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911 operators have a front row seat to the moments when people are most stressed out.

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Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Unless you've just realized a lifelong dream of becoming a doctor, finding yourself in the hospital is not a joyous occasion.

Whether you are patient, employee, or concerned loved one, the hospital is a place known for its high-stress elements, morbid realities, and involuntary bodily functions.

All of those common elements can be quite scary, especially while you're in that heightened state of mental stress.

Plenty of Redditors know that full well, and from personal experience. They shared their stories.

le_kif420 asked, "What was the most terrifying thing that you've experienced while staying in a hospital?"

Many Redditors found it scariest to wake up in a hospital bed. Often disoriented, under the influence of drugs, or generally worried for their safety, the moments after the eyes open can be full of panic.

The In-Between World 

"I was strapped down and on a ventilator. I woke up and I was on heavy drugs so I kept thinking I was in a very bad dream and and trying to get out."

"I only did that a couple times but I remember having to be told it was real and not a dream. Whatever I think is real is the dream. And after a few seconds it would clear up."

-- LoveAndDynamite

A Regular Refresher

"When I woke up in the hospital buckled to the bed and didn't know why I was there. Happened more than once because it was for a brain injury and I couldn't remember why I was there so I kept trying to escape."

"They ended up writing on a whiteboard at the end of my bed that I'm supposed to be there and stuff."

-- Zeliv

Way Too Public 

"I had intestinal surgery when I was about 13. Recovery was about 7 days to be sure that all the plumbing was working properly."

"Well about the 5th day I had woken up to a fairly large wet spot covering my crotch and gown."

"Turns out I had a wet dream and was still unable to move easily to clean myself so I had to inform the nurse. I know it's not much compared to these others, but to a 13 year old it was a nightmare!"

-- 19rotuken84

Too Many Tubes 

"It really wasn't that bad but I was 5 and very very scared. It was after waking up from anaesthesia after having my tonsils removed. Due to a genetic thing painkillers or anything anesthetic doesn't really affect me."

"So I wake up and I am in a huge amount of pain, I'm surrounded by strangers and I can't talk. And then I see the bandage on my arm from the IV and start crying."

"It felt like forever until my Dad and Mom were there. But definitely being alone, in pain and unable to voice it was the scariest thing for me."

-- thetikwthethirteenth

For others, it was all about the screams.

The other people around them in the hospital were in far more pain or anguish than these Redditors, but there involuntary outbursts were enough to make them shutter.

A Lot for a 12-Year-Old to See 

"Was about 12 years old got bit by a poisonous spider. In ER for it. The guy in the next curtain was apperently shot and stabbed with knife still in him."

"Nurses opened the curtain didnt realize me and my dad were in the next area over and so I saw a guy scream and holding in a knife in his gut."

-- HaereticiGarnifex

A Tragic Twist 

"I was in a car accident with my mom back in 1999 here in Texas. A large van ran the red light at a four way intersection and t-boned us. The accident was so bad they took us all by ambulance to the emergency room."

"The people who hit my mom and I were in the room next to us. The woman was heavily pregnant but explained to the doctors something felt off for many, many weeks but that her doctor in Mexico said the baby was fine."

"The ER doctors did an ultrasound and determined her baby was dead and that it wasn't due to the accident - they figured the baby had been dead for WEEKS."

"I'll never forget that woman's screams. It was heartbreaking. She kept screaming 'get it out of me, get it out of me.' "

"I'll never forget that moment."

-- isithalloweenyet

A Pop and A Scream 

"I spent some time in a psych ward as a kid. It was a bad place and pretty abusive. One of the staff members broke another kids arm and I remember hearing the boy screaming as it happened and afterwards."

"It was scary especially because we had no agency between being kids and psych patients so the staff had total control."

-- Heartlast

Others recalled the procedures they themselves endured. At the time, they were concerned, in pain, and frantic. They hope to never find themselves in that spot again.

ER Trip

"In the ER and was given an IV push for pain and left alone in a treatment room. I had a bad reaction to the medication (found out later, I can't have any form of opiates, real or synthetic, as I have a bad reaction.) In short, I tripped my fu**ing A** off, while bleeding heavily, and whatever they gave me seriously slowed my HR and my BP tanked."

"I'm not sure what was more terrifying: being fully conscious and aware in a body that is slowly shutting down, or being convinced there's a 7 foot tall shadow demon standing at the foot of your bed to take you to Hell when it's over."

-- geminiloveca

AHHHH

"It wasn't terrifying but the most awful thing I've ever felt. I had a drain put in after having my gallbladder removed and the next day the nurse came in to take it."

"That things was in there about 6/7 inches, right up into my stomach and she just slowly pulled it out. Oh a still shudder thinking about it."

-- thatisyucky

Close Call 

"Giving birth. I lost a lot of blood, I was lying in bed and feeling really weak and cold when someone from the staff came to check on me."

"I asked if that's what it feels like to die, she didn't seem to take it seriously until she had checked some stuff at which point she got others there and then last thing I remember is them putting some mask on me, thinking I was going to die."

"Reading the journal it was initially estimated to be 0.8L blood loss but it was more than double that I lost. If she had checked on me later, I probably would have lost more blood."

-- jpesj


Hopefully, you never find yourself in the hospital facing such concerning moments like these ones. But if you do, know that you're not alone.

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

*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.

Almost Clinical 

"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."

-- iunoyou

Planned Out 

"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."

-- mozgw4

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."

-- tasha7712

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."

-- SmokeEater509

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."

-- bitchyhouseplant

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."

-- OntaiSenpuu

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."

-- dangitjon

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."

-- Blueflowerbluehair

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."

-- 2FunBoofer

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."

-- HIRSH2243

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."

-- AeonianAlpaca

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."

-- mozgw4

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."

-- GarlicAndCheese

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."

-- Punkerduckie

Unbelievable Intensity

"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."

-- duckyfy

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."

-- iGoBuMpInThEdArKbOoO


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.

Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

If you want to be ready when an emergency strikes--or isn't far away--it's so important to have a developed foundation of preparedness.

In the midst of a sudden crisis, blood pumping and heart racing, devising what to do out of the blue is just about impossible.

But if you've studied ahead of time, and even practiced if you're really good, you won't have to devise anything. You'll just act. And you'll act correctly.

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Image by succo from Pixabay

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?
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