911 Operators From Around The World Share Calls They Will Never Forget

911 Operators From Around The World Share Calls They Will Never Forget

People dial 911 in strange and extreme situations. This means that the operators who answer calls for emergency services hear some truly crazy things. Often the calls are frightening, but sometimes they're just plain weird or even hilarious. Every 911 operator in the world has at least one call that they will never forget, for one reason or another. Perhaps it was a call that brought tears to their eyes, laughter to their day, or terror into their heart. Here are some of the most memorable calls that these emergency services operators turned internet users want to share with the world.


48. This Isn't The Line You're Looking For

A woman pleasing herself while on the phone with us at the 911 dispatch.

The first time she called she sounded normal at first. I asked for an officer that never worked here. General conversation about this officer while she progressively got more... extreme with her moaning. I eventually (and gracefully) ended the conversation. It was a wild time. I still remember her name and voice.

The second and third times she called I asked if it was her and she hung up right away.

Why are you like this Ms. Roberts? What is your end game?

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47. The Good News: There Are No Spiders

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 genitalia”. 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.

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46. The Sound Of A Stroke

An 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.

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45. From The Mouths Of Babes

Answered to the sounds of a couple of women absolutely screaming and wailing (I'm sure anyone that has done the job long enough knows the type of scream I mean -- that blood-curdling scream of someone in genuine anguish). Knew something was up and got police and ambulance on the way. Trying to get them on the phone to get details and a boy of no more than five years old comes on the phone and says "my daddy is swinging from the roof and his eyes are open and staring".

He had done it to himself while his family was out doing their shopping.

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44. Baby Reaction

I answered the non-emergency line just after lunch, half expecting it to be a parking complaint or something. I was surprised to hear a sobbing woman on the other end sounding hysterical. Her young infant child was having some type of reaction, coughing, possibly swelling, and lips appearing to turn blue. When I got her location and basics for the call, I had two officers start that way, one to meet them, the other to standby for medics and traffic and let them know I'd be rolling medics.

I did my best to assure her help was on the way and that I needed to put her on hold (to call for medics) and get right back to her. She got even worse and panicked, so I made the decision to leave her on the line with me, roll my chair and pick up another handset and called medics. About a minute or so later, I hung up with the other agency and got back with her trying to calm her, as well as manage my units' traffic, going as far as telling the other units out there to standby.

She finally said officers were there and could hear the ambulance so I let her go. I'm sitting there wondering what the heck is happening with the child now because medics take over the scene and communicate to their agency. Eventually, I got another call from the mother's sister who thanked me and said the baby was now fine and for the fast response and attempts to calm them.


43. Dementia Sucks

I worked for a dispatch company very similar to life alert:

An older lady in her 90s thought someone was intruding on her property and called the cops. She had severe dementia though and forgot she had called the cops, so when they rang her door she thought THEY were the intruders. So she hit her wrist button to get in contact with us. Then she got out her gun.

I then called the police (while also talking to her) and literally on the recording you could hear her taking shots at the police officers on the scene, while they freaked out while I (and I got my supervisor ASAP) tried to talk her down. The police and I eventually got her to calm down and stop firing, but apparently she had missed a police officer by just 6 inches.

The family had to get involved and she ended up moving to a nursing home shortly after. Dementia sucks.

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42. How Can You Lie In This Situation?

I’m sure plenty of other people will have crazier ones. But the first time I took an OD call. It’s a crazy experience literally hearing someone dying on the other side of the phone. It was sort of a mix of gurgling, screaming and gasping for air. Fortunately, the friend of the person that was ODing was the one who called, so I could actually get some information to pass along to my officers/firefighters.

Unfortunately, the caller was also super out of it and losing his mind (understandably) and decided to lie about what exactly his friend was on, which slightly delayed Narcan being administered (not to the point that it mattered, but it did delay it). The person who OD’d lived.

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41. Made A Mistake

One of my first calls was a man screaming that he was being attacked by large men with bats. Lots of commotion finally determined his hotel room number and sent officers. While on the phone, he admitted to me that he had actually just taken a bunch of beverages and substances to attempt to take his own life, but didn't think anyone would get there soon enough, so he made up a story about guys beating him so we would come sooner. He told me he regretted his decision and realized we wanted to live to see his son. He didn't make it.


40. Here's A Happier One For You

Used to take ambulance calls and thought I’d add a happier call here to buck the trend.

I managed to deliver five babies while doing that job. The first one the dad was on and the first thing he screams is ‘the head’s coming out the head’s coming out!’

Another one they were on their way to the hospital when the baby just started arriving, so I delivered a baby over the phone on the side of a motorway. The sound of a baby crying during childbirth is the most stress relieving sound of all! One of the families wrote in to say thank you and I got to meet them and the baby.

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39. A Hole In One

My brother-in-law is a 911 operator in the UK, and they also take calls on the non-emergency number which is 101.

He tells me about the more light-hearted calls and one of them always makes me smile when I remember it.

A call comes through on 101 and all he can hear is some faint muttering and a TV in the background. He's a bit worried because it's potentially someone who has collapsed, managed to dial a number, but isn't able to talk.

He's trying to get a response when suddenly an old guy starts talking to him, obviously very confused as to why there's someone on the end of the phone.

Turns out the old guy had thought his phone was his TV remote and he was just trying to watch the golf on TV...which just so happens to be channel 101. He was very apologetic when my brother-in-law explained what he'd done.

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38. Saving A Kidnapping Victim

My mother has been a 911 operator for the past 15 years or so and I’m sure my siblings and I have heard about this one call on multiple occasions when we were younger.

A teenage girl/young women had been kidnapped. The good ole bait and switch of an older woman buying her drinks at a bar etc, the friendly older type who’d bend the rules. She ends up taking her and handing her off to this guy who takes her back to his basement and assaults her. So trapped in a basement with a guy with a knife. He had fallen asleep, and the girl manages to find/get a phone and call 911.

My mother answers and essentially walks this girl through getting help. From peaking out the basement windows and trying to find a street sign or whatever. It comes down to my mother and a few other dispatchers carting around police cars blaring their lights in a general area until the girl could see them and the officers could in her exact location.

Safe and sound. After that, my mother got recognized at work for the effort, and she got a piece of paper commemorating the excellent work, so the adult version of an honor roll.

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37. Compassion Can Really Make The Difference

I’ve left the job now for pastures new but... STORYTIME.

Woman of 90 years old calls up and says she’s having a spot of trouble. She’s struggling to work the phone and tells me she basically had a leg ulcer which has popped and that she’s on blood thinners so there’s a lot of blood coming out.

I get an ambulance out immediately to her, but midway through the call, it goes silent, and I hear a big ole thud on the floor.

After this, I try my best to basically shout down the phone after her to get her attention. All I can hear is very heavy breathing but no reply.

This continues for a couple of minutes before I hear banging on the other end of the line and a voice faintly shouting the lady’s name.

I keep trying to rouse her myself but I am unsuccessful.

I hear the window break and a couple of voices approaching. They reach her and thankfully I hear her very faint voice respond.

Normally we don’t find out what happens but in this case, I actually received a letter and chocolates from the lady who sent it in and said that she could hear me the whole time and felt reassured that help was coming but she didn’t have the strength to reply.

For what was a really really crappy job at the time, getting that made the next few months really easy.

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36. Do Not Lift!

A Harley motorcycle tipped over and the clutch lever went into a four-year-old's eye. The parent was on the line asking what to do. Suddenly, she said, "They're going to lift the motorcycle." I emphatically told her to tell them to stop and wait for rescue and EMS. The rescuers ended up cutting off the clutch lever and transporting the kid to the hospital. She underwent surgery. That was 1982. Just last year, I met the lead rescue officer and the girl herself, now fully grown. They wanted to meet the 911 operator that saved her vision.


35. The Pizza Call

I had a call that started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious:

"911, where is your emergency?"

"123 Main St."

"Ok, what's going on there?"

"I'd like to order a pizza for delivery." (Oh great, another prank call.)

"Ma'am, you've reached 911"

"Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom, and peppers?"

"Um... I'm sorry, you know you've called 911 right?"

"Yeah, do you know how long it will be?"

"Ok, ma'am, is everything ok over there? Do you have an emergency?"

"Yes, I do."

"And you can't talk about it because there's someone in the room with you?" (Moment of realization.)

"Yes, that's correct. Do you know how long it will be?"

"I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?"


"Can you stay on the phone with me?"

"Nope. See you soon, thanks."

As we dispatch the call, I check the history at the address and see there are multiple previous violence calls. The officer arrives and finds a couple, female was kind of banged up, and the boyfriend was inebriated. Officer arrests him after she explains that the boyfriend had been abusing her for a while. I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick. Definitely one of the most memorable calls.


34. Opening With The Last Breath

The one that has stuck with me the most is the one I initially heard the least on—airbag signal, connected to a vehicle. I heard a sigh and then silence outside. Nothing but the sounds of passing traffic. A coworker then completes the dispatch (standard procedure) and I attempt to make contact a few times with no luck. It's simply a matter of remaining on the line to listen to make sure the ambulance gets there.

Then, a car stops and I hear talking in the background. Soon after someone else stops. Finally, someone starts a last rites-type of prayer after asking someone to join hands. I realize then that what I heard at the very beginning of the call was their last breath. The only time that this person's entire existence crossed mine was at the last possible moment. And they don't even know it.

Life is fickle. Be good to everyone.


33. Poor Little Ma'am

I was a 911 dispatcher for several years and one of my most memorable calls was a hysterical woman at about midnight one stormy night. She was absolutely incomprehensible. I kept saying, "Ma'am. Ma'am, you have to calm down. I can't understand you. Ma'am." This went on for what felt like forever. I couldn't get anything useful out of her. My officers were en route to this obviously horrifying situation.

Finally, she said something about being with her sister. "How old is your sister?" One. Instantly suspicious, I asked, "How old are you?" Five.

A five-year-old boy. So that's how I inadvertently called a little boy ma'am many, many times. Oops.

The storm had woken him up and his parents were gone. (They went out to move their cars to shelter in case of hail.) He was just very scared. My officers still responded and talked to the parents about not leaving sleeping children alone, but everybody was unscathed.

It wasn't my most tragic call, but it is one I've never forgotten. Poor little ma'am.



32. Malfunction Saves Life

I had just turned 18 and was fresh out of training. It was maybe my eighth or ninth shift at the center.

It wasn't my first call with a troubled person, however, it was the worst and scariest for me. This man had locked himself up in his home, with a weapon and was going to harm himself. He wasn't calling to have someone talk him down, he told me that he wanted someone to hear him do it. Of course, at this point, I'm trying to find out where he's at, I'm tracing his call and talking to emergency services on my other phone.

He says in a calm and serious voice, "You're not going to have time for that. Just listen, and it will be over soon." I finally get a trace on the call, and I'm reporting it. Then it begins. I can hear him fumbling around with the weapon and the clicking of the trigger. He's getting frustrated because the weapon is jammed. With each click and rattle, I'm expecting to hear the weapon go off. I'm literally dripping with sweat.

This goes on for some time, and I'm trying to keep him on the line and to focus on the conversation as he's trying to fix his weapon. It seemed like an eternity, but I finally heard the police at the door. They had to kick it down since the man refused to open it. They got the weapon from him and the call ended.

The cops later told us they couldn't figure out why the weapon had malfunctioned. That really, he should have been finished. So he was either really lucky or not depending on your thoughts on the situation. Regardless, I didn't last much longer as a volunteer. I started having extreme anxiety every time I picked up the phone, imagining that I was hearing the clicking of the weapon.


31. Never Go There

I used to work as a relay operator (711) and often got misdialed 911 calls. We would connect them to 911 but since they connected through us, we had to stay on the line.

One time I got an old woman who fell out of bed and couldn't get up. I connected her to 911 and from there they tracked her location. The 911 operator said, "Ma'am, are you in such and such hospital, are you calling from the hospital?" "Yes, I fell and no one will help me." Not sure what the 911 operator did, but about 10 minutes later, you hear someone come into her room to help her up. Apparently, this woman fell out of her hospital bed and no one noticed for over an hour until she dragged herself to the phone and called 911. I was like, note to self: never go to this hospital.


30. Poor Mother

My mom was a 911 dispatcher for over thirty years. She had many crazy calls but one story she told me always stuck out from the rest.

One day a man called in. With a calm voice, he told my mom he was in the local hotel and that he had doused himself with gasoline and was going to end his life. He called in so they could evacuate the hotel because "I don't want to hurt anyone else."

While my mom is trying to talk him out of it, she is on another line to the hotel letting them know what's going on and to get everyone out.

While emergency services are en route she has to stay on the line whenever possible to keep people calm, reassure them help is on the way and to try her best to keep track of what's up on the other end.

As soon as the guy heard the sirens coming in the distance he asked her if everyone had been evacuated yet. She tried to stall her answer thinking he'd light himself up as soon as she said yes. It didn't work.

Seconds later, she started hearing the worst screams she's ever heard (and she's heard many during that job over the years) and then the phone went static. And then silence.

He passed away in that hotel and my mom had to listen.


29. The Miracle Of Birth

The one that stayed with me:

I gave childbirth instructions to a father via relay for his deaf wife. They were the victims of a home invasion and were tied to chairs. Burglars saw her in labor, panicked, then left. It took the dad hours to free himself and call.

While giving the instructions I obtained a suspect description to put out to surrounding agencies. They were caught in the city to our north during the call.

The baby boy was born perfectly healthy.


28. The Back Door

Former sheriff's department dispatcher in charge of non-emergency and 911 calls for a rural, southern county. I picked up the job part-time and was in the process of training. My supervisor was sitting next to me listening to my end of the call, but she was not hooked into the line to hear the whole call.

Line rings, I answer, it's 911. A young girl, less than 10 years old, is telling me that she, her mother, and her baby sibling are locked in a bedroom. Her uncle is pacing around outside the door holding a weapon and threatening to harm them all. She does not know the house number/fire number where they are and mom has basically checked out of the conversation out of fear.

I have a vague idea of where she is so I send deputies in her direction with the promise that I will get better directions. As is typical in rural areas, everybody owned a scanner and listened like it was their job. My phone starts ringing off the hook. So I am reassuring this little girl on one handset, and holding a second handset up to my other ear taking directions from concerned members of the public. Directions like, "Go until you see a broken down truck. Keep going. When you get to the second broke down truck, turn right and continue until you see a large rock." It was also late enough in the evening that everything was dark out.

The little girl tells me there might be a backdoor that is unlocked. Members of the public who know the house just from the general location and number/gender of occupants are calling in confirming that there is a backdoor that my deputies should enter through and that they will not be seen by the perpetrator if he has retreated to the living room. My guys arrive, sneak in the back, walk right up to the guy sitting in a recliner, disarm him, and arrest him. The family gets emergency protective orders so he (ideally) cannot be a threat to them again.

I almost quit after that call because my adrenaline was running, I was shaking, and I'd had to handle it mostly myself because my supervisor couldn't hear what was going on. I stayed with it and it was one of the best jobs I had. I quit when I moved to another state, but it was a sad decision to make.


27. McFlare

I am a 911 operator. My "favorite" call I have personally taken that I won't forget is about a couple at McDonald's.

They had just purchased a new vehicle and went out to celebrate the purchase at a local McDonald's. The wife, for some reason, decided she had better check the spare tire and make sure they had one before they left town and found a weapon instead. I received a call from the wife stating she just accidentally hurt her husband. When I was asking about exit wounds she said it did not penetrate but burned him really badly. Turns out wife hurt the husband with a flare gun when she went to show it to him. They did not finish their big macs and I'm not sure how that marriage ended up. He wasn't a happy man on the way to the emergency room to get burn treatment!



26. That Terrible Creaking, Swinging Sound

Actual 911 operator here for a major North American city. There was a male who took his life while talking to me. He said he didn't want to be by himself when he did it so he called 911. He apologized for what he was about to do, but he wouldn't tell me where he was. We never got to him on time. I had to sit there with an open line and him "not there" until the police finally located where he was.

You know that sound in the movies you hear when someone has used a rope on themselves? You know, the sound of the hanging rope and somewhat swinging back and forth? That creaking sound the rope makes from rubbing against whatever it's tied to? Ya, I had to listen to that sound for quite sometime before it stopped swinging.

To this day I can't watch a scene in a movie where someone has used a rope on themselves without having a mini anxiety attack and almost throwing up.


25. Oh, The Assault?

One of my first calls after I finished training: A young girl calls and says, "I caught my 15-year-old brother with another guy again," but wouldn't give me a whole lot more. I kept asking her and, finally, she says, "Well, I panicked and called my dad and when my brother heard he drank some Drano, and now he's starting to pass out." So, of course, the entire cavalry is on their way to her, but I keep her on the line until they arrive. She says that her dad told her to call the police and us and that he was on his way home too. I was confused as to why she'd have to call the police as being with another guy isn't something the police care about.

Anyway, he's transported to the hospital, and the police call back to ask where we transported to, and I asked them about the call. They say, "Oh, for the assault?" I was super confused, and they go, "Oh yeah, the guy your kid was caught with was 38." Oh. That's why the police we called.


24. The Utter Nonchalance

I used to be a police dispatcher.

An older man called the non-emergency number and very calmly, nonchalantly said, "I just harmed my neighbor. I attacked her. You might want to come to pick her up."


23. A 911 Appointment

My partner answers. She says she wants to make an appointment to see Dr so-and-so. He informs her that this is 911, and while we can send her an ambulance, we cannot make doctors appointments. She says she understands. He asks if she would like an ambulance. She says no. She then says that she just wants to make an appointment, and that next Thursday worked fine for her.

My partner again informs her that 911 is for emergencies only. He again offers an ambulance. She again refuses. They go in circles for a while. And here's where it gets interesting... Anyone else would have ended the call, but my partner this evening was one of the smartest dudes I've ever met. He's pretty good at putting little pieces together. So instead of ending the call, he asked one last question.

"Ma'am, 911 is for emergencies only. Do you understand that?" She said that she did. He had a sudden thought and asked her if she was having an emergency. She said yes, with an oddly desperate tone to her voice. He then asked her, "Is there someone standing next to you who is threatening you?" She simply said yes, but you could feel a sort of "Thank God someone figured it out" tone to her voice.

We called the sheriff department back and let them know. Apparently, the estranged husband had returned to the house and was threatening her. She was too scared to call and ask for the cops, so she was pretending to call the doctor's office. She's lucky my buddy happened to answer.


22. But I Love You

I worked in a very busy city so crimes were not a novelty but a norm, unfortunately. We were used to it and I have heard several people pass away with me on the phone. This one lady, though, calls and says, "My husband has a weapon to my head and won't leave me alone. You gotta come quickly..." she's screaming into the phone then she puts it down. All I can hear at this point is her yelling at her husband, "But I LOVE YOU, BABY!" Then BOOM! "BUT I LOVE YOU!" BOOM! Gunshot. Something garbled... "BUT I LOVE YOU!" BOOM! So at this point, I'm standing up yelling into my little microphone "Stop saying I love you!" And everyone in the room with me now turns and looks at me like I have five heads. But I was caught up in the call. Turns out the man walked in on the woman and found another guy in the closet. The said guy ran outta the house but the woman didn't make it out.


21. I'm Tired

One of my first calls, a guy kept saying that he was tired and that he needed help. Every time I would ask what was wrong, he would just dryly reply with, "I'm tired, and I need help." I could barely hear him over this loud whirring sound over the phone like he was holding a blender up to it or something.

An officer was sent out to take the call, and almost immediately, we get a call from the dispatched officer saying that the man has a chainsaw and had hurt himself. I just assumed that he had an accident and needed an ambulance, but what really stuck with me was that he waited for the police to show up to his house before he hurt himself.


20. Just Laid Down

I worked briefly as a 911 operator, we dealt with a lot of North America.

A lot of the calls were break-ins, but the one I will always remember was a call from a man in North Carolina. He was harvesting his crops and some guy walked into his farm and laid down in front of his tractor.

You could hear the guys wife in the background going hysterical.

The guy was done.


19. Knew He Was Gone

I have a few, but the one that I will never be able to forget was the one where a woman in her 80s called because her son (late 40s) hurt himself in the stomach with a weapon. Poor thing, I started to give her the medical instructions. Get a clean cloth, apply pressure to the wound. She stopped me at "apply pressure to the wound" by saying, "I can't apply pressure, honey, he is everywhere." My heart instantly sank. I knew he was a goner even before she said that but still, just her saying it, you could feel her hopelessness. So I told her to hold his hand and stay with him until the ambulance arrived or until he passed. She went on to tell me how depressed he was. His wife kicked him out, took the kids, major divorce and custody battle, lost his job, the whole nine. Then her voice hitched and she said, "I never realized that I would have to bury my son." Shortly after the police and the ambulance arrived, and she hung up. I had to go for a long walk by myself after that call, especially since my son had turned two just days beforehand. Just the thought of having to do that to my boy still makes me cry instantly.


18. Long Live Canada!

Got a call just yesterday on the non-emerg line from a very old, very proud German Canadian man who just babbled on for five minutes straight about having come to Canada before WWII in a boat with windows and helped build Canada and loved the prime minister and he built skyscrapers and was a plumber and BLAH BLAH BLAH and would NOT be interrupted. I just sat back on mute and laughed my butt off. When I finally went to kick him off the line, he finished with, "LONG LIVE (our mayor)! LONG LIVE CANADA! I LOVE EVERYBODY! I LOVE THIS PLACE!"


17. Drop The Ax!

While listening in on a call next to my co-worker and trying to convey what is going on to the LEO on the other line, we hear the woman who initially called in say:

Her: "He went to get an ax!"

Us: "Ma'am, where are you now?"

Her: "I'm locked in the bathroom, please hurry!"

Us: "The sheriff's office is on their way; they say they are five minutes out."

Then we hear loud banging on the door. Her husband was trying to chop his way through the door with the ax. My co-worker lost it when she heard the woman start screaming knowing her husband was coming after her with an ax. She threw her headset off and walked away, saying something like "I can't do it, LuckyInk! I can't!" She headed off to the ladies room to collect herself.

So I picked up the headset to reassure the lady on the phone.

Me: "Ma'am, the sheriff is at your house now. Where is your husband?"

Her: "Back bathroom, he is at the door!"

More loud banging from the axe. By this time the woman was overly hysterical and crying madly.


"Sheriff's department, drop the axe!"


Pop pop, pop pop

The local LEO dispatch directed me to ask the lady to open the bathroom door and she does. The next voice I heard on her phone was a Sheriff Deputy. All he said was this:

"The situation is under control, operator. Disengage the call."

I still get chills and all teary thinking about it.


16. A Sad Coincidence

One unusually quiet night, I had a call at about three a.m. A nice old lady was asking for just somebody to talk to because she had insomnia and just woke up from a terrible nightmare.

Now, usually, I was annoyed when something like this happened—people calling in the middle of the night for something that clearly isn't a medical emergency—but this old woman was so sweet and polite that I decided to just have a nice talk with her. Also, all the other lines were quiet at that time.

She told me her name, and that ever since her husband was sent to a nursing home several weeks ago, she was afraid that something terrible might happen to him. About one hour before, she awoke and just felt that something bad had happened, and now she felt so anxious and alone at home, just wanted to hear a human voice, someone to talk to. She kept excusing herself for calling in the middle of the night and wasting my time.

Then I got a call on the second line. It was the nursing home where her husband was sent: "Yo, we got a one here, passed away one hour ago. Send over the doctor for a death certificate."

Needless to say, the man who just died had the same last name as the nice lady I had been talking to...


15. Kept Cool As Long As Possible

I had just begun training as a law enforcement radio operator. My friend answered a 911 call about a physical altercation between a husband and wife. I dispatched two deputies out to the call. Nothing too out of the ordinary, except I could hear the screaming over the phone from the other side of the room. We upped it to an emergency response, and the Corporal at the time headed over as well. He was first on scene and immediately goes to the door without backup. Right as he gained entry, he screamed over the radio, "Weapon fired!" At this time, the entire district was now heading over 10-18. I asked for a status update. Nothing. I asked again. Still nothing. Units got on the scene and told me we had an officer down. I kept my cool, had EMS respond. I kept my cool when they canceled the chopper for trauma code ground transport. I kept my cool when we were debriefed. I kept my cool when my co-workers were all in tears for a few days. But every day on my way to work for a few months, having to read all the signs on the business saying "RIP Sgt...."...I finally broke down and cried.


14. What's Wrong With Mommy?

A 36-year-old mother of two stopped breathing in her sleep. Her husband tried to resuscitate. You could hear his true desperation as he pleaded with her to just breathe. The children woke up in the middle of it all and started bawling/screaming in the background, "What's wrong with mommy?!" She passed away.


13. Inhaled Embers

I'm a cop now but I was a dispatcher for a few years. The worst by far was a mom who called because they had a bonfire and her two-year-old daughter fell in the embers. You could hear the little girl screaming in the background. She had breathed in a bunch of the embers and it burned her lungs. I found out later she lost some fingers and part of a lung from the incident. I can still hear those screams and how desperate the mom sounded on the phone.


12. In Pursuit Of Sword Guy

Former 911 operator here: You always tend to remember your big calls from training, and then after you're on the job for a while, only the really strange or horrific calls stand out.

That said, one of the first calls I took when I was finally released on phones (still hadn't made it to radio) was of a guy in a Sears outlet store brandishing two bladed weapons, waving them about and yelling at everyone in the store. Got the call from the manager, who was hiding in a closet in the back of the store. He had left his employees and customers to fend for themselves with the guy.

Ultimately, the police department ended up in hot pursuit—he was driving in some old car like a Datsun or something equally small at about 25 miles per hour, right past the police department (the store was only a few blocks down the road). Finally, the Chief showed up after the police had boxed weapon guy in and started banging in his car window (the guy had it cracked for some reason), demanding that he get out (no, that didn't make anything better tactically). Weapon guy yelled, "NO!" He rolled up the window and sat there.

He was finally escorted out of his vehicle and nobody was injured, except for the car windows.


11. The Worst Father

My sister is a 911 Operator in Southern California and told me this pretty horrifying story:

A call came in from a teenage boy probably 14-15 and said that his father was trying to hurt his mother. His father cornered his mother in their bedroom and nailed the door shut from the inside. The boy was frantically trying to break the door down and you could hear him banging/breaking down on the door and his mother screaming.

My sister says that they live in a really awkward place that might actually take a little time to get to so in the meanwhile this kid finally manages to break down the door and confronts his father. His father turns on him and starts hurting him instead of his mother now. After this goes on for about five minutes, she doesn't hear the boy anymore but hears the mother crying and the father screaming at her. The police finally arrive and arrest the man.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. The kid passed away. His father brutally beat him.


10. Sadly Slow Response

The call that sticks with me the most is kind of tragic.

I live/dispatch in the rural south and have been doing so for over seven years now. I have handled various types of emergency situations. The downfall of dispatching in the rural south is that most of our first responders are volunteers, which pretty much means response time will be delayed, especially late at night. Which brings me to my story.

It's about two a.m. and I answer the phone to a man in his early twenties and he is absolutely freaking out. I try for several minutes to calm him enough to find out what's going on. Finally, I do, and as it turns out his wife is pregnant with twins and she is giving birth on the living room floor. OKAY! So let's get this thing rolling! I dispatch responders and start giving pre arrival instruction, which in this case is, "TELL HER TO WAIT! Don't push, don't move, don't do anything!" Unfortunately, we have already lost several precious minutes trying to calm him enough to get his address. To top it off, he lives out in a more rural area of this particular county.

He tells me one of his twins was already born. Okay, sir, lets go through our scripted emergency birthing instructions. But first, lets just get an ETA (estimated time of arrival) of the nearest responder... "Copy that, 16-minute ETA". Sixteen minutes... not that long right? Wrong! Sixteen minutes is an eternity in this type of situation, for everyone involved: Me, the caller, the wife, everyone! So back to my guy, he's flipping out but he's taking control as best as a guy can at around 20 years old watching his wife in pain and giving birth in their living room almost three months early. So here comes the second twin. I'm making sure the dad is keeping himself together and following my instruction, and for the most part, he is. He's doing an awesome job and I'm proud of this kid by now.

This is about the 10 minute mark... the second baby is born... he tells me the second baby is blue and doesn't appear to be breathing like the other. So now on the inside, I'm freaking out with this poor guy, you can hear the sound of defeat in his voice. I tell him, "This is what has to happen and it has to happen now!" I go into the more scripted procedure for different techniques and infantile CPR. None of it works. He gets quiet as he keeps trying to save his new babies life... now that he's quiet, I hear something in the background. Something I heard through the entire call, but it didn't register, thought maybe it was the TV in the background. Turns out through the entire call, on top of all of this, he is trying to deal with, his mother-in-law has been yelling at and insulting him the entire time. Last thing I heard her say was, "You couldn't even keep your own baby breathing!" And then I hear a knock on the door. It's a volunteer first responder.

I tell my caller to let the man help him, he is trained and capable and that everything is going to be okay. And that's my queue to hang up. I get up and walk outside. Thinking of this man and the terrible night he is having. Certainly the worst night of his life. I have a cigarette and shed some tears for him and go back to answering calls for another four hours.


9. But It's Christmas

One Christmas Eve, I got a call from a woman sobbing that her mother wasn't breathing, that she had aspirated in her sleep sometime in the night and the caller's father was attempting to do CPR. These people lived WAY out on the edge of our jurisdiction, at least 20 miles from a hospital. Luckily, there were two of us working, so my coworker dispatched first responders, an ambulance from each of the closest hospitals, and our deputy on duty. It was a normal medical-patient-not-responding until I heard the caller talking to her kids, telling them that their grandmother had passed away. A little girl said, "But Momma, it's Christmas!" I kind of lost it and had a hard time keeping it together after hearing that.


8. Life Is Stranger Than Fiction

911 operator here... I've learned on the job you can count on two things: Real life is always stranger than fiction and you can't make this up.

My most memorable is not one call, but the combination of three calls.

We often get calls for erratic operators, people driving too fast etc... so this first call was pretty routine.

CALL1: A mother called 911 to report a motorcycle on an interstate highway performing wheelies and driving dangerously. She said she had her twin girls in the car and she didn't want them to see this rider hurt himself. While getting more info from the caller she suddenly gasped, let out a scream, and then was quiet... Next, she says, "Girls, did you SEE THAT?!" (I'm thinking the worst... motorcycle down.. but why is this mother pointing it out to her kids?)

CALL 2: 911 What is the address of your emergency? Caller: Screams... Help, someone is carjacking me, help! 911: Where are you, Ma'am? Caller: On the highway driving! Someone jumped into my car and is trying to carjack me while I'm driving! What do I do?!?! 911: Can you slow down and pull over ma'am? Caller, a little calmer: Yes, I can, oh my god, help me please... line goes dead. 911: ...Shoot. (There is nothing worse than losing the caller mid-emergency)

CALL3: 911 What is the address of your emergency? Caller: Yeah, I'm on the interstate and I just dumped my bike, I need some help here. 911: Are you injured, sir? Caller: No, I'm fine but I think the lady in this car here may be experiencing shock, I'm alright though. Maybe you can send an ambulance?

CALL 1 Cont'd: GIRLS! Did you see that?! The mom then redirects her conversation to the phone. I'm sorry sir that was amazing... 911: What happened ma'am? Well, the motorcycle rear-ended the convertible and the guy just flipped out over tea kettle, over his handlebars, and landed sitting safely in her back seat! His motorcycle slammed into the shoulder and flipped a few times... the old lady driving the car seems really upset. But they pulled over. 911: Wow, ok, we actually have the motorcyclist on the other line, thank you for your help. Are you ok? Caller: Yes sir, thank you bye.


7. Relaying Choking Instructions

911 dispatcher in western PA, about to hit my sixth year. The one that sticks with me happened in my second year. A little girl on the line (found out later she was six or seven years old). She gives me the address, then says her mom's choking on something. They're the only ones home, no close neighbors, and it's gonna take fire and EMS at least five minutes to get there. Mom was still awake for the moment, but the daughter was too little to do any effective interventions, so I'm trying to relay first-person choking instructions to the mom through her (lean over a chair or table, etc.) Long story short, mom got her own airway cleared, everyone was fine, but there were a solid 30 seconds where I thought I was going to have to listen to this little girl watch her mom choke out. I've never forgotten how helpless that made me feel.


6. Bear On A Bike

The call started with a man calmly stating to police he that he was the passenger in a truck that hit an animal in the road. The driver was outside of the truck approaching what they had hit. You could hear the caller yelling, "What is it?" to the driver who then frantically began yelling, "It's Bear! It's Bear!"

Caller: "We hit a bear."

Driver: "No it's BEAR! Holy guacamole! We hit Bear! He's gone, he's gone!"

Dispatcher: "You hit a bear?"

Caller now frantic: "No, we hit BEAR, he's dead"

Dispatcher: "Who's Bear? Can you check if he's still alive?"

Caller (now standing over Bear, I assume): "No he's done, really, really gone."

Suddenly a large bang is heard on the phone

Caller: "He just hurt himself."

Dispatcher: "Bear hurt himself?"

Caller: "No [the driver] just harmed himself!"

Dispatcher: "Can you check to see if he is alive?"

Caller: "He's gone! He shot himself with a weapon! Just like my cousin."

Dispatcher: "Two people hurt themselves? How many bodies are there?!"

Caller: "No, my cousin took his own life last week, the same way!"

Dispatcher: "So there are only two bodies?"

Caller "Yes! Where are the cops?!"

I think you can piece it together from there. I also viewed the photos of the "scene". It was not pretty. Bear was riding his bike in the road back from a party when the driver went to speed around a car on a one-lane country road and ended up hitting bear going about 60mph. There was not much left of Bear but a streak about 60-80 feet long on the road. The driver had a weapon in the back seat of the car, which he used to end his life in front of a female passenger who was waiting in the car.


5. The Bad Guy Is Still In The Room

I’ve been a 911 dispatcher for 11 years in a medium-size center (population ~180,000). We have more than our share of crazy calls but there are only a few calls that have stuck with me. For me, the ones that I can’t get rid of aren’t even close to being the craziest or most brutal.

7-8 years ago I took a 911 call from a man who came home to find his adult sister had been attacked. The suspect had wrapped a telephone cord around her neck, then tried to push her through the window of the apartment. He was understandably very distraught. She was still alive and was able to talk to me. She had not been blindfolded and I was certain I could get a description of the person who had done this to her.

She answered all of my other questions but absolutely refused to give me any info on the suspect. I later found out that the reason was self-preservation: the person who did it was the brother who called 911 for help.

He was so believable it really messed with my head. I also felt horrible that I had continued pressing her for info with the person who hurt her was right there and that I could have potentially put her in more danger without realizing.

woman-standing-beside-window-curtain-1541212-300x200.jpgPhoto by Tess Emily Seymour from Pexels

4. "She Could Have Been Calling The Bank For Their Hours"

I have been doing this for more than a decade and have taken some absolutely nutty calls. The one that stands out is not, but it stays with me.

I took a 911 from a woman who asked me for an ambulance. Dead voice, no emotion. She could have been calling the bank for their hours.

I got and confirmed her address, again, very calm. Then I asked her what was going on. In that same lifeless voice, she said: "My son is dead." There was no change in her tone whatsoever.

I asked her if she was sure, asked her to start CPR which she flatly refused. I asked her please, let's at least try CPR and she said "He is cold and dead and it's my fault. My fault. My fault." Her tone never changed.

Turns out she had caught her 15-year-old son doing pills. He puked at some point. She was totally clueless and just sent him to bed. Sometime during the night, he either took more or what he had taken caused him to vomit again and he choked to death.

I will never forget that dead tone she had because in a way she was right; her ignorance did contribute to his death but she is not even partially to blame. Try telling her that though. That woman will never stop hating herself. I feel for her to this day and that was 2009ish.

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3. So Close, Too Late

My mother works for the 911 dispatchers office at the local sheriff's department. She received a call from a 12-year-old girl who was slowly bleeding out on the phone. Her father was mentally unstable and pulled his weapon on his wife and 11-year-old son before attacking the daughter twice. After he thought he ended them all, he took his own life. Well, the daughter was still alive and had enough life left in her to call 911. Police were dispatched along with an ambulance immediately in hopes that she wasn't the only survivor. Well, mom, being the dispatcher, had to keep the girl on the phone and try to keep her from going into shock. After a few minutes, all the girl kept saying was "I've been hurt, and I'm not going to make it." The girl took her final breath moments before the police busted through the door to find her lying up against the wall with the phone still in her hand and my mom on the other end trying to get a response out of her.


2. Bungled Up A Burglary

“One night I got a call from a teenage girl who was so scared she could barely talk. She was home alone and told me that someone was trying to break into her house. I tried my best to calm her down and told her to stay on the line, hide under her bed, and wait for the police to arrive. A few minutes later she said: "I think he's inside" and then suddenly the call got disconnected. In a moment of panic, I redialed her and realized I just made a huge mistake. The burglar heard the ring and found her. She was kidnapped and the police couldn't find her for days. Finally, after a while, they were able to locate him and saved the girl. I still can't forgive myself for the mistake I made but luckily, she was okay in the end.”



1. But Sometimes People Have To Have Fun

I was an intern at a local police department and I was working with dispatch for the day. We received a call from a concerned citizen complaint.

Operator: "911, what is your emergency?"

Citizen: mumble mumble mumble

Operator: "I'm sorry ma'am, could you please speak up?"

Citizen: "I said there're two guys getting it on in a parked truck!"

Operator: "Yes ma'am, we'll get someone out there immediately."

The operator hung up and we both immediately started laughing (he had the caller on speaker so I could listen). I asked him if he was going to send someone out there and he just shrugged and told me sometimes people need some fun.