You're bound to hear some terrifying stuff when you're on-call for emergency situations. But not even years worth of training could prepare these first responders for the terrifying sights they saw when they were on the job.
We found what first responders on Reddit had to say about the worst calls that they've ever had to deal with and they are really harrowing. It really makes you appreciate the hard work that these responders do every single day! Content has been edited for clarity.
“That Was My First Exposure To Mental Illness”
“I was new on the force and sent to a home invasion in progress late in the night. I noticed my training officer didn’t seem to be too concerned and responded slowly as opposed to the normal emergency response for crimes in progress. Upon arrival, he asked me if I had been to the home before. After I said no, he told me to go handle the call…
As I walked towards the home, the garage opened and an elderly lady who was bent at a 90° angle at her waist hobbled out. Without looking at me, she said to hurry due to the fact that the two black male suspects were still In the home (she used much more colorful and racist language). I noted that she couldn’t straighten her back and realized she was a bit off mentally.
I then walked into the home with her behind me. While my eyes adjusted to the interior, I heard a click. I turned to find the lady locking two padlocks on the interior of the door. I then noted as we were in the kitchen, that every cabinet and pantry also had a secured padlock on their doors. I looked down the hallway and found that every interior door of the small home was shut and secured with padlocks.
I followed the elderly woman down the hall to the second door on the left. She began to unlock the padlock to the door and shouted, ‘They are in here!’ To my surprise, within the room, there was an older white guy sitting at a table using a desktop computer. He looked at me, greeted me, identified himself as the woman’s husband, and then went back to whatever he was doing. The woman then pointed at an empty chair and began to yell, ‘They are under the chair! Oh No! They just ran outside right there !’ The woman was pointing at a wall.
After waiting for the woman to lock her husband back into the room, and then waiting for her to let me out of the kitchen door, I cursed my training officer and high tailed it out of there. That was my first exposure to mental illness and it was creepy.
My training officer said the woman had supposedly been assaulted by two black males years ago which had caused her mental break and her animosity towards those of the race.”
This Case Was Closer To Him Than He Even Realized
“My father has been an officer for 20+ years and this story is probably the worst thing he has ever had to do. My father and I were heading to the range one day. We were in his police vehicle since we were going to the shooting range for local law enforcement personnel. Dispatch came over the radio to get an officer out to a 911 call of a possible dead body. Many of the officers joked over the radio that it was probably a prank or someone overreacting since it was around Halloween. The responding officer arrives at the scene and calls in that he is going into the woods to investigate. A few minutes later he sends out a call confirming it’s an actual dead body and to get the necessary resources sent out to assist. Then the responding officer personally calls my father because he recognized the body. It was my dad’s brother.
He had been having rough times and decided to end it by hanging himself from a tree 50 yards into the woods next to railroad tracks. The second worst part was that he had been reported missing for a few months. So by the time they found his body, he was severely rotted. The worst part was that my father had to go to assist in the removal and scene investigation. That day was the first time I ever saw my father cry and I was in my mid-teens.”
Who Was On The Other Line?
“I received a call from an elderly lady who had trouble breathing. I had taken several calls from her and her husband in the past so I recognized her voice. I dispatched an ambulance to her residence and held her on the line trying to keep her calm while the ambulance was responding. Ambulance advises that they a 15 minute ETA (she lived in a very rural part of WV). I’m talking to her asking about her husband and how he was doing and just making small talk with her. The ambulance calls in and advises they are on scene and I let them know that she is in severe respiratory distress and I still had her on the line. I let her know the ambulance is coming to the door and tell her to go answer the door and she says okay and hangs up the phone.
Pretty normal, yeah? Well here’s where it gets weird. The EMT and Paramedic on scene call back about a minute later and advises no one is answering the door. We have a Sheriff Unit who was in the area pulling on the scene about that time. The Sheriff Unit confirmed the address and advised he is breaching the door to make access to the PT. 5 minutes go by and the Paramedic on scene radios in asking who the caller was. I advise it was the elderly female who lived at the residence. He tells me that he’s going to call in and needs to speak with the supervisor on shift. We get him over to the supervisor and the supervisor confirms the information that I gave him and asks what’s going on. Apparently, the elderly female had been dead for a while and was in already in full rigor mortis. They thought I was wrong on the caller but the other dispatchers played it back and confirmed that it was the female who called. The ambulance transferred the hospital and we got the same calls and disbelief from the doctors. I still don’t know what happened.”
Their Father’s Horror Stories Haunted Them For Life
“My dad just recently shared these stories with me. My grandfather was a cop in a small town in the 60’s-70’s. Late at night, it was common for officers to pull over vehicles driving through town, especially if they didn’t recognize them. He pulled over a busload of people. He walks through and asks them where they are headed, yada yada. They were headed to California, it was Charles Manson and his group.
Another story. Same grandfather, same stop: a car passing through protocol. Asked the driver where he was headed, shot the breeze for a while and told the guy to have a nice evening. Few towns over the guy gets pulled over again, shoots and kills the cop. Apparently, he was doing this as he drove along, get pulled over and shoot the cop. When they questioned him he said, he had been pulled over by my grandfather, but he was such a nice guy, he didn’t kill him, but he did have the weapon sitting in his lap.”
They Couldn’t Believe What They Found At The Scene
“I am interning with a Sheriff’s police department, so most of my time is spent on patrol.
We got called out to do a wellness check which the Deputy thought was going to be a piece of cake. We get there and are met by the neighbors who told us that the mail is piling up in the mailbox and that there are several untouched packages on the porch. Ok so we go up the house and the front door is unsecured, so we crack open the door a couple of inches and the Deputy calls inside, but the door won’t move anymore. It’s about this time that the deputy tells me that she is a known hoarder and that could be why the door was stuck. He also mentions that if we see flies on the inside of the windows she is most likely inside and deceased. As we walk around the side of the house we notice a lot of flies on the windows. The back door was locked and as we looked in we noticed bags on bags of garbage diapers and misc crap all over the place.
We head back to the front and attempt to make entry. He pushes the door open, this time with more force, and from underneath I see a grease-like liquid spreading out from under the door. The deputy stops, closes the door and calmly tells me that the lady was indeed dead, and wedged behind the door. From the dates of the packages, we concluded that she had been gone about two months. Once we did make entry into the house, I was allowed inside.
After two months, she didn’t even look like a human corpse. Her skin and body had sagged and melted to the floor and her face…her face was all black and had been eaten to the bone by maggots. I’ll never forget the smell when the coroners moved her and she popped. It was like a physical presence. Whatever those people get paid to deal with that crap, it’s not enough. The thing that really got to me though, was wondering if she had fallen down the stairs and died there, or if she fell and was unable to move, waiting for help that would never come.”
Seeing This Terrible Sight, They Couldn’t Help But Think Of Their Daughter
“I responded to a report of an unresponsive infant. When I arrived, all the family members were standing around casually in the front yard pointing into the house. I found the baby in the back room laying on her back on a bare mattress. I started CPR but realized the baby was probably already deceased. We rushed her out to the arriving ambulance hoping they had a way to bring her back. I learned she was the mother’s second suspicious SIDS death, and I had her other children removed from her care.
The difficult part was when I left the scene and went to the ER to see what came of the situation. As I walked in and asked where she was, an ER nurse walked over to me and handed me the deceased baby swaddled in a blanket and told me to wait for someone to show me to the morgue. So I’m standing there in the ER in uniform holding what everyone thinks is a live infant, but rather, an infant corpse, and several people stop by wanting to see her and commenting on how cute it is to see an officer holding a baby. I just smiled, but it killed me inside.
I was ushered back to the morgue after what felt like an eternity, and told I had to wait with the baby until the medical examiner arrived. They took the blankets off and laid her on a stainless steel gurney and left me alone with her again. I lounged around the morgue for about an hour waiting. By the time I got home several hours after the end of my shift (because this call came out 15 minutes before the end of my 10-hour shift) I laid down on my bed and cried for a long time. My young daughter was in daycare and my wife at work. I really needed to hold both of them, so the house felt incredibly empty. My daughter was only slightly older than the infant, and when I was looking at her earlier, I kept seeing my own daughter. I didn’t get any sleep at all before going back in for the next shift later that night.”
Be Careful What You Find In The Dark!
“I was a Parks Officer for a downtown metropolitan out in the Pacific Northwest. I saw my fair share of weird stuff on my 17:00-01:00 shift. Clothesless Bike ride after party at midnight with about a thousand or so clothesless people chilling out, the occasional couple fooling around, homeless people touching themselves or shooting up illegal stuff and the occasional dead body were all a normal part of the job.
Anyways, this one night we were sent to investigate a tent set up relatively near the waterfront, which was generally a homeless person that was trying to stay dry for the night. So we get there around 23:30 and tell the lady inside that she has to go a few hundred yards away to an area that isn’t patrolled. She fusses and complains about having to move then mentioned a man living in a ‘cave’ at the bottom of a shallow ravine nearby that’s been killing small animals and eating them. We ask her for more information and she points to a general area about 50 yards away through some thick brush, the general area most people wouldn’t wander past.
My partner and I start to walk through the thick brush with just our flashlights and eventually stumble upon the ravine, and sure enough, there is a small opening on the side enough for a person to fit in. I scale down about 20 feet and peek inside the opening and see what seems like a massive pile of magazines, torn pages, articles of clothing, a sugar cookie tin, a gorilla costume hand, some crude looking tools including a makeshift bow, a few knives, and other generally weird crap. Being curious, and that the ‘cave’ was empty, I opened the sugar cookie tin and found a large amount of what seemed like raw animal meat. At this point, I was thoroughly freaked out and decided to haul tail out the area and inform the police of what I had found (we didn’t carry weapons). We never found out what came of the guy who was staying there or what was going on there. But definitely freaky at around midnight in pitch black conditions.”
His Dad Still Remembers This Terrible Night Like It Was Yesterday
“My dad worked in a precinct with one of highest crime rates in NYC. I think it had the highest murder rate during his years on the job. Anyway, he won’t tell us stories about what he’s seen because they’re mostly horrific and still give him nightmares almost 15 years off the job. However, I do remember he told us one story when he was drinking.
A woman in her 20s walked into her apartment building late from work one night and was waiting for the elevator. It opened, and the only person in there was a creepy looking guy. Though apprehensive, she got in and pressed her floor number, but noticed that the basement button was pressed. Normally after 9 pm, maintenance would lock the basement button to prevent random people from going down there and messing with stuff. I guess someone forgot to lock it. The creepy guy ended up taking her down there, tying her up, and assaulting and torturing her for HOURS. He then took her apartment key, went up to the floor she’d pressed when she’d first gotten into the elevator, tried every door until he found hers, and took her roommate (also a woman in her 20s) into the basement, where he continued torturing and assaulting both of them until dawn. Maintenance found them that morning, and my dad was a responder.
Again, my dad never told us stories. This one might’ve stuck out because he has four daughters, but I think it’s gotta be up there in creepy factor.”
The Walking Dead
“My instructor was telling us about the great number of corpses we would see in our career and it came to us asking about his most memorable experience.
About 10 years back, he got a call for a suicide in someone’s house, he gets there before the firemen. The wife of the victim is crying in the front lawn in a state of shock.
The man is an ex-legionnaire and therefore owns a bunch of weapons (a pretty rare thing in France). My instructor gets in the house, crosses the living room to find the man in the kitchen sitting against the wall, lying next to a hunting weapon. He’s missing his entire face, no eyes, no nose, no jaw etc..
Out of precaution, my instructor takes his pulse and finds nothing. He then proceeds to freeze the scene, taking pictures and everything. The firemen and the doctor arrive, my instructor meets them on the front lawn next to the wife. One of the firemen, who’s a good friend of his, asks where the body is and he replies ‘just across the house; he’s in the kitchen.’
A minute later the fireman comes back and says: ‘we checked but there is no one.’ My instructor, surprised, gets in the house again. The blood is still there, parts of the face are still there, but the body isn’t.
He then hears creaking coming from upstairs. At this point, he has his hand on his weapon as he’s walking up the stairs. Upstairs he sees the man, no face, standing up, and making mechanical, baby steps towards the bedroom. Turns out he messed up when he checked for a pulse, he was still alive. The man died a couple of hours later. The doctor later explained that the man had been going up to his bedroom every day at the same time for the past 10 years to take his medicine. He couldn’t see anything but out of reflex, the man tried to get his medicine.
Now, I’ve personally seen some failed suicides where the person is still alive without a face, it usually comes from the person firing below the chin but not towards the brain or simply using too small a caliber, but I’ve definitely never seen one of those persons move and walk.
Following Him Into The Woods Was His First Mistake
“Several years ago, when I first started the job, I was sent to a house to assist an ambulance with an OPC (having someone committed to a mental health facility).
Upon arrival, ambulance drivers were still in their unit and were refusing to approach the residence because the patient was acting too aggressively. I approached the residence and a male subject (about 6’5 / 300 lbs) exited the residence in a hurry. Thinking this was the patient, I asked the man to come with me. To which he replied something like, ‘Thank god you’re here! You’ve got to get this crazy person outta my house!’
I asked the man what was going on and he says the man living with him is crazy and needs to be put in the hospital. He then states that earlier that morning he went to put his work boots on and that the man had put a copperhead snake (poisonous) in the boots and that he was almost bitten. I asked the man where the guy was and he stated that after he almost got bit, the guy started laughing at him and ran out into the woods behind his house and added that he was naked and possibly high on dope. So I ask the guy to show me where the guy went.
I follow the man approximately a half of a mile into the woods. After about an hour of searching the woods with the man, I start noticing that he’s sweating a lot and has his right hand under his shirt rubbing his chest the whole time. Eventually, the man screams out, ‘There he is! Grab him!’ I run over to the area where he was looking and see absolutely nothing. Then the man says something like, ‘You’re not going to arrest him!?! You must be on his side!’
I told him that I didn’t see anyone in the area and he says, ‘He’s standing right beside you, calling you names!’ It was at this point that I realized that this giant of a man I was in the middle of nowhere with, was the crazy guy I was after all along. I start trying to sweet talk him back to the residence by changing the subject from the invisible crazy man he was seeing. I ask him why he was sweating so much and rubbing his chest thinking maybe something was wrong with him and I could use it as a good excuse to get him in the ambulance. He starts telling me how the snake in his boot from earlier climbed inside his foot and up his leg and laid a bunch of eggs in his stomach and that he had been pooping out baby snakes all morning. Then he smiles and says, ‘But I got ’em though.’
He says that he used ‘Mama’s cure-all’ to kill the rest of the eggs. Of course, I had to ask what the cure-all was as we were making our way back to his house. He pulls up his shirt and is holding a rag rubbing it on his chest and stomach. Apparently ‘Mama’s cure-all’ was straight bleach and he had severely burned his chest and stomach by rubbing the bleach on himself all morning. My reactions to seeing his midsection burnt up was, ‘Oh my god, man what have you done?’
He didn’t like this response, thinking that I was calling his Mama’s remedies a bad thing. About this time, the guy tries to get physically combative with me. Luckily two other deputies showed up about the time we going to tie into it and we were able to get him in cuffs and eventually in the back of the ambulance. Over the past 15 years, I’ve had to deal with the guy on three other occasions. Every single time I’ve dealt with him, he acts up and gets combative with me because he thinks that I think his mother is a liar. Side note: he still has scars and no chest hair because of the chemical burns.”
Never Respond To This Haunting Number
“I’m a military police officer, so I worked both law enforcement and corrections for a bit. In corrections, the main office was also the police services desk. Often it would ring and no one would be at the other end. Anyways one time it rang and instead of a number, it had a descriptor that I don’t remember exactly. Something like ‘Emergency Phone 11.’ I was new and immediately called my superiors about it. They told me to drop it and never report anything like that again. Ominous right?
Sometime later, while on patrol, I got dispatched to essentially an abandoned side of the base to respond to an emergency phone call, no location at first because Radio didn’t know where ‘Emergency phone 11’ was and was new to the base so he didn’t get the same memo to not report those calls. Radio then went on to say that the caller had sounded frantic and thought they were being chased, meaning that someone had actually been on the other end. Radio eventually digs up some old maps that label an ‘Emergency Radio 11’ location and relays them to me and my partner so we drive there in a hurry.
There is no phone, just a broken pole where one had once been. That was a fun one to report.”
Sometimes You Really Should Listen To Your Gut
“I got a report of a missing husband. He told his wife and family of six children that he was going to get his tires changed, but never returned, and this was 12 hours ago. They had purchased another house in a neighboring community, and the relationship with the wife was under pressure, so the wife assumed he was staying at the other house, and claimed he would never kill himself.
The strange thing about this report though was that he emptied his personal bank account into his wife’s this morning as well. The wife explained this off saying that they recently had a fight about finances, and he agreed that he was bad at money and maybe they should just have a joint account that she controls.
On a hunch, I asked his 14-year-old boy if there were any areas in the mountains nearby that his father enjoyed going, and the son identified a road about 10 miles away. It was nearing midnight, but I decided to drive to the top of this old and abandoned forest service road. As I drove through the snow and started to climb the road, I felt a gut feeling that I would 100% find this guy up there either thinking about or already acted out a suicide. The snow-laid gravel road had some sign of travel, but no real indication of how fresh the vehicle tracks could be. As I reached the top of the road after an hour of travel I was honestly surprised that I did not find his black truck.
I spent the drive back down thinking about ‘gut-feelings’ and how they are unreliable, but that I somehow felt different about this one. As I traveled up the road, I did notice over a dozen smaller roads branching off, but they were not mapped, and I had already spent too much time on a single occurrence in a busy city with too few police officers. Nonetheless, I decided to check a single of these secondary roads, and about 3/4’s of the way down I picked a road at random to check, and sure enough my headlights lit up the back end of a black truck about 100 yards past the first corner. Even if I hadn’t memorized the license plate beforehand, I wouldn’t have had to run it – it was clearly his. I radioed that I had found the truck, parked my vehicle, and traveled the 20 feet to his truck with my heart beating like I was doing it at a sprint rather than a normal walk.
What I found inside was a caused by a self-inflicted shot wound under the chin. I’ll save you from the description.
There was just something about that gut-feeling while traveling this abandoned and quiet mountain road, followed by a sense of being tricked by the gut-feeling, then finding out it was true by discovering such a gruesome scene, having to wait 3 hours next to his truck waiting for body removal, and then to end it all by having to go to the family who was expecting good news to deliver to them the worst news possible, that makes me feel creeped out to this day.”
He Looked Everywhere For Him, But What Remained Absolutely Shook Him
“I went to a welfare check. A neighbor called in and says he hasn’t seen this guy for a few days and the lights have been on for a while. I go and look around and find no footprints or tire marks in the snow (recent storm). I check the garage and nothing. I check the house which was unlocked and found the guys cellphone, keys, wallet and cash with the TV on. That’s when I realized this was now a dead body search. I looked everywhere in and outside the house and around the garage. There were several old junk vehicles on the property but again, no tire marks or shoe prints or anything. I call all recent numbers on his phone and no one’s heard from him. Only so much I can do so I issue a BOL and we start getting NCIC paperwork ready.
Next day the day shift officer goes over to follow up. Turns out, the guy was plowing his driveway and either had a medical condition or something and either passed out or died on the spot and crashed the truck onto the other junk cars, which then caught on fire ( the investigation leads to the fact this happens a week before I got this call) leaving only a pile of bones in the front seat covered in snow. I felt like crap for not finding him that night but it was really creepy knowing his remains were inches away from where I was searching.”