right then. As I'm giving them a description of what he is wearing, he starts stripping his clothes off, running across our campus. So I have to tell the 911 operator, "Yeah, he butt naked in the middle of street, laying down. I think he's doing the worm." We lost the guy on cameras, no clue where he is. Five cop cars show up and they round up the only guy in our area with no shoes or a shirt.
We went outside to give the cops a statement, and the guy is trying to convince the police that he is the one who called them to report someone stealing his shoes. The cops don't buy it for a second. But they let him go, and he just runs off into the night. Barefoot, no shirt.
2 Cows Running....
I called 911 about two cows running around on a street by my parents neighborhood. 911 operator asked me to describe the animals and I said "lady I promise you they're the only 2 cows running down the street right here." Then one got hit by a jeep and I had to clarify that there was now only one cow running down the street.
My department dispatches our area's animal control after hours. Once received a call from a guy freaking out because he caught a possum in his house. I asked him which room he was able to confine the animal and he didn't tell me which room, but said he trapped it in a microwave. I had many questions.
Change the Speedthe holidays animation GIF by The Daily DoodlesGiphy
My late aunt once called 911 because my uncle wouldn't change the fan that was blowing on her. Because it was a small community in NE Michigan, the police laughed and came out and changed the fan.
I'm not sure if this is true, but I read about an old lady who called 911 because a ghost was in her house. She was a sweet woman who apparently made calls often, so the officers showed up and pretended to arrest the ghost so she would feel better.
Excuse me. Manager?old lady deal with it GIFGiphy
At a long term care facility I worked at One of our residents called 911 with the phone in her room because she didn't get ketchup with her lunch. Not kidding. The Sherrif's office called back to let the nurses know what she'd done while I was standing right there. I've never laughed so hard at work.
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"911, what is your emergency?" is the first part of your script. After that, nobody knows the rest of the script.
It could be something serious--maybe someone could be hurt. It could be something important but less dangerous, so you can keep your cool.
It could be something totally batty. But there's just no way to really know until it happens.
Here were some of those answers.
***SPOILER.... The following content is for 17 and Over and contains darker material***
Some Serious Ones At First
Scariest was a woman who called and said her husband had a gun and was threatening to kill himself. While the officers were on the way they wanted to talk to her. While I was transferring her she said "he's pointing the gun at me" but luckily the officer picked up right after and I could disconnect. I was still in training at the time so it was scary.
Worst call was an old man who called saying he accidentally ran over his son with his combine. His son tripped while he was next to the big wheel and went under it. He was crushed. I froze for a solid 10 seconds not knowing what to do because my mind went blank. This was when I was fresh out of training, so I was still inexperienced with that level of intensity.
Nature Vs Nurture
Not mine, but an old friend of my Mom's we'll call Judy:
Judy was a switchboard operator in high school (before 911 was a thing). She got this call one day from a dude who was keeping a literal and actual, fully grown DEER as a pet. Not only that, it was a MALE adult deer. This guy had raised said deer since it was a baby and it had been fine for years. But it was still a wild animal, mating season had rolled around and for whatever reason it had decided that its owner was competition.
In short, this man was being attacked by his pet buck. Judy called the cops, but she had to stay on the line until they got there. So she had to listen to him being gored to death on the other end of the phone by a deer. Needless to say, they didn't get there in time to save him and Judy still has nightmares about the whole thing 50+ years later.
Oh there are just so many!
Many times I've walked people through CPR after someone calls 911 to say their spouse isn't breathing - crew arrives and finds an elderly patient doing CPR on a blanket or a pillow.. no ill intent just mental health problems.
Took a call where a guy was stabbed - just wanted to keep him talking so asked if he knew who did it - he named the guy and then stopped responding seconds later - dead when the crew arrived.
Fairly rare but we sometimes get calls from people saying their pet isn't breathing or is choking and they want us to walk them through CPR or send help.
I've taken three calls where people chopped off their penis. Two of them were sitting in a tub, one had microwaved it.
I would say > 50% of all calls are related to drugs and alcohol.. maybe 25% are mental health related and then 25% random accidents or medical emergencies.
Private security/emergency control room operator here.
I have a lot of different stories I can share so here's just one.
We recieved a call from a lady but when you work at a job for a decent amount of time like that you start to recognize your clients voices. We immediately knew it was the local town crazy, let's call her P.
Now, P was certified batty and insane. If you worked nightshift and worked the inbound calls you would dread getting a call from her because she claims she sees ghosts, that her neighbours try to kill her every night and that her family is in on the thing because they keep trying to take her to an asylum but P refuses to do so because she claims she is mentally well.
The family tried getting the police take her in but because there is no certifiable evidence that she is insane they couldn't do anything about it.
I've worked there for 3 years and she phone about every night even from before I started there. Right, so this one fateful night guess who was working inbound that night...
Right off the bat when I answered she said she "saw" a spirit come out of her and she knows definitely it's her neighbours that are trying to steal her soul, she also mentions how scared her cat looks and how desperately it's trying to claw its way out for her to open the window.
She says this is odd behaviour of her cat but she mentions it every time she calls how the cat is trying to get out, seems she forgets every conversation from previous nights.
Now I just calmly tell her we can send a response officer to patrol the area as that usually appeases her then we hang up and that's that for the night... Usually.
2 hours later we recieve a panic from wouldn't ya know, the neighbours of P. She was trying to break in and stab them with a knife, she kept claiming that they tried to steal her soul and she won't allow them to harm anyone else.
Needless to say, police got called in, they saw how crazy she was, she got sent to an asylum 2 provinces over and we haven't heard of her since.
Kinda scary that I was the last person she talked to before she decided to try and kill her neighbours. Chilling.
And that's just one story...
Coast Guard command center, so the maritime version of 911 (you call "MAYDAY" on the radio, I pick up). Probably when I got the call that we lost one of our own helicopters. I never saw the report, but from what I gathered they were trying to take off and the winds (this was hurricane response) caused them to crash at takeoff. Everyone got out and no lasting injuries, but the helo caught fire and I'm pretty sure had to be scrapped. For sure one of the more memorable ones since it's different when it's "one of your own" and also aircraft emergencies tend to kill people a lot better than sinking boats.
Put It In The Pizza
Scariest was an elderly woman who was vacuuming her carpet and saw large footprints in the carpet she had already vacuumed. She didn't hear anything but was terrified. Turns out her grandson had broken in and hid in the closet when she had her back turned and the noise of the vacuum cleaner could cover it up.
Strangest was a woman who called and reported that she had been robbed by a police officer and that she wanted to report him. She didn't have a name or description of the officer, but claimed "it was one of you guys." She said the officer came to her house, took her money and left. She couldn't give us enough info and refused to give us an address, so she ended up hanging up.
She called back a little later and had the same story, except it wasn't an officer, but someone with a logo shirt and hat approached her at her apartment, took her money and left. Again, refused to give us more info or her location and hung up on us. This happened a few more times that night, with the story becoming a little clearer every time. By the time the morning came, we had deduced that she had simply ordered a pizza and paid for it.
A Call From Across The Sea
I got a 911 call from a different country. Always doublecheck your VOIP emergency settings. Its led to a few avoidable deaths.
So I was working nightshift when i get a call about a girl being followed. She kept on mentioning a nearby shop and burger king as her location. The location sounded like it was a spanish supermarket. Thinking it was night time, I instructed her to go to a well lit, public place where it would be hard to be dragged away from, which was the burger king.
My google mapsfu, which was usually on point was failing me. I couldn't get the spelling of the name of the place and needed to clarify which part of the metro area she was in, so I asked her what city she was in. She replied by saying,"I'm in florence" "Florence, (US STATE)?" "No, Florence, Italy".
I ended the call by telling her to change the phone's settings to local 911/get help from the burger king. I don't know why she didn't realize that the 911 operator responded in perfect English with a Southern accent wasn't Italian. She was on a study abroad and probably had her home police number set up in Voip when she called 911. I spent the rest of the night confused, thinking I was hallucinating. I told my supervisor in the morning at shift change about it and she confirmed it when I came back later for my next shift.
This Could Have Been Bad
My old house mate was a paramedic and I remember him telling me about a time he (and loads of other ambulances) had been scrambled to the city airport because there was a passenger jet (737 or similar) on approach and in trouble.
Luckily that plane landed without incident. Apparently it happens far more than most of us are aware of but better safe than sorry I guess!
I'd need closure. I worked in substance misuse and one Friday afternoon, last minute, I picked up the phone. It was a suicidal client. All the medical staff had left, and there was just me, admin person, trying to talk her down and advising her who else to call etc.
I worried all weekend. First thing Monday morning I was on the phone to the local hospital, hoping to hell she hadn't actually done it and I'd been the last person she spoke to. Luckily no, however she died from a heroin overdose a year later.
Talk to my Mom
It's not scary in the sense of creepy, but it really affected my mom and she had to take a break for a while after it. My mom works in the psychological support line for the 911, meaning that if somebody calls because they're just too sad, lonely, overwhelmed or just want someone to talk to, the call gets transferred to my mom.
She got a call at the end of her shift that night and it was a guy around my age who simply stated he was sad and did not want to be alone that night. My mom asked the regular questions just to make sure that he was safe and continued talking to him.
He told her about how his parents abused him since he was very little, he told her every detail of it, he explained to her that that was the reason he did not have any friends or close family members, how he lived alone now and he cried a lot every night. My mom continued talking to him, when he suddenly says he feels very sleepy and he might have to hang up soon, my mom knows this is usually a sign that he might've taken something, so she dispatches an ambulance to his house and tries to keep him on the line.
The ambulance took 2 hours to get to his house because they said it was not an emergency, even though my mom told them it was and she was certain about it. She stayed on the line for 2 hours trying to get this person to stay awake and continue talking because the ambulance took so long, until he eventually stopped replying to her. When they got there, he was already dead, he was lying on the couch with the phone on his hand and my mom on the line.
Not a 911 operator but a paramedic strangest/scariest would have to be when we got a dispatch for a cardiac arrest the dispatcher told us that a woman had found her sister in a bag and was screaming about not being able to find her legs but was too hysterical to answer any clarifying questions. Turns out the woman had gone to her sisters house because they hadn't seen or heard from her in a week which was odd. She found her sister dismembered in a trash bag in the back yard and some of her limbs were in a burn barrel near by. Sister's husband had killed her and was trying to dispose of the body.
3 years ago a 5yo girl found her parents dead in their bedroom with blood all over the place and a bullet on the floor, she was in the backyard and heard some shots and after 2 hours of hiding she found the body.
I have a friend who works for a crisis line. A call came through from a guy standing on the wrong side of the barrier on a bridge, he was ready to jump. After some time my friend convinced him to climb over onto the right side, as he was climbing over he slipped and fell off the bridge. His family will never know that he had actually changed his mind and it wasn't suicide. My friend was gutted.
I've taken calls from kids in domestic situations and it always sucks hearing how scared they are. At least scared kids are better on the phone than scared adults.
PTSD by Proxy
Filled in as a 911 operator and dispatcher for a rural County a few decades ago. Got a call for an MVA one night. The car had gone off a 60 foot embankment ending up upside down in a shallow river. As calls played out, there had been 6 occupants all deceased. Bodies found from the accident site to half mile down river. 3 of the occupants had been friends or acquaintances of mine. The stress of knowing that and taking calls from family members i knew most of the night soured my young self on the job. Please give rural first responders extra support. PTSD by proxy is a real thing.
the last goodbyes....
I once got a call from a individual who's mom passed away a day prior, he stayed the night with his mom. Washed her, changed her, brushed her hair, and then cuddled her through the night before calling.... in the end he just wanted to say his last good byes. He went on to seek psychiatric help after the event to assist with the passing.
Off the Cliff
My night shift just took a call this weekend where a guy drove an atv off a 200 foot cliff. Dude obviously didn't make it but he wasn't dead on scene.
Edit: also, side note, working one county over from where all my family lives terrifies me, because just happen to dispatch ambulance for that county in addition to mine. It's a matter of time until I work a call on family.
You Killed Him!!
Not scary or strange, just... sad. I received a call from a man who's father was having a heart attack. It was a rural area, and although most people knew each other, it was policy not to use anyone's name on the radio. I toned and dispatched the ambulance service and gave a play-by-play of directions on country roads from the caller to the ambulance service. It took them almost 20 minutes to get out to the area of the farm where the patient was. Toward the end, they had trouble finding them, and I had to ask the caller several times to repeat the directions. The patient didn't make it, largely due to the time it took the responders to arrive.
About two hours later, the sheriff, ambulance and fire chief, and the caller arrive at the jail where we dispatched. The caller was yelling at me saying "You killed my father!" over and over again. It wasn't until he listened to the tape of the call, and learned that in his panic he gave me the wrong directions, did he stop. I was told that If I had been allowed to use the victims name on the radio - the driver would have known exactly where to go. The fire chief and sheriff tried to console me, but I was a wreck for weeks. That was the most traumatic for me, and I've not talked about it for years.
Worked as a 911 dispatcher while I was in undergrad for a rural town in Appalachia. It was about 45 minutes from campus and on night shift we could go literally hours without a call and I could study.
The last call I took was from a woman who drove around flood water signs with her kid in the car.
Edit: I'm ok guys thanks. This was nearly twenty years ago.
The Big City
Not an Operator. But I'm a big city Cop. I've had 4 kids die in my arms/presence.
2016, had a 5 year old kid literally die in my arms after he got hit by an old Ford F-350 truck. Kid was getting Ice Cream from Ice Cream truck and goes to cross the street and go back home. Dad is blasted drunk and sees Truck coming. Goes to grab kid, but trips him into the street instead. Truck hits him and drags him 25 feet.
I was driving down a Main Street just north. Got to the scene about 20 seconds after dispatch puts out the call.
I pull up and see the kid laying in the street. Mom and Dad are screaming in Spanish for me to save him. But kids skull is crushed. Started CPR while Fire arrived. I pick the kid up to load him on gurney to save time, and he took his last breath in my arms. Fire took him anyway but he was gone.
I hate wearing lotion because it feels the same as the kids blood did on my arms that day.
The other kids were pool drownings and vehicle ejections.
On the Ferry
Summer of 2019 I worked the tourist info booth for my very rural home town. One night mod summer while waiting for the ferry to come in (usually pulled in around 5pm after a 12 hour trip from lower on the coast) we got word the boat was delayed due to a plane crash, since they were the nearest ship and had two doctors on board so had to assist. When the ferry finally arrived the next day I had to deal with a couple passengers who were endlessly b!tching that the coast guard specifically asked for assistance from their boat and how angry that they were one day late for their reservations at an empty campground.
The Tragic Accident
Not an operator myself, but used to know one. She always said the toughest calls were from parents that had accidentally hurt their kids...
She once got one from a dad who had accidentally backed over his son playing in the driveway with his car... She didn't think that man would ever get right again. She wasn't sure she would...
She also had more than one calls from parents that had brought their babies into bed with them... rolled onto them in the night and suffocated them...
Those were the ones that haunted her.... the ones where she knew she couldn't help.... not the injured, nor the ones that had caused the injury...
I had a woman who was hiding under her bed. 2 men had broken into her house and was holding her boyfriend hostage in the bathroom and they didn't realize she was there under the bed. She was pregnant at the time and got wedged under the bed and stuck. I was 5 months pregnant at the time so it was very memorable. A deputy happened to be close by and got there in less than 4 minutes but they had already shot and killed the boyfriend. Hearing his screaming and then her screaming when she realized he was dead will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Not a 911 operator. I worked for a British call center (offshore I'm from Zululand) I kept getting calls from people trying to get through to family members during the Grenfell Towers fire. I reported this multiple times to management and felt helpless. People would call in and just cry. I remember Googling numbers for local police but I was getting into trouble for spending too long on calls.
I would look at the account (not giving any account info) and see the last activity was hours before for someone who normally constantly used their phone. We were given instructions from the UK to release the call if it wasn't someone from our network. Eventually DAYS later they decided to give new phones free to the victims who survived and needed the help. The pain in their voices hurt me really badly.
Not me but my Mom is a Herald of the EMS Gods (whereas, I am just a lowly street runner). She took a call back in 2012, where it was a homicide and the caller was eventually convicted for said homicide. She actually had to testify in court. I heard the call when she was preparing to testify earlier this year. It wasn't much but my mom even said that something didn't feel right about it and was trying to get additional info out of him. He said stuff like "she's bleeding from her neck" "she's not breathing." Fairly standard stuff. The thing was he was the convicted murder on the phone.
Not my story but my friend's so this is a short one....
So she was just doing her job and a drunk guy called 911 because his neighbors had just attended funeral so they were "crying to loud" and when she said that's not mean emergency and that he's being rude he said "I'll find you and I will freaking kill you and your whole family then burn your house and through your dead body into a lake" then she hung up.
I am not an operator but on another Reddit thread I remember reading things similar to this one. One that always stuck with me, is when Katrina was happening, the calls were overwhelming the system, so they were being routed to a town or so over period one woman who commented on the thread said she remembered a lady who was in the Attic of her home but couldn't get out of the Attic window onto her roof because the window opening was too small and her body couldn't fit. She talked to the lady until the lady died from the flood water.
MeowOn My Way Goodbye GIF by Bubble PunkGiphy
Old lady called to complain that a cat was on her bed... it was her cat.
I was an ambulance dispatcher and my twin brother was an EMT. I may have told this before, but it's genuinely the biggest, most immediate, and most visceral "Oh F**k."
I was working a typical day with three coworkers: My work husband, a narcissist, and an idiot. Twin Bro was in Kansas, doing a long-distance transport. (We lived and worked in the Denver area, but long-distance transports happen sometimes.)
Work Husband picked up the ambulance crew line, and stayed on the line for a surprisingly long time. When he hung up, he said that Twin Bro and his partner were caught in a hailstorm, and their ambulance was being hit by tennis ball sized hail. Their windshield was taking heavy damage.
Crap immediately hit the fan. Narcissist called his favorite supervisor, ostensibly to advise Supervisor of the situation, but actually to get a bunch of attention. He stopped doing his work. Idiot immediately stopped doing her work, ran over to Work Husband, and freaked out about it in her outside voice: "OH MY GOD, WHAT ARE THEY GONNA DO... OMG insertcaffeine ARE YOU JUST, LIKE, FREAKING OUT BECAUSE YOUR BROTHER'S OUT THERE?"
My answer: "I don't freaking have time."
I got the crew's location, then frantically started googling stuff: PSAP phone number (how to reach 911 where Twin Bro was), auto glass shop, hospital, hotel, and body shop. I paged it to Twin Bro. Then, because Narcissist and Idiot weren't doing their work, I picked that up. I answered phone calls for transfers, answered phone calls from their crews, and dispatched their ambulances.
I ended up leaving a couple hours after they called, not knowing if they'd make it back. A few hours after I got home, I got a text from Twin Bro. He'd made it back. The relief and the release of stress hit me like a ton of bricks and reduced me to a blubbering, ugly crying mess.
My dad used to be a dispatcher. I can vividly remember one night he came home after a shift and just woke me up and held me and cried. He had been on the phone with a mother whose 5 year old daughter's head got stuck out the car window while they were driving. A semi drifted smashing her head and decapitating her. The woman was injured being ran off the road. He was visibly shaken and so sad.
Screaming on the Inside
Not me, but my sister is a dispatcher. One time she received a call from a man who said he just killed his sister and brother. She kept him on the phone for 5 or 6 minutes to make sure he didn't run before officers arrived. She got him to admit they had all been drinking and playing cards, then got into an argument when one of them accused the other of cheating. The other two went to bed, but this guy stayed up stewing. Apparently he couldn't let it go. He shot each of them in their beds while they slept, then called 911. I heard a partial recording of the call and she sounded calm AF. She told me she was screaming on the inside the entire time.
For my own personal story, I am not or ever was a responder, but on a separate thread I was reading tonight, was talking about a lady named Denise Lee that got abducted from her home in front of her two Children band later killed even though there were FIVE 911 calls about her abduction, inducing a lady who watched it unfold before her. Apparently up until then, this happened in 2008, operators didn't require any sorts of training, and so that incident changed the way they are hired I think maybe it is just optional training that is provided, and her parents and her foundation are trying to get it to be full training and certification for anyone who wants to be an operator.
Too Much to Hear
911 dispatcher for 13 years here. Scariest call I ever took was a man who told me about how he set his girlfriend on fire. He walked into a gas station smelling like gasoline and asked them to call 911 so he could turn himself in. They then put the man on the phone with me and he said that he thought she was "running around on him" and he couldn't take it so he just sat her on fire. I had to talk to the man and make sure he'd turn himself in peacefully.
I was a dispatcher for a residential alarm company similar to ADT. I would call people when their alarm was tripped and ask them if they were okay. One day I received a signal from a residence from a glass break sensor on a window in the bathroom. When i called the lady was laughing so hard she could barely give me her safety password.
Turns out she was cleaning her bathroom and when she bent over she farted so hard and loud it set off the sensor on the bathroom window.
Hold on Ms....
Older lady, I want to say maybe early 70s, calls in with a sort of polite urgency in her voice, tells me she thinks she's having a stroke. Tells me she has her grandchild at the house with her, asks me to call her daughter to come get the child.
By the time she's done giving me the phone number there's just a very slight slur in her speech. By the time EMS got there (probably no more than 5 minutes or so) I couldn't understand a thing she was saying. Fascinating, disturbing, and profoundly sad hearing someone stroke out on the phone as they're talking to you.
I'll go with a lighter one. I once had an elderly woman complain that gang members tagged her shed. She also said she didn't want a black deputy (this is the south). The (black) deputy arrived and found that it wasn't spray paint, but that her shed was so dirty that slugs had eaten paths in the filth that created patterns.
Listen Closelyaroused goat GIFGiphy
Had some one call saying a man had been killed by a goat. Turns out goat is what they also call the machine that picks oranges off of trees. Miscommunication can be horrifying.
So when I was younger I had a friend that lived right by the highway and one day we were hanging out on the porch and a very bad accident happened and everybody lived but a couple of them had broken bones and they were all screaming at us to call 911, and this was in 2005, and I called 911 over and over and it just rang and rang and rang each time I mean it was a Tuesday morning that was not busy and we live in a midsize town.
Stay with me....
For me, the worst ones are always the calls you can relate to on a personal level. I took a call last month from a father who discovered his son with a bag over his head and a note next to his body. I've taken a ton of suicide calls, but this one was particularly difficult for me because the son was my age, and the way the father pleaded with his son was almost exactly the same way I've imagined my dad if I were to ever do the same.
I've had the same "Come on, buddy! Don't do this to me!" running in my head at least 2-3 times a day since.
Also, not technically a call but my first shift on my own, I dispatched the deputy I did my ride along with to a domestic that he ended up being shot and killed at. Hearing his blood-gurgled "shots fired" scream on the radio won't be something I'll ever forget.
DUDE! My Dog!
Well, my buddy is a fireman and dispatch had just alerted them of a man having chest pains. They get to the guys house, and as soon as they open the door, the dude's dog runs outside. The dude shouts "you let my dog out! go get my dog! Please!" So my buddy immediately starts chasing the dog.
He catches the dog, comes back to the house, and when he walks in the door he sees that the man having "chest pains" had actually shot a HOLE IN HIS CHEST while cleaning his gun.
Old dude shoots himself in the chest, tells 911 it's chest pains, and when help arrives, he makes them go chase his dog down before tending to his own life threatening wound. Biggest WTF of my buddies career.
You check first
"A woman complaining of spiders in her vagina"
In college, I worked as an EMT in a major city. Not the craziest call I ever had but one of the wackiest call outs we ever got was to respond to "a woman complaining of spiders in her vagina". I'll never forget pulling up to this major intersection where, sure enough, there's this old lady lying on the sidewalk with her pants off and legs spread up in the air. Turns out it was this transient lady in her 70s who had been having some wild hallucinations.
We still had to check for spiders. :(
No that is not NormalThe Office No GIFGiphy
Not 911, but tele-nursing, people called me plenty when it should have been 911.
Grandma, calls me about her 16 year old, 40 week pregnant, grand daughter.
GM: Hey my grandbaby is pregnant and she just went to pee and said the cord is hanging out....is that normal?
Me: No.....not even a little bit.
On the floor
112 dispatcher amongst other things. My job is actually a fireman but due to the structure of the fire department where I live we are also taking calls.
Anyway got a call once from a lady who wanted assistance because she fell on the floor, lived alone and had trouble standing up. Pretty common so I sent a crew out there. They come back and they tell me she was kind of disappointed. This call kept happening for the next few days till we understood what was going on. She had a crush on one of my colleagues and she just wanted him to visit her. When she finally put together when his shift was working, they only had her calls ever since.
I'm sure he was this way because of shock.
The way each person reacted in each call stuck with me. Both of these incidents were on different ends of the spectrum as far as life changing events. Yet the responses each caller had to the event was not what I would've expected. But everyone that genuinely calls 911 (or in my case 000) is having a really bad day.
don't come to the garage.....
After a while they all blend together but I do have one call that I remember at times.
A wife called because she found a note in the kitchen saying "call 911, don't come to the garage." I guess her husband was chronically ill and decided to commit suicide on Mother's Day while his wife and daughter were out. The hardest part for me was pleading with the teenaged daughter to stay outside and wait for first responders.
Good Days/Bad Days
Oh man. I helped deliver a couple of babies, which was awesome and a positive in a largely negative job.
I'll never forget the time that a girl called and said her friend shot himself. She did not know the address of where they were, but she knew the general location. I had to tell her to look around and yell out everything she saw.
I used the satellite view on google maps to find her location based on what she told me.
Helping parents perform CPR on a newborn is one of the worst things ever.
I probably have more, but digging that stuff up isn't always the greatest.
Lights Up!happy girl GIF by Children's Miracle Network HospitalsGiphy
During a power outage, I got screamed at by a man who demanded to know why he didn't have power when a car JUST drove by with its lights on!