Being an emergency operator is a tough and highly stressful job. No matter how much training these professionals go through, sometimes there is nothing that can prepare them for what they will hear when they pick up the line. For better or for worse, there are some calls that are simply unforgettable and will stay with them forever. These are some of those calls.
1. The Unexpected Chase
I had a call come in from a guy who was on a worksite building a house. There was someone harassing his workers, parked out in the front of the site, and rambling on about the end of the world and the apocalypse, etc. This kind of call is fairly standard stuff. It’s usually someone off their meds or on drugs, so no big deal.
I threw all the details, descriptions, plate numbers in the job and sent it to dispatch. I like to keep an eye on the notations that get entered to see what happens. As soon as it was sent through I noticed that the air wing unit, the CIRT team (sorta like SWAT), and about 10 other squad car response units were all assigned the job and en route with lights and sirens.
As it turned out, the guy harassing the workers was wanted for a stabbing the night before and a bunch of other violent offenses. He suffered from psychotic episodes from all his drug use. When officers arrived, he took off in his car and basically rammed his way through and a pursuit ensued. It’s the middle of the afternoon so public safety was a top priority.
None of the units tried anything too dangerous and they just followed with the airwing giving updates. He drove from a northern suburb over a giant bridge into the center of the city and then proceeded to mow down anyone on the footpaths in his car to get away from officers. He ended up claiming the lives of six people, including children, but was eventually captured and sentenced for every single life he took.
2. Please Don’t Fill ‘Er Up
I had a lady call who was sobbing so hard I could barely understand her. I determined it wasn't a medical issue, but she wasn't making much sense through the sobbing. I finally got her to calm down a little so that she could relay what the issue was. She said that she was at a full-serve gas station (I didn't even know those existed anymore).
She told me that the attendant had pumped too much gas into her car, but she had only asked for $20 and they had filled her tank. Then she broke down sobbing again. I asked her if the attendant was being rude or if they were threatening her (because I still couldn't figure out what the crying was all about). She said, "No, the attendant apologized and they gave me a receipt for the gas."
“OK,” I said, “Then what is the issue?” She burst into tears again and said that she was afraid they would chase her down if she tried to leave and say that she had stolen the gas. I went over what the attendant said to her again, and that clearly the attendant acknowledged that it was a mistake, so she was free to leave.
She was still sobbing when I said I had to let her go because this was not a matter for us. The very next call I got came in on the non-emergency line and it's the attendant from the gas station. She's super worried about the lady having the meltdown over getting at least $20 in free gas. The attendant was pretty sure that the lady wasn’t fit to drive due to all of the tears.
The attendant was just as baffled as I was over the lady's reaction to free gas.
3. This Call Made My Head Spin
At about 7 a.m. a younger sounding female calls in. She is house sitting and can hear someone trying to break in through the garage. Our city runs long north to south and the law enforcement department is towards the south side of town. She was at the very north end of the city in a nice neighborhood where nothing ever happens.
Being early morning with nothing going on, most officers are at the station having just come on duty. Everyone starts towards the address, but it’s going to be about 10 minutes. The caller is hiding in a closet and is petrified. I had asked all the questions I could think of at this point and just kept telling her to let me know if she hears anything different.
She can still just hear banging on the door to the garage. Suddenly, during a quiet moment, she yells out, “Oh my God!” After I picked up my heart from the floor I said, “What happened? Tell me.” She said...“I think it’s just the washing machine.” Yeah, it was the spin cycle banging up against the wall.
4. Not Another Child Bride
It was one of my first calls. I had a young girl call to say that she was about to run away because she was being encouraged into an arranged marriage and she felt she couldn't say no to her family. She asked that when she runs away we don't look for her, no matter who calls up to say that she's missing. It stumped me.
No matter how much training you go through or role-plays you enact, you can never be fully prepared for what may come in and this was a scenario I hadn't even thought about before. I managed to calm the girl down and go over the differences between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage. I explained to her that forced marriage was not allowed and had protections available.
Not to mention, everyone should have the right to choose who to marry, and when or if they want to marry. I had to explain that we couldn’t ignore a report of a missing person if it came in, and then made her aware of the various supports available to her, and the charities that specialize in these circumstances so that she didn't feel she had to go through this alone. I haven't been able to shake that feeling since.
5. Broken WINDow
I was a dispatcher for a residential alarm company similar to ADT. I would call people when their alarm was tripped and ask them if they were okay. One day I received a signal from a residence’s bathroom window glass break sensor. When I called the lady was laughing so hard she could barely give me her safety password. As it turned out she was cleaning her bathroom and when she bent over she broke wind so hard and loud that it set off the sensor on the bathroom window.
6. A Grandmother’s Devotion
An older lady, I want to say maybe in her early 70s, calls in with a sort of polite urgency in her voice, and tells me she thinks she’s having a stroke. She tells me she has her grandchild at the house with her and asks me to call her daughter to come to 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. It was disturbing and profoundly sad hearing someone having a stroke on the phone as they’re talking to you.
7. 9-1-1 Is Not A J-O-K-E
I took a call from a kid who was about 10 years old who thought it would be funny to prank call emergency services. He started off by saying there was a fire. I could hear him giggling in the background. He followed that up by meowing at me over the phone. I managed to get a good location off the call and got his address. I read the address to him and asked if that was where he lived.
CLICK. I had a deputy go out to the house, as was our policy, and explained the situation to his parents. The Deputy told me later that the kid got the chewing out of a lifetime.
8. What’s Your Pleasure?
The first time this woman called she sounded normal and asked for an officer that never worked here. She proceeded to have a general conversation about this officer while she progressively got more extreme with her moaning. As it turns out she was pleasuring herself while on the phone. I eventually (and gracefully) ended the conversation.
We traced the number to a woman in Florida, while we were located in Missouri. 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.
9. Every Parent’s Nightmare
I took a call from a man whose ~1-year-old daughter fell in the pool while unattended. At the time of the call, she was not breathing, unresponsive, and had no pulse. My partner dispatched out fire and EMS while I was on the phone. I got the child's mother to start CPR. Fortunately, she was certified and didn't require very much instruction at all.
I just had to tell her to count her compressions out loud so I could keep up. Before first responders arrived, the baby started breathing again. I had to go take a walk around the block after that one.
10. A Man’s Best Friend
My buddy was a fireman and dispatch had just alerted them of a man having chest pains. They got to the guy’s house, and as soon as they open the door, the dude’s dog runs outside. He shouts, “You let my dog out! Go get my dog! Please!” So my buddy immediately starts chasing the dog. He catches the dog, comes back to the house, and when he walks in the door he sees that the man who was having “chest pains” had actually shot a HOLE IN HIS CHEST while cleaning his firearm.
The caller had shot himself in the chest and when help arrived, he made them chase his dog down before tending to his own life-threatening wound.
11. Coochie Cobwebs
One of the wackiest call-outs we ever got was to respond to “a woman complaining of spiders in her vagina.” I’ll never forget pulling up to this major intersection where, sure enough, there is this old lady lying on the sidewalk with her pants off and legs spread up in the air. Turns out it was a transient woman in her 70s who had been having some wild hallucinations.
12. She’s Crushing It
I got a call once from a lady who wanted assistance because she fell on the floor, lived alone, and had trouble standing up. Pretty common, so I sent a crew out there. They came back and told me that the woman was kind of disappointed. This call kept coming in over the next few days. We soon realized that the woman had a crush on one of my colleagues and she just wanted him to visit her.
13. Silence Of The Line
A 90-year-old woman called up and said she was having some trouble. She was struggling to work the phone and told me she basically had a leg ulcer that had popped and that she’s on blood thinners so there was a lot of blood coming out. I dispatched an ambulance out there immediately to her, but midway through the call went silent. The next sound made my stomach drop: I heard a big thud on the floor.
I tried my best to shout on the phone to get her attention. All I could hear was very heavy breathing, but there was no reply. This continued for a couple of minutes before I could hear banging on the other end of the line, and a voice faintly shouting the lady’s name. I kept trying to rouse her myself, but I was unsuccessful. I heard the window break and a couple of voices approaching.
They finally reached her and thankfully I heard 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 caller and she told me that she could hear me the whole time and felt reassured that help was coming, but she didn’t have the strength to reply.
14. Granny’s Loaded
I worked for a dispatch company similar to life alert. An older lady in her 90s thought someone was intruding on her property and called law enforcement. However, she had severe dementia and forgot she had called them, 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 weapon.
I called law enforcement (while also talking to her) and literally on the recording, you could hear her taking shots at the officers on the scene. I got my supervisor ASAP and tried to talk her down. The officers and I eventually got her to calm down and stop firing, but apparently, she had missed an officer by just 6 inches.
15. A Helpless Feeling
I used to work for a non-emergency line, but at least a third of the calls we would take would be emergency calls (or potentially emergency calls, heart attacks, strokes etc.). I had a young single woman call late at night screaming in agony, in an absolute panic for her baby. She was completely unable to move to open the door to let emergency services in.
We were able to pass the dispatch details of any emergency call directly to emergency services even though we had to stay on the line with the patient. I remember having to sit there listening to this poor woman have a horrifically painful miscarriage and the absolute distress she was in while losing her baby. All I could do was stay on the line with her and tell her help was on the way.
16. Where’s The Remote?
My brother-in-law was an emergency operator in the U.K. and told me about a call that came through on the non-emergency number 101. All he could 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 was trying to get a response when suddenly an old guy started talking to him, obviously very confused as to why there's someone on the end of the phone. It turns out this gentleman had thought his phone was his TV remote and he was just trying to watch golf on BBC...which just so happens to be channel 101. He was very apologetic when my brother-in-law explained what he'd done.
17. Flattened Tire
I received a call saying a guy was changing a truck tire that had exploded and he is inside a wall now. I asked, "...Sorry, he's what now?" He replied, "He's embedded in the wall." I paused slightly on my end and asked if he was awake and breathing. When the caller replied, “No” to both of those questions, I told him I was going to teach him how to do CPR so we can help the victim.
The caller replied, “I don't think you understand, he is flattened halfway inside the wall, I don't think we can help him." When the crew got there, sure enough, the guy was literally flattened in a crater in the drywall.
18. A Flood Of Emotions
It was about 5 a.m. and there was local flooding in the area. I had already taken multiple calls from people trapped in the floodwaters, but all of them were able to get to safety. My next incoming call was similar but the water was rushing much faster over the road. I am onto pre-arrival instructions, telling the caller to climb out of the window and onto the windshield.
The caller then tells me that she’s 400+ pounds and so is her husband in the passenger seat of a vehicle. There were no other options but to stay in the car and wait for responders. The caller is constantly asking me if they were going to die, and what they should do. The fear in her voice each time she talks got higher.
While waiting for responders the water was now coming in the car and filling part of the floorboards. Deputies who were waiting on the edge of the water key up on the radio and say the car is starting to move with the water. Just before, I could hear the caller scream. Finally, a few minutes later the fire department arrived at the car with the caller. Luckily the firefighters were able to get both people to safety.
19. When Responder Becomes Respondee
I am a paramedic and one day we were called on to the scene for an addict. We arrived with one officer, and after finding the patient we tried to wake him up. The guy didn’t respond at first, but after a minute or so he awoke with the fury of a hundred bulls. In what seemed to be less than three seconds the patient sprung up—then he went absolutely berserk.
He punched the officer, kicked my partner out the door, and cornered me in the room with a giant knife. I have never hit the panic button on our radios faster in my life.
20. Looking For A Way Out
My mother was an emergency operator for many years. My siblings and I have heard about this one call on multiple occasions. A 15-year-old girl had been kidnapped. He had taken her clothes and threatened to kill her if she left. She was trapped in a basement with a guy with a knife. He had fallen asleep, and the girl managed to get a phone and call for help.
My mother answered the call and essentially walked this girl through getting help. My mother suggested the girl break the basement window and make a run for it. But the basement was equipped with those blocked glass windows so that wouldn't work. All of this was done by whispering as the offender was in the room, for 30 mins to an hour.
Then my mother thought up a desperate plan. She convinced the girl to take the knife and try breaking the lock at the top of the stairs. You get a two-block radius off of cell phones when in use, and so they sent squad cars up and down the blocks. Luckily, the girl remembered the car he drove. They were looking for a small two-door blue car he left parked in an alley.
It all came down to my mother and a few other dispatchers carting around squad cars and having them blare their lights in a general area until the girl could see them and the officers could zone into her exact location. The girl managed to get out through the basement’s back door and went running in the offender's shorts.
21. Seen Not Heard
I’ll never forget the time I took in a noise complaint. The caller was complaining that the children in the street were being too loud. Happens all the time, annoying but no big deal. The odd thing was she was calling me through a relay service...for the deaf. This was a younger female who was actually deaf (although I’m not sure to what extent).
We had a lot of history with this caller. We knew exactly who she was based on the address and phone number that came up. She was just grumpy and mad that the kids were playing outside.
22. Just Another Saturday Night With Grandma
I had been dispatching for a combined center that services eight rural counties for two years, and in that time I have about a half dozen calls that I’ll carry to the grave. My most memorable call was on a Saturday night from one of our BFE counties. An older southern grandma and her family had just arrived home from a dinner out in the city.
They found a box standing in front of their door, connected to the doorknob by electrical cords, and it was TICKING. I couldn’t remember all of the codes, so after I had gotten all of her information and call type, I picked up my cheat sheet trying to figure out how to code a possible explosive (It’s a 10-89, for future reference).
As I’m scanning my code sheet, the grandma pipes back up, “It’s okay, they're gonna kick it off the porch.” This does not register for a second, and the first words out of my mouth are “Wait...what?” Followed almost immediately by “NONONONONONONOhfhgfghh?!?!?!” “Oh it’s ok, it was just some electrical cords.” I’m extra grateful they didn’t get blown up.
23. Tongue Twister
I got a call and I couldn't understand the caller. He was slurring his words. I knew he was calling from a bar so I asked if he'd been drinking and after asking many times, I was able to determine that he wanted law enforcement, not an ambulance. He wanted to file assault charges because a woman pulled his tongue. I asked the caller, "How was she able to pull your tongue?" and he replied, "Because I stuck it out at her."
I had to keep muting the call because I was laughing so hard. My supervisor went on to play this call during seminars for years and it always received a ton of laughter.
24. The Whole Truth
I used to do overnight security, and have had to call 9-1-1 several times. My favorite was a gentleman who was obviously on something...jittery; touching his face a lot and couldn't sit still. He tried to break into a house next to our campus. So I dialed right then. As I'm giving them a description of what he is wearing, he starts stripping his clothes off, running across our campus.
I have to tell the emergency operator, "Yeah, he is in the middle of the street, laying down, without clothes. I think he's doing the worm." We lost the guy on camera, no clue where he was. Five squad cars showed up rounded up the only guy in our area with no shoes or a shirt. We went outside to give a statement to the officers. The guy is trying to convince them that he is the one who called them to report someone stealing his shoes.
They don't buy it for a second, but they let him go. He runs off into the night. Barefoot, no shirt.
25. Lost It To Looters
As a former emergency operator in Brazil, I was used to getting disturbing phone calls. However, oddly enough, the one phone call that I could never forget wasn't a horrifying or urgent one, it was an old man calmly telling me his house had been broken into. In the saddest voice, I've ever heard he said, "I've worked my entire life to buy these things, now it's all gone...I've lost everything."
He started crying on the phone, and my heart broke. This man was quite poor and worked a lot to buy furniture and appliances throughout the years. He was now retired and couldn't afford to buy these things anymore. I asked the officer who went to his house to get a direct report, and he told me that the old man's house had been looted clean. He really did lose everything.
26. A Tragic Loss
Around 7 a.m. a male called and said his wife was non-responsive and had difficulty breathing after her night shift at the waffle house. I dispatch in northern Kentucky, so an opioid overdose is suspected and probable. The caller was defensive and didn't want to answer questions. I heard him talking to his young daughter in the background.
The squad got there, confirmed the issue. Two doses of Narcan revived her, and they transported her to the hospital. Basically the most 'normal' and best outcome call I could deal with. Around 1 p.m. the same day, I got a call from a very scared, but as calm as can be, young girl. I answered the phone. “Where is your emergency?” I asked. Her answer broke my heart.
The young girl whimpered, "Daddy did what mommy did." I didn't get it at first. I had probably taken 3-4 more of the same cases that morning, so it didn't click. She told me he was breathing a little, but couldn't tell me her address. I couldn't send anyone to her without knowing where she was. I had to take a moment and think.
I remembered my trainer saying something about getting a license plate from outside if a child, or maybe a diabetic patient, calls and is not able to give an accurate address. Got the plate, got the registered owner’s address, and then it clicked. This child had to witness both of her parents overdosing at the age of about seven.
27. A Cold, Cruel Night
At about 10 p.m. on a Friday, an officer radioed in about a car that had pulled off on a mountain road at an overlook. The temperature was just above freezing and it was sleeting/snowing heavily. The area where the car was is well known for being a place where people party. It is about a mile outside of town on the other side of the river, and rather secluded.
The cop says he is going to turn around and make contact with the car. As he pulled up to the spot where the car he noticed was, it was gone. We then got a call for an accident just a 1/4 mile up the road from where he was. The car went off the road over the bank and into the river. The passenger had somehow managed to get out of the car and swim to shore.
Her one-year-old son and fiancée were nowhere to be found. The car was submerged by the time the officer had gotten there. The officer was absolutely shaken, and his voice over the radio was broken. Knowing there was absolutely nothing he could do. Fire Departments from all over the county searched up and down the swollen river and never found the car, the child, or the fiancé.
Rescuers were fighting to keep their boats right side up on the fast and high river. They didn’t find the car until the next afternoon with divers. The father and son were still strapped in their seats. The survivor said he was going way too fast and trying to outrun the officer that had passed them. The reason being, he had a suspended license.
28. A Walk In The Park
I had taken a call pretty late one night from a man who was walking in a sketchy park in the city. He was approached by a few males who pulled a knife on him. He was then cornered into a porta-potty. The caller told me that he was locked inside when he heard one of the males say, “let’s knock it over.” The porta-potty was knocked over with the door facing the ground so he was unable to get out.
He was from out of state and did not know where he was, so it took a lot of time to figure out exactly where his location was. He could see out of cracks in the door to give me enough information about what he could see, which luckily I was very familiar with. I stayed on the line for probably 30 minutes until officers located him. I can only imagine how horrible those 30 minutes were for him.
29. Trapped With Nowhere To Go
I was the Shift Supervisor at the time and was only supposed to answer overflow calls. I took in a call on July 4th around 9 p.m. I figured it was just another fireworks complaint or something easy, as that's what most calls on the 4th of July are. I speak with an elderly lady who tells me her house is on fire and she is trapped on the 3rd floor.
Already, my heart was in my throat. I tried to remain calm so I could try and calm this person down as much as possible. My partner, who was the other shift supervisor, instantly took control of the dispatch operations. Once the rest of the room caught wind I was on a hot call, they quieted down so that my partner and I could communicate.
In the meantime, while he was getting the fire service dispatched, I was doing everything in my power to make sure the lady kept talking to me. I ascertained as many details about the room and how to get there as I could. I had her try opening the window because at this point the room was filling with smoke. The few minutes it took for the fire department to get there felt like an eternity.
It really felt like time stopped. Once the fire department arrived they pulled up and found the house was only two stories tall, even though the lady said she was on the 3rd floor. As the fire department began making their entry, the woman collapsed. At this point, I'm not sure if she was gonna make it. After a few seconds of not hearing from her, I finally heard the firefighter’s SCBA.
I broke down in tears. The firefighters were able to rescue her. She survived and of this writing, she was still living despite having suffered 3rd-degree burns on 70% of her body. In the eight years I have been working as an emergency services operator, this was the call that broke me mentally.
30. A Little Girl’s Companion
A little girl, 4 years old at most, called crying and said that Jacky was really hurt and his arm was coming off. Her dad was out and she and Jacky were home alone. The ambulance came expecting someone with serious blood loss, possibly an injured child. Turns out Jacky did need stitches, but he was a teddy bear.
Her recently widowed father had gone to his restaurant where, for the last few weeks there had been a series of false fire alarms. Knowing it would take him 15-20 mins to deal with it, he had told his daughter that Jacky would be there for her and that it wouldn't take long. This time there was a real fire. The paramedics stitched and bandaged Jacky the teddy bear and waited with her until her father returned. Luckily no one was hurt.
31. The Cupboard Is Not Bare
I was training a paramedic to answer calls and this eerie dude called. There was a lot of heavy breathing and weird metal sounds clicking in the background. He told us he had serious bleeding but would not specify from where or what. My paramedic trainee whispered to me that his paramedic friends were going to this job. He whispered it in a happy not concerned voice, but I was FREAKING out. I had chills.
The caller said stuff like, “Please don’t turn the ambulance lights on and park around the back because I don’t want anyone to know you’re here,” and “I’m upstairs and the door is unlocked and sorry that no lights in my house work.” We radioed the crew and told them not to go in and that law enforcement had been dispatched and to wait until they arrived.
Of course, we stayed on the line with the heavy breathing guy who said he was in the upstairs cupboard waiting. Next thing I knew I heard the paramedics’ voices call out, “Where are you?” Law enforcement was still 15 mins away. My heart jumped into my throat—I totally thought they were done for! We were all silent and the caller was breathing heavily and not responding.
Then I hear, “There you are! I found you! You were in the cupboard! How can I help? Oh here let me help you hang up the phone.” The paramedics were fine but the man was sitting in the closet with a weapon and bullets. He had cut his scrotum open and was stuffing it full of tissues—to stop the bleeding I guess.
32. Hit the Deck!
I took a call for an addict. A male, in his 20s, had gone into cardiac arrest. His girlfriend and his buddy call. They are very compliant, after a little distress, the girlfriend gets right into doing CPR, listening to my instructions. I see on my screen the ambulance has arrived, and I'm calmly starting to prepare her for them coming in.
Minutes pass, and no one has entered the house. I'm used to a little delay, but this is unusual. I'm about to flag my supervisor, but she's on her way over from dispatch. "Hey, can you ask the caller to tell her friends to stop throwing deck chairs, our guys can't get in until they do?" Apparently, this was house wasn't exactly fond of law enforcement.
There were several others standing up on the first-floor balcony, throwing deck chairs. I told the girlfriend, "Hey, can you ask your friends to stop throwing deck chairs, we can't get our officers in while they're doing that, and we might have to call in law enforcement." The phone drops and I can hear her yelling in the background.
Stuff was being thrown, and I was trying to get some attention back because I think CPR has stopped. Finally, there's quiet, and I can hear the paramedics enter the house, and take control. I ended the call. I checked in with the crew later and they told me the guys thought the paramedics were there to take their things, and they needed to defend their territory with deck chairs.
It's always left me wondering how many darn deck chairs did they have?
33. Without Warning
I was on my second full-time shift, it was about 11 p.m. on a Thursday. We got a call from a female, screaming, just screaming. That's all we heard. We lost the connection. We got a second call from the neighbor across the street: "I think I just heard a shot and now our neighbor is screaming, yelling for help. I think something terrible happened."
While my partner was getting more info from caller #2 when the phone rings again and it is the original caller. She's still screaming but is trying to speak, even though I can't understand anything she's saying. After a couple of very stern "MA'AM, I need you to calm down and tell me what is going on," she's finally able to tell me that she thinks her husband just took his life.
She went on to explain that they were watching a TV show together, everything seemed normal when he got up and said that he would be right back. She heard the back deck door open and close and then she heard a shot. She ran to the door and just saw his feet and legs lying down on the deck. She called initially but was unable to control herself and accidentally hung up.
She was still a complete disaster when I talked to her, but I was able to get the basics of what happened and relay the information to responding officers. She kept telling me that she needed to go outside and help him. My only job at that point was to try and keep her calm and keep her from getting up from the corner of the kitchen floor.
That is where she had collapsed. Officers finally arrived and secured the weapon. The couple had been married 27 years, had two kids, and had three grandkids. She had no indication that anything was wrong. I don't remember her name, but I will never be able to forget her screams.
34. Mamma Mia Pizzeria
My favorite call came from two guys who thought they were witnessing a body disposal. They described a body covered in blood being thrown into the dumpster. As it turned out, it was only pizza dough and sauce. The restaurant workers were just having a grand old time throwing away the leftover extras.
35. Here’s To 50 Years...
I’ll never forget this one. A 72-year-old female had collapsed in front of her husband and stopped breathing. When I answered the phone he said, “What do I do first? She’s not breathing and I’m by myself!” I told him to run and get the door unlocked and then we can start chest compressions. Halfway through them, his back started hurting.
I told him that I didn’t want him to hurt himself and he told me, “I can’t stop. I love her, we just celebrated 50 years together.” Then he started saying things like, “You can’t leave me. You’re all I have. You can’t die. I love you.” I lost it. I’ve never cried on the phone but I did that day. To my great delight, they got her back. They visited one day and made me cry all over again.
36. As The Tides Turn
A lady had been hiking along the side of a cliff when the path collapsed in front of her and behind her, leaving her stranded while the tide was coming in. I had to stay on the line for almost an hour and a half to keep her mind off the pain that was in her legs, and helping emergency services locate her since she was far from any roads. In the end, law enforcement found her and got her to safety, but it was a crazy call.
37. Father-Son Time Gone Too Soon
I was a dispatcher for about four years in a rural county. The worst call I got was a hunting accident. A guy took his six-year-old son out hunting with him and gave the kid a loaded weapon to carry with him. The kid, while trying to get through tamarack bushes, grabbed the weapon by the barrel and dragged it behind him.
The weapon got caught on a branch and discharged into the kid's head. The father called 9-1-1 and didn't know where he was, as he wasn't familiar with the area and it wasn't his land. All he could tell me was that they had passed a lake or pond on a dirt road. There are several dirt roads with ponds, and I was able to narrow it down to six roads with the location data from the cell towers.
At the time, triangulation in rural areas stunk. I dispatched every deputy I had on duty (all two of them), the one city cop I had on duty, and both our ambulances and fire trucks to the area. The State Patrol also assisted with the search. It took us over 20 minutes to find them, and the whole time the father wept uncontrollably screaming "please don't be gone" over and over again.
I gave him instructions from the flip chart to check the boy’s vitals, try to stop the bleeding, etc. My instructions only lasted about five minutes, and I had given him all the info I was trained to give. The remaining 15 felt like an eternity. From what the father told me and what I was told by the deputies after, the boy was pretty much gone immediately after the accident.
The EMTs still went through with their routines and loaded him into the ambulance because none of them felt comfortable doing otherwise In the situation. This was my first shift back after the birth of my son, so I think that's why it sticks with me.
38. Relaxing At The Cottage
I will never forget this call because of how calm the caller was. I had just sat down when a woman called in, calmly stating she was at a cottage with her fiancée on a lake in cottage country. She was relaxing on a lawn chair on her dock when she looked across the bay and saw a man casually walk out holding a human head.
He proceeded to swim around in the lake with it, screaming that he was “free.” I remember feeling horrible because I had to tell her that she couldn’t go inside or look away because I needed to know exactly where the man was for officer safety reasons. The more senior operators even told me they had never seen anything like that.
39. An Early Arrival
There was a woman who called and was about to imminently deliver twins prematurely at 27 weeks. She had delivered the one into the toilet. The second baby hadn't been delivered yet. I had to tell her how to give CPR to her baby. However, she couldn’t get it flat on the floor as the umbilical cord was being stretched. I managed to get her to saddle the toilet with the lid down.
I had her place the baby between her legs and perform compressions. She lived in a remote area and it took 40 mins for help to get there, which had to have been a record for the distance and conditions they traveled. She kept saying that she told the father to go to work. She told me that he works away from home for weeks at a time and can't be contacted.
He wouldn't find out about what had happened for a couple of days. The woman required blood en route, but made it thankfully.
40. Oh Deer
My grandfather was an emergency services operator. He received a call from a man on the side of the road. The man was asking all these questions about roadkill and what to do if you hit an animal. My grandfather politely tells him to call animal control or wildlife, fish and game (depending on the animal and if it's alive or not), but the man seems frazzled.
My grandfather is a no-nonsense guy and says, "Spit it out already." The man replies, “Well I'm asking if I hit a deer with my car...can I take it home to eat it?” My grandfather took a moment. Technically no the man couldn't, it has to be reported to the wildlife office, but he also understood that times were tough.
My grandfather asked the man if he had already loaded the animal into his vehicle, to which the man responded, “Uh yeah.” My grandfather asked, “And you're sure it's a goner?” There was a long silence as the man shuffled to check. My grandfather heard some distant screaming and swearing, a loud commotion, and then silence.
The man suddenly came back and asked, “Could you send an ambulance to my location? The buck dug an antler into my shoulder and got away.”
41. Love Thy Neighbor
A guy was getting intimate with his neighbor's wife, but the neighbor happened to arrive home early. The guy grabbed his clothes and tried to get back to his house through the fence, but he fell over. His testicles ended up getting stuck between two metal bars in the fence. He asked to send "silent" help, as the neighbor's wife was having "distraction love making" with her husband so that he wouldn’t notice.
42. I’ll Take A Large Pie With A Side Of Help
I had a call that didn’t sound like much at first but was actually pretty serious. I answered a call and asked what was going on. The caller replied, "I'd like to order a pizza for delivery." I thought it was another prank call. I told the caller that they had reached emergency services. She replied, "Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom, and peppers?"
I replied, "Ummm…I'm sorry, you know you've called 9-1-1 right?" She confirmed, "Yeah, do you know how long it will be?" I continued, "Ok, Ma'am, is everything ok over there? Do you have an emergency?" She replied, "Yes, I do." I finally realized what was going on. "..And you can't talk about it because there's someone in the room with you?"
"Yes, that's correct. Do you know how long it will be?" I told her, "I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?" She said there weren’t any and asked if she could stay on the phone with me, to which she replied, "Nope. See you soon, thanks." As we dispatched the call, I checked the history at the address.
I saw there had been multiple previous domestic calls. The officer arrived and found the female kind of banged up, and boyfriend intoxicated. The officer took him into custody after she explained that he had been harming her for a while.
43. Shout It Out Loud
I had a life alert call once and an elderly lady walked into her closet and got stuck in there. The thing with life alert is they have a pendant to call us, but to talk back the main box is like a speakerphone. Hers was in the living room and she was trapped in the bedroom closet. I had to yell everything and my whole office could hear everything I was saying and trying not to laugh too loud since I was on the phone with this lady until paramedics got there.
44. The Elephant In The Room
An old woman called, extremely confused, because she said that there was an elephant in her back garden. I question her but she is insistent that there is a fully grown elephant in her garden. She’s frightened—probably because she thinks there is a giant elephant in her back garden. The immediate assumption is that this woman may have dementia.
An officer is sent to do a welfare check on the poor woman. When he got to her house, she let him inside and took him through to the kitchen to look out into her garden and, yep, there was an elephant, and it was eating her plants. The officer called for backup. Turns out there was a circus relatively nearby and the elephant had escaped overnight.
45. No Day At The Beach
During the remnants of a hurricane, there was a dispatch for the EMTs to be called out. A few districts down from us, a big heavy wooden umbrella had been picked up by a sudden strong gust of wind. It drove through an 84-year-old woman’s face, pointy end first. It went in through the mouth, and out through the jaw.
46. Demon Slayer
I got a call from a gentleman reporting an issue with his toilet. For whatever reason, it was a bit hard for me to understand exactly what the problem was, except that it definitely involved his toilet. After a little while, I determined to the best of my ability that the toilet was overflowing and he didn't know what to do.
Although plumbing issues are absolutely not an appropriate reason for calling an emergency number, it wasn't unheard of. To a certain extent, I can understand the thought process and people have certainly called it for less. After a bit more talking, however, I realized that he had not called about a plumbing issue. It wasn't water that was coming out of his toilet, but demons.
The demons were spilling out of his toilet and he needed help. I put in a complaint for law enforcement and kept him on the phone. It was a busy evening and the officers wouldn't be able to get to him for a few minutes, so I asked if he could close the toilet lid. He said he could and he did. I asked him if this stopped the demons from coming out of his toilet and he told me it did. This made him calmer and I was able to release the call.
47. Behind Closed Doors
A 14-year-old girl called law enforcement about a disturbance. Officers showed up and everything seemed average. Parents advise the reporting party was upset because she wasn’t allowed to go out with her boyfriend. Officers were getting ready to leave after being there for 40 minutes—but they started to get a really bad feeling about the whole situation.
The two officers took the 14-year-old outside and near their patrol units to speak to her. While they were walking outside the girl's mother, stepfather and two sisters go and stand on the porch to see if they can see what is going on. They were unable to hear due to the officers and girl being on the other side of the street.
It was then that the stepfather started pacing and went inside. The girl broke down and told the officers that her stepdad had been assaulting her for years and he didn't want her to go see her boyfriend because he was jealous. The officers looked up at that moment—but they were too late to stop what was coming. They had to watch as the stepfather shot the mother in the back of the head.
He proceeded to shoot the reporting party's older sister in the chest and her younger sister in the leg as they started running away. One officer returned fire while the other was shielding the reporting party. The stepfather ran inside the house and barricaded himself. The reporting party told the officer that her two brothers were inside with the stepfather.
Backup arrived and surrounded the home. The officers made a forced entry after they heard gunfire from inside. They stormed the residence and found the stepfather deceased with his two biological sons in the same room. The mother and older sister passed away instantly, and the younger sister was hospitalized. It took hours to get in contact with any other family. Eventually, we were able to get in touch with her grandparents and she left with them.
48. Daredevil Disaster
I took a call from a panicked woman advising me of a rollover crash that happened near her house. She lived near the top of a blind hill that people liked to "jump.” She told me that a girl was laying on the ground about 30 feet or so from the vehicle. When asked if the girl is alive, she says, "Oh yes, she's wiggling around on the ground. My daughter is a nurse, she's checking on her now."
Awesome. We hardly ever are lucky enough to have a trained professional on the scene before a med unit can get there. She tells me her daughter is starting CPR. My caller was getting frantic again and we already had first responders on the way, so I started asking more questions about the scene.
Her daughter breaks CPR to get on the phone with me and tells me she can do compressions only. Confused, I asked why—but the answer nearly made me scream. The girl's jaw was completely gone. A bit stunned, I told her to continue compressions. But rather than getting put back on with the original caller, I hear the scared voice of a teenage girl, the driver: "Is my friend going to be okay?"
I couldn’t find anything to say for a moment. Finally, I said, "They're doing CPR, dear and we have help on the way. Are you and the other passenger okay?" "We're fine. Just please tell me she's okay." The girl on the ground was confirmed D.O.A. She had been laying down in the back seat without her seat belt on because she had a headache. She was 15.
49. Newbie Nightmare
I was a student paramedic when we had a call broadcast over the radio. I was chilling with my mentor in a two-man ambulance. The operator who was broadcasting said something along the lines of: "Female, reportedly unconscious, law enforcement on scene, major trauma (pause)... CPR in progress, confirmed arrest by officers on scene."
My mentor looked at me. We were off in 30 mins, but we went anyway. We were just around the corner, so we made it there in no time at all. There are officers EVERYWHERE; at least seven squad cars. I was nervous as heck, and so was my mentor. As we approached the house, a man emerged, in handcuffs. He looked content enough and smiled at us as we walked by. That freaked me out—but I wasn't prepared for the scene we were about to enter.
Officers shout for us to hurry, we run over with equipment to the front door and are met with one of the worst scenes I've ever seen and will always be there in my mind. A woman was lying on the ground, with the left side of her head caved in, blood all over the place and brain matter scattered around the floor too. Officers were doing CPR, we stopped them when we saw the patient had signs of pooling and rigor mortis.
I was literally sweating and on the verge of tears. Then, from behind us, we heard more officers in the house and the sounds of children. Two children were escorted out of a bedroom behind us with their eyes covered. I've never been traumatized by a job, but those kids being shielded from what just happened to their mother will stick with me forever.
50. What’s That Smell?
One of our unit secretaries had just received a call about a possible decomposing body. A neighbor had called in about a terrible smell coming from a property. Hazmat was called and everything, expecting a human body. Once they broke into the house, they found that it wasn’t a human—but it was honestly even more disturbing than that. There were 38 dogs in the house.
Eleven of the dogs were deceased and in varying states of decomposition. The two people who owned the house were taken into custody and charged with 51 counts of animal cruelty. All of the animals left alive were taken to the humane society, where half of the county donated food or blankets for them.