Life as a 911 operator is a stressful one. You receive the most desperate phone calls you could ever imagine and there is little more you can do once the call has been dispatched. Instead, you are left to hear tortured cries and agony from the callers on the line.
These 16 stories will break your heart as 911 dispatchers poor their hearts out and talk about their most intense calls. It really makes you appreciate the hard work that they do.
A Prank Call That Wasn’t A Prank
“I had a call that started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious:
Me: ‘911, where is your emergency?’
Caller: ‘123 Main St.’
Me: ‘Ok, what’s going on there?’
Caller: ‘I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.’ (Oh great, another prank call.)
Me: ‘Ma’am, you’ve reached 911.’
Caller: ‘Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom, and peppers?’
Me: ‘Ummm… I’m sorry, you know you’ve called 911 right?’
Caller: ‘Yeah, do you know how long it will be?’
Me: ‘Ok, Ma’am, is everything ok over there? do you have an emergency?’
Caller: ‘Yes, I do.’
Me: ‘…And you can’t talk about it because there’s someone in the room with you?’ (My moment of realization)
Caller: ‘Yes, that’s correct. Do you know how long it will be?’
Me: ‘I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?’
Me: ‘Can you stay on the phone with me?’
Caller: ‘Nope. See you soon, thanks.’
As we dispatch the call, I check the history at the address and see there are multiple previous calls about domestic issues. The officer arrives and finds a couple — the female was in bad shape, and the boyfriend was there too. The officer arrests him after she explains that the boyfriend had been mistreating her for a while. I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick. Other dispatchers I worked with had similar things happen, but that was a first for me. So in short, this wasn’t a dumb call, it just started out that way.”
At Night, The Crazy Ones Come Out
“I work overnight so most of the time the calls we get are pretty legit. But occasionally…
I’ve had a guy call in because he was looking at the weather radar and said that law enforcement, NOAA, and the CIA were covering up the fact that the storm he was looking at was going to destroy the city. There was no storm. There was no rain or wind. It was clear outside, had been for weeks and remained that way for weeks afterward.
Another woman called in because she said someone broke into her home and was now currently sitting on her couch looking at his phone. She said some noise woke her up and she saw the light on his phone when she opened the bedroom door. I asked the usual questions including if she had a dog and whether it was alerted to the noise. She said the dog was asleep on the bed and that he usually barks at strange noises (a huge clue that nothing is happening, most dogs will alert to strange noises at night). An officer goes on the scene doesn’t see anything. Turns out the light she saw was from one of those electronic picture frames, that she owned, and knew about.
Another break-in call. A woman called at around 2:30 in the morning, said she heard someone knocking on her door and heard some noises outside. I got two or three officers headed her way. Through our conversation, I found out she was hiding in the closet. Then I asked when the last time she heard or saw something strange. She got very quiet and said that she last heard something at around 11 pm. Turns out she had been working up the nerve to call 911, sitting in the closet for three and a half hours.
These are some of the more memorable ones I’ve had recently.”
Some Of The Calls Are Insane
“I had a guy call me one night and tell me he had died. Obviously, I was pretty sure he was incorrect in his diagnosis so I started questioning him. He would not tell me where he was but I could hear him walking around (leaves underfoot and such). This was in the fall and it was cold outside. I was asking him what he could see and all he would tell me is that he died and needed me to call his mom and tell her, but wouldn’t give me her name or a phone number. Eventually, the police dispatcher (who was still listening on the line) was able to get enough clues from him to make an educated guess as to his location. Sure enough, the police officers found him in a cemetery, naked and zoned out and sitting on a random headstone. He was most assuredly not dead.
Another dispatcher friend of mine had a person call and tell us that ‘she’ wasn’t looking too good and needed an ambulance. They question the caller and start CPR instructions. It took several minutes for the crew to make a scene and when they entered they found our caller performing CPR on a bathrobe. The caller had recently moved to our coverage area and had been in a mental facility beforehand.
Also, when I worked on the law enforcement side, people would frequently call to get the correct time to set their clocks. They knew that we had atomic clocks and ours were always correct.”
A Break In Turns Deadly
“This one was probably the hardest call I’ve ever taken. The phone rings and there is a little girl on the phone. She is screaming, ‘Daddy is dead.’ I can’t calm her down at all, she keeps crying on the line, and in the background, I can hear two other small girls crying.
I was watching our call logs and more and more calls are coming in the same area for shots fired. Three guys decided to break into a house and thought it was empty, so they rang the doorbell to make sure. The dad startled them and they shot him. The mother ran out to see what happened and she got shot as well. The guys took off leaving the three girls aged 8 to 12 years old to call 911. We are not allowed to disconnect a phone until police or EMS are on the scene.
My heart was breaking for a small family that had seemingly lost both parents in one sad accident. I listened to the girl for six minutes and 37 seconds before officers arrived on the scene.
The good news is that the mother lived.”
It Wasn’t A Murder He Was Reporting
“It wasn’t my call, but one we had to listen to in training to prepare us for what we were getting into. Guy calls 911 to say there’s a body in his house. They go through their routine, eventually getting the name of the deceased. That’s where things get odd.
When you call 911, a caller ID displays your information so we can confirm it. When the man gave the operator the name of the deceased, it was the same as the caller ID. The operator tells him she needs the deceased man’s name, not his, as they’d already confirmed it.
In a completely normal tone, he replies with the most cringe-worthy response.