One of the first safety rules we learn as kids is to ONLY call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency—but sometimes, people stretch the definition of "emergency" pretty darn thin. From conflicts between friends, neighbors, spouses, and strangers, to the slightest health concerns, sometimes people can blow up their issues way out of proportion and even involve the authorities. Here are 50 times that emergency services definitely did NOT need to be notified.
1. It’s A Dog’s Life
Several years ago, shortly after I had moved into my current house, my neighbor at the time would get mad at me for letting my dog poop in his yard. Now, my dog only goes out in the front yard when I'm with him, and I keep him contained in my yard. Sometimes he sneaks a squat when I'm tending the garden, but I usually catch him in the act and use a leaf or something to toss the pile back into my yard.
However, my backyard is fenced off by a wooden privacy fence that was in disrepair, so I figured my neighbor was complaining about my dog slipping through somewhere and pooping in their backyard. Fair enough, so I go through and repair all the gaps I can find with new boards, and all is well. Next day, I come home from work and my neighbor is complaining about dog droppings in his yard again.
I suggest it must be someone else's dog, he suggests I go screw myself. Whatever, I've done my due diligence, I'm done with their nonsense. I wanna say it was about two to three days later that a cop knocked at my front door. Law enforcement already makes me nervous, but when I opened the door, my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe what he was holding. In his hands was a bag that my neighbor had given him with a huge dog poop in it, and I mean HUGE, almost two inches in diameter.
The officer explains that my neighbor was filing a nuisance complaint against me because I let my dog drop in his front yard, and had been so kind as to provide this bag of evidence of my dog's wrongdoings. He had barely finished his introduction when my 11lb Pomeranian finally woke up from his nap and came bounding to the front door to be petted by the owner of this new voice.
I said something along the lines of "Officer, if my dog left THAT, I don't think he would be able to walk right now". He laughed, petted my dog, and wished me a good day. Meanwhile my neighbor's Bull Mastiff is wreaking havoc in their back yard...
2. Interior Design Emergency
I received a call on the non-emergency line from a 90-something-year-old lady asking me what lamp she should put in her bedroom. I told her that I did not understand her question, and that the sheriff’s office was not the correct place to ask. Eventually, she got upset and said, "Fine I’ll call 9-1-1, they’ll help me there!"
I tried to tell her that 9-1-1 would just go back to me and it was a misuse of an emergency line, but it was too late. Fifteen seconds later 9-1-1 rings, I answer, and lo and behold it was the lady asking, "What lamp should I get for my bedroom?"
3. My Couch, My Rules
A woman once called because her pregnant 14- or 15-year-old granddaughter, who was living with her and sleeping on her couch, wouldn’t get off the couch so she could use it to watch TV. The woman felt very indignant when I asked, "What exactly do you want law enforcement to do?" Officer cleared the call with, "She’s got nowhere else to go, and grandma said it’s okay for her to stay".
4. World’s Worst Neighbor
I once had law enforcement called on me by my neighbor. He called because there was a car parked on the street by his backyard. It wasn’t blocking the parking space in front of his house, nor was it on his property, nor was it inconveniencing him in any way. It also was not my car nor the car of anybody I know. Oh, but it gets worse. Same neighbor called law enforcement on me for animal brutality.
My dog was in my fenced in backyard with a bowl of food and a bucket of water in the shade. He told them that I chained him up all day and night with no food. I showed the officers my pup and was just like, why would I chain up a dog in a fenced in yard? Same neighbor called law enforcement on me for "verbal assault" when he knocked on my door and said it was against the law to leave my trash can by the road a day after pick up and I told him to screw off and closed the door.
And do you want to know the weirdest part? I never did anything to the guy to get him to start this and from what I asked the other neighbors he didn’t do that to them.
5. Road Rage Is No Emergency
I caught a call in which the caller complained about getting cut off in traffic on the third or fourth day on the job. The caller was an extremely self-important village councillor from a tiny barely incorporated municipality in the next county over. "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM???" No Ma'am, you won't give me your name. "YOU SHOULD RECOGNIZE MY VOICE!!!" From where? "FROM THE MEETING MINUTES! I'M A VILLAGE COUNCILOR!!!"
Like…okay, whatever, I guess. The bad man cut you off? Uh huh? He's driving a red truck, got it. Plate? No, of course you don’t remember, you were too busy being mad to get his plate. No, I don't know that red truck, this county has about a hundred thousand people in it, and many red trucks. My supervisor? Gladly.
6. If You See Something
I’m not an operator, but once someone called 9-1-1 on me for "leaving an unattended bag" in the park by our house. The thing was, it was in a town of less than 1,000 people. The park is tiny. I was there the entire time. I set the bag on the table while I played with my young kids. The entire park is visible from any direction.
I was never more than 100 ft from my son’s diaper bag. Some officers came and seemed really confused when they saw me and asked if it was my bag. I was, like, yeah? Then they told me why they came, and I was floored. They were annoyed with whoever called and left without further questioning
9. Jingle All The Way
I called the non-emergency line once for my across-the-way neighbor playing Christmas music at all hours for seven months straight. Turns out I live next to a deaf building and the person had no idea that their music was 1) playing 24/7 and 2) so loud I could hear it in any room of my apartment across the driveway.
The operator was absolutely cracking up because I was like, look, it’s now July, and I just can’t take hearing "Holy Night" one more time. The call back I got when they made contact with the person was absolutely hilarious—the officer couldn’t stop chuckling every few words.
8. The Gates Are Too Open
I had a guy call 9-1-1 because he lived in a gated community, and the gate was stuck...open. Like, it just wouldn't close. Nobody was trapped or anything, it was just left open. And he said, and I quote, "Well, I don't have a number for emergency maintenance, so I figured you guys would know somebody". I was absolutely floored.
9. Free Trip?
I’m not a dispatcher, but when I was in EMS we were dispatched to a psych call. When we got there, this lady was standing outside her house ready to go to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, I was talking to her and trying to get her vitals when she told me there was nothing wrong with her, that she heard a family member was in the hospital and needed a ride, so she called 9-1-1. Law enforcement met us at the hospital for her.
10. Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News
I’m a firefighter, and last week I listened to a dispatcher send EMS and Law Enforcement to a house because the man couldn't get a hold of his doctor by phone. At 9 pm. On a Sunday. The first officer on scene cleared the call in seconds, and said he left a message on the man’s doctor’s phone and that the guy was happy again.
11. Context Is Key
I was a 9-1-1 operator for four years, and a woman in a rich area called law enforcement on a black man. Me: "Ma’am, can you describe the person?" Caller: "He’s wearing a pastel polo shirt and he’s in a truck that says Optimum. He’s working on the wires and cables but I don’t know…he just looks like he doesn’t belong here".
Me: "What’s suspicious about the person?" Caller: "Well, he’s black and this is [insert rich town here]" The twist? He was employed by Optimum and was fixing the cable…ON THE CALLER’S OWN HOUSE. She had called Optimum to fix her cable, and then called 9-1-1 on the very guy that she had asked just for.
12. You’re Getting Sleepy…
A female in her 40s called 9-1-1 and starts the call by saying that she "doesn’t really believe in this sort of thing, but…" She goes on to tell me that her mother had recently passed on and she inherited a large sum of money. She then decided to visit a psychic, which of course she doesn’t really believe in, but paid money to go see her anyway.
This "psychic" goes on to tell this poor woman that her mother was stuck between worlds and couldn’t get into heaven. And wouldn’t you know it, giving more money to the psychic was the only way to get her into heaven! How convenient! Instead of telling the obvious scam artist to get lost, she actually gives the money to her in four separate payments. For a grand total of $105,000!
And now the psychic has stopped taking her phone calls and has left the state—it’s amazing what people will fall for.
13. "9-1-1, Where’s Daddy?"
My baby sister was watching TV and learned 9-1-1 gets the police. She also knew that Daddy is an officer. That was a dangerous combination. One day, she called 9-1-1 and asked if she could talk to Daddy. When the lady tried to clarify, my sister got embarrassed and hung up. My mom was just going to the bathroom and didn't even see my sister leave the couch.
The officers had a good laugh about that one and thought it was the cutest thing they'd ever heard. She got a sticker and my mom called my dad to tell him too, so she did get to call Daddy and learned that 9-1-1 is for emergencies only.
14. Don’t Mess With The Cooks
A woman called 9-1-1 right as she drove into the county I worked for. She was screaming about how the Burger King employees in our county need to be locked up because they threw a milkshake at her. I ask her some clarifying questions. Then I ask her if she’s sure this took place in our county, because we don’t have a Burger King in that area, but the neighboring county does.
She called me an idiot and told me to "just send the coppers". I come to find out, she ordered her food at Burger King but then didn’t want it because she didn’t know "there were a bunch of dumb black folks working there". The manager of the joint threw the lady’s milkshake right at her through her car window.
Another one, a very pregnant lady called 9-1-1 because the restaurant she ordered from got her order wrong and wouldn’t refund her. She sobbed to me about how she’s pregnant and she just wanted this certain dish. She threw the order of food at the worker, who placed his own 9-1-1 call for assault. That probably didn’t work out in her favor.
15. Maybe Get Rid Of The Drums?
I am a prosecutor in a rural county. Misusing 9-1-1 is a misdemeanor here, but 99% of the time, people that do it just get told not to call except for a real emergency. That said, our 9-1-1 center is pretty small, so it’s important to keep frivolous calls off the lines. I’ve only had a couple of people charged with 9-1-1 misuse before.
I once prosecuted a woman that was constantly calling 9-1-1 while tipsy because her husband was being "an annoying jerk". We finally charged her after multiple warnings from law enforcement because she called 9-1-1 over twenty times in a day; her husband had gotten angry and was loudly playing drums in the house to get back at her. I worked out a deal where she ended up getting a slap on the wrist from the judge with a condition that she’d likely get prison time if she called 9-1-1 for a non-emergency issue again.
16. The Disappearing Matchbook
Once got a call about a stolen matchbook from the caller’s front porch. Ashtray and everything else were left untouched. Caller was so worked up and concerned about a prowler that I sent an officer over. Matches were located in the garden, where they had fallen over the railing. Caller immediately demanded the officer leave the property.
17. Knuckle Up
My mum is a paramedic and told me this story that somehow made it to her from dispatch. "Oh," said the caller, "I had just picked up my fork to start eating my dinner when I heard a crack in my finger, so I think it might be broken". The patient had cracked a knuckle, that was it. She ended up getting TRANSPORTED to the hospital via ambulance for an X-ray because she was adamant that it was broken.
18. Think Of The Children!
Little known fact, but without an explicit court order stating custody, either parent is entitled to take their children wherever they want, even against the wishes of the other parent. So, if a husband and wife are fighting or going through a divorce and have even agreed to one having custody...that isn't binding without a signed court order.
A separated wife and husband were having a real go of it one day, and the guy decides to load his kids up in the car and get them away from their mom who was throwing stuff. She called ranting that he was taking HER kids to the movies, and he's not allowed to do that. "Ma'am, do you have the signed custody agreement in your possession?" "I can't find it, now go get my kids!" "We can't do anything without the order, Ma'am...but it is prohibited to say an order exists when one doesn't". Boy, did she start screaming.
19. Them Bones, Them Fried Bones
I'm not an operator, but my mom once called 9-1-1 for a completely ridiculous reason. I had just moved out at the tender age of 19 and was living halfway across the States from my parents’ home. I was eating some fried chicken with my then-boyfriend when all of a sudden, a piece of sharp bone broke off and went down my throat.
I was rather sheltered and had high anxiety. I was at least 80% sure this was fatal, but I had no money and no insurance, so of course, I wasn't about to put myself into life-crippling debt over the 20% chance that it wasn't. So, who did I call? My mom, of course. I don't know why, she didn't know a lot of things, but I just needed my mom.
Anyway, neither of us knew, but I thought that we had determined that it was most likely going to be okay and that was that. NOPE. I got a call 15 minutes or so later from someone wanting to see if I was okay. It was about 12 years ago, so I don't remember exactly who called, but it turned out that my mom called 9-1-1 after hanging up the phone.
That's right, she called her local emergency line about her daughter who swallowed a chicken bone (but was otherwise okay) in an entirely different state. I was so embarrassed, but looking back I guess it was really cute? She has passed on since then, but I remember the story fondly.
20. Be A Listener
When I was in college studying Police Foundations, 90% of my professors were retired or still-serving officers. One of the instructors was telling us about an older lady whose husband had recently passed on. She was dialing 9-1-1 every day because she was lonely and wanted an officer to come and keep her company.
They had tried explaining to her that 9-1-1 was for emergencies only, but she couldn’t help it. To her, she was alone and wanted to have someone with her, so it seemed like an emergency. Eventually, my professor was the one to respond to the call. So, he went to her house and sat with her. She made tea and put out some cookies and they sat and talked until he had a call. In his eyes it was public service.
He made a deal with her. If she agreed to stop calling for this reason, he would go to her house and have tea and cookies once every rotation of shifts (about once a week). She never called 9-1-1 for that reason, and every week he’d stop by and have tea and cookies until she passed on a few years later. He finished the story saying something like this: "We should never forget that although law enforcement is a big part of our job, public service comes in many forms".
21. This Is No Pajama Party
"County 9-1-1, where's your emergency?" "My neighbor is mowing his yard in pajamas. And I don't think that's very necessary". "Excuse me...? Ma'am, is he threatening you or harming you?" "No, but he's nearly undressed in his yard. Can you get a cop here to tell him to put clothes on?" "How about I let an officer give you a call about it, Ma'am?"
"Sure, that'll be fine! I'm tired of seeing old shirtless men mowing their yards early morning. My number is blah blah blah". "Okay, I'll give this to the officer directly..". She hangs up. Me on the radio: "County 9-1-1 to North County", "939, go ahead". "I have some telephone traffic regarding a shirtless old man mowing his yard, subject is requesting you to give her a call". I hear a sensible laugh over radio, "Sure thing, I'm ready to copy". I give him her number.
Five minutes later; "939 to County 9-1-1," "Go ahead". "It's gonna be a civil matter, she told me she's going to start mowing her yard undressed. I'll be 10-8". Me, in tears of laughter: "10-4 14:32". Our Computer Aided Dispatch is being updated and this happened when I couldn't send texts over the software itself, otherwise I would've just thrown the comment in the narrative and he could've read it. Fun times.
22. Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?
A woman called in a man walking down the street in her neighborhood. Not being loud or suspicious or disruptive in any way, just walking along the sidewalk. "Ma'am, what exactly is the problem then if he's just walking down the street?" "Well, he just shouldn't be walking here. They have no business in our neighborhood".
So she called law enforcement, on 9-1-1 rather than the non-emergency line, because a black man was minding his own business walking down the street. She just kept saying "he shouldn't be walking here!" and eventually I snapped back with "Would you feel better if he was running?" It was one of those moments where you immediately think, "Dang, now I have to find a new job".
23. It’s Not That Kind Of Venom
I work in the ER. We received a patient who arrived by ambulance because of a bite on his foot, which he suspected might come from a venomous spider/scorpion etc. We live in a country where there are no venomous spiders or scorpions. Upon arrival, he realized that he'd have to wait for a doctor to attend to him (as he wasn't exactly prioritized in triage), so he left. Wow, such an emergency.
24. My Snowman Now
I’m not a dispatcher but my hometown received national attention when a woman rang 999 because her snowman had been stolen from her garden. An actual snowman. Not a ceramic garden decoration, or a valuable of any kind, but a facsimile of a man made out of fallen snow. The words "Someone's nicked mah snowman" haunt me to this day.
25. Where Am I On The Map?
I’m not a 9-1-1 operator, but I do mapping for 9-1-1. An operator had a call once from someone that was extremely concerned that emergency services wouldn't be able to find his house if he ever needed them. Not a reason to call the emergency number, but still a valid concern. The call gets kicked over to me and I'm on the phone with him going through a checklist to verify the location of his address.
I ask him a few times what prompted his concerns about emergency services not being able to find his house and he just mumbles something like, "I just know they won't". I eventually get things worked out, I make sure his address is in our system and in the correct location, and I assure him that we will be able to find his house. I was absolutely not prepared for his bizarre response.
There are a few seconds of silence on his end, then he says, "Well if the government know where I live and can get here, why the heck couldn't Pizza Hut find my house last night?!" He hung up before I could say anything.
26. Birds Do It, Bees Do It
Just got this call a few days. I’m a state dispatcher, so I also dispatch for my state’s department of game and fish. A woman was calling claiming that she was in a car crash because of the turkeys. Since I’m a pretty fresh dispatcher, I don’t have all parts of the state memorized, so I got more information. It turns out it’s *ahem* rutting season for turkeys.
The lady said there were "turkeys rutting all over the place". In the roads. In the trees. On top of cars. Attacking people. Everywhere. The caller stated that she was driving, and she saw a turkey finish rutting, and it jumped straight into her car, causing damage. I sent a Game and Fish officer to take the report, and the officer stated this at the end:
"Clear me with a supplemental report. The reporting party wanted us to do something about the turkeys. I informed her that it’s rutting season and turkeys are going to rut". Pretty funny call for a fresh dispatcher.
27. Always Replace The Roll
The pettiest call had to be the elderly male who wanted a full medical run (Ambulance and a Fire Truck) to change the toilet paper on the roll and swap out a light bulb while they were there. I definitely called the on-call captain for that one, and his response was "We are NOT going out on that". The elderly male wasn’t happy to hear that.
So he called our law enforcement line which, well, also rings into me. He requested law enforcement for a discrimination suit—oh, and to change his toilet paper and light bulb while they were there. The Watch Commander went out and handled that one—and left without changing the toilet paper or the light bulb. He was advised if he ever called back for that type of call, he would be spending the night locked up for misuse.
28. Not Your Water, Steve
I’m not one, but one of my old neighbors called 9-1-1 on the other one for watering their lawn on a day they weren’t allowed to. During the summer, the even-number addresses in our neighborhood can water Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and the odd-numbers on Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday to conserve water. This was in an area of $2 million or more homes, so it’s basically just rich people pettiness to the max.
29. Why The Wait?
I was in the ER waiting room with a particularly bad kidney stone. I had already been there for three hours, and the waiting room wasn't really all that full. I had already gone through triage, so I was wondering, what the heck? So finally I go up to the receptionist-type person and ask her how much longer does she think it will be. She responds with: "Oh, you were next, but someone came in by ambulance with a sore throat".
An ambulance for a freaking sore throat?! It was at that moment I totally lost faith in humanity. Luckily, I was called in about ten minutes later, and ten minutes after that I finally got some painkillers.
30. "Well Done!"
Some old woman actually phoned 999 to ask the operator to tell David Cameron he was doing a great job. The understandably irritated operator told the woman that the line was for emergency use only, to which the old woman responded by asking the operator if she could get her a contact number for the Prime Minister himself.
31. Urine Trouble
I’m not dispatch, but EMT. This was the pettiest call we ever had. My partner and I show up in the morning to find out we have a trainee on our shift. It’s his first rideout during his EMS school. Cool. Nice kid. About two hours later, we get paged out for "Prostate problems. No further information". All right. Sounds like fun. We show up at an assisted care facility (not full nursing home, think more apartments that have a nurse on staff). We make contact with the patient; I send the student to do vitals while I start questioning him.
Is he having pain? Discomfort? More urine output? Less urine output? Funny feelings on urination? Discharges? Anything? All negative. Finally, I tell him I need some help. Why does he think he is having prostate problems? Well, it's Saturday morning. And he just watched a medical show that mentioned that it's important that men his age get their prostate checked once a year. And it had been about 15 months since he had a prostate exam. And he called his primary care physician and couldn't get an appointment until Monday morning. I was completely stunned.
In over five years of EMS, this is one of like three patients that I ever tried to talk OUT OF going to the hospital. But he wanted transport, so we gave it to him. We radio the hospital ahead when bringing in a patient. This is the only time I ever said, in front of the patient, "I'm sorry for what I am about to tell you". We get to the hospital, and as we are moving the patient into a bed, this older male nurse storms into the room and starts laying into me. Why? He thought I was joking when I called in the report.
When I assured him that it was legit, he turned to the patient. I can't remember his exact words, but it was something like this: "You actually called a freaking ambulance to bring your sorry butt into the EMERGENCY ROOM for a PROSTATE EXAM that you couldn't wait two days for?!!?!!?" The patient looked shocked, but nodded. The nurse turned to the tech that had entered the room".
Get this idiot a prostate exam and get him the heck out of my ER!" he then slammed the clipboard he was holding down on the counter. As we were cleaning the ambulance, my trainee looked at me. "Is it always like this?" he asked, hope dying in his eyes. I clapped him on the shoulder and said, "Welcome to EMS".
32. "But I Was First!"
I once answered a call from a man about a noise complaint. It was pretty standard stuff at first. But then, all of the sudden, a priority call came out and the unit on the way to the noise complaint was pulled off to respond to the burglary in progress (i.e. the bad guys were still there, the team needed to act immediately).
About ten minutes later, we get a call from the same guy ranting and raving about why we aren't there yet. I tell him that it's because a higher priority event has occurred which needed multiple deputies to respond. He says he doesn't give a hoot about that, and that his call should be responded to first because he called first.
He then proceeds to call back every five minutes for the next 30 minutes or so until our watch commander that night keys up on the channel to say she'll be on route to the noise complaint. About five minutes after she arrives on scene, she keys up again with one in custody for misuse of 9-1-1. He was released with a notice to appear, but no custody.
33. The Appendix Conundrum
I have a friend who does dispatch for 9-1-1. They had a call about someone's pain and possible appendix bursting. The EMS, law enforcement, fire truck, and everyone else came to the scene. The person who called apparently stood up and let out a huge toot at which point their pain stopped. After 10 minutes of vitals, questions etc, all emergency vehicles left and the person refused to go to hospital.
34. Female Privilege
My colleague took a call where a lady got into a minor accident and called to report it. When law enforcement didn't get there within three seconds like the caller wanted, she called back asking where they were at. My partner explained they were on the way and told her they don't drive fast or with lights and sirens when no one is hurt or needs an ambulance. The caller then says, "Well, I'm on my period and it's a heavy flow, so…"
35. Save The Bunnies
I think I was one of these. I was a teenager, hanging out at my friend's house, and we were playing with her rabbit. At one point, we noticed that the rabbit's paw was bleeding. After panicking for a while, we call 9-1-1 and an officer comes by to respond to our call. Luckily, he was very understanding and made sure everything was okay.
As much as I usually hated growing up in that hick town, it was a good thing I lived there at the time and not a large city, so we didn't have to worry about causing too many problems, as the town had a very low rate of criminality. As in, there has only been one recorded slaying in the entire 100+ year history of the town.
36. Swindlers Be Swindling
So I work in the dispatch center for a department that serves a city whose population is just shy of a million, so naturally you'll get some wild stories about scams, especially these days. One time a younger woman calls in, she had to be in her late 20s or early 30s. Her story starts off like any run-of-the-mill hoax, ya know—someone called her from the FBI, saying that she had a warrant out for her arrest and that she could "clear her name" if she sent them money.
I asked, how much money did they ask her for? Well, she said, they told her that "all of the money in her checking account" would suffice. Yes, you read that correctly. Whatever amount of money that she currently had would do...so that's what she sent. Which amounted to approximately $4,000. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. But wait, there's so much more!
After feeling bad for her, gathering some additional information, and beginning to let her know reporting options and whatnot, she cuts me off. She says, "Well, what can I do about the verification pictures??" And I'm like, what are you talking about?... She said, "Well yeah, they said they needed to verify my identity through their body verification system, so I sent them several undressed photos like they asked me to...pictures from the front, the side, and from the back while I was bending over".
I was absolutely stunned. She had to do a quintessential "you there?" into the phone so I could come back to reality for a moment. At this point, I thought I was the one getting scammed! But she was bawling her eyes so I made no assumptions, other than the fact that there was probably even more to the story. WHICH THERE WAS.
Like a respectful kid listening to a bedtime story, I'm just like "And then what happened?" She proceeds to tell me that they then threatened to send the photos to her friends and family if she didn't pay them more money… "How much money???" you might be asking. In true FBI Body Verifying Agent form, they doubled down and said all she had in her savings account would be enough...
WHICH WAS $25,000!!!! I'm just sitting there in my chair like: please, God, no. But she did... And I've considered getting into the scamming business ever since.
37. Turtles All The Way Down
My mother was a 9-1-1 dispatcher. One of my favorite stories was a woman who called and reported that "a turtle is on my porch, and I don’t know what to do". My mom said, "You can move it or leave it there if it’s a snapper," and the woman said, "What if he can’t get down?" And my mom said, "Well, he got up there somehow so maybe he’ll find his way down".
This woman called no fewer than five more times and officers were sent to her house for a "wellness visit". She wasn’t crazy in a certifiable sense, just oddly neurotic and very concerned about this turtle and how he was going to get down from her porch.
38. Deep Breaths
A teacher of mine was a former paramedic. Once, she told us a story about the time she got called to an apartment for a medical emergency. The patient claimed that he was experiencing shortness of breath. Turns out the guy wanted help blowing up an air mattress. She said that it was 2 am and she was too tired to be angry, so she blew up his air mattress while her partner made a coffee run.
39. Here Be Monsters
I had a grown man calling in about "a monster trying to get into his son's room". He's the right kind of frantic where I know it's not a mental health crisis, but I still couldn't figure it out. Well, he’s a Middle Eastern male with a real thick accent and I was having a hard time understanding, so he gave the phone to his son. The monster, says the son, climbed up a tree and was at his bedroom window.
It was as big as his dog. And it had tiny, humanlike hands…wait, what? Right there, I told the kid to see if it had rings on his tail. He said, yes...? The family had just moved to America a month ago and had never heard of raccoons. I couldn't mute myself fast enough, and the father heard me laughing. I think that's what helped calm him down. I explained to them what a trash panda was and welcomed them to our wild North American jungle.
40. Let Go The Legos
A little kid called 9-1-1 because he wanted officers to come apprehend his brother. You see, their mom said that the caller's brother was supposed to share the Legos, but he wasn't sharing. The caller's brother said that he was playing with all of the Legos, which wasn't possible. There were too many Legos for one person to play with all of them at once, argued our caller. Therefore, his brother was a liar, a jerk, and a stupidhead, and we needed to come and bust him.
We had a high degree of confidence that this wasn't a coded request for help, so we asked to speak to an adult, confirmed that there was no distress, and closed the case. Share your Legos, kids.
41. Burn, Baby, Burn
Not me, but my wife who works both as a secretary for a fire department and is a volunteer firefighter/EMT. A lady calls asking if she can donate a building for a training burn. After asking questions, she finds out that it's not a building but an RV. More questions. No, it's not her RV, it was abandoned on her property. Just a few more questions. Well, it's not exactly abandoned. It's her ex-husband’s RV. And he's living in it and won't leave. She wants my wife's fire department to burn it down. Wife's fire department declined.
42. Curiosity Trapped The Cat
Caller called because they got their head stuck in a cat tree. With the cat stuck inside with him. Throughout the call I kept hearing like "Ow!" and "Dude, this isn't fun for me, either" "Dude, I know, AHH!" "Dude!"... Caller ended up going to the hospital for a case of serious head lacerations. Okay, I don't really know the severity, but I'm sure they got some stitches.
The other cool thing was that the caller was using an Apple watch to call 9-1-1 because obviously they wouldn't be able to hold the phone to their ear. We get about a dozen misdials from Apple watches a day, it was nice to finally see one being used for "real".
43. That’s Why The Butterball Hotline Exists!
It's Thanksgiving Day morning and I've just started my shift around 5 am. I'm the only one working for the day shift and settle in for what should be a mostly peaceful day of hanging out, eating food, playing New Vegas, and relaxing. Then my 9-1-1 line rings. I pick it up and go through the usual run down only to be greeted not by someone with a medical emergency, a fire, misdemeanor in progress, nothing like that.
She needed help with making a turkey. I told her this was an emergency line and she informed me this was an emergency because she had family coming over that night and she had to do Thanksgiving dinner. I apologize to her for her problem but inform her that it's not an actual emergency, so I need her to clear the line.
And yes, I went through our procedures to check to see if this was a domestic issue or something like that, where the individual couldn't speak freely. This was not that. She calls back a few minutes later and hangs up upon realizing it is me. She calls back again, gets me, and I inform her that it's only me working so this won't work.
Before I can tell her that Law Enforcement will come out to her location next time, she hangs up. I prayed that was the end of it. It was not. About 10 minutes later she calls again pitching a sad story about her Thanksgiving being ruined and needing help to salvage it for her family. I let her know law enforcement is on their way, she tries to call it like I'm bluffing until I read back her address. So, she hangs up.
Law Enforcement arrives and she plays dumb like she has no idea why they are there, but everything is recorded and we've had her number and address ping with every call. She gets a verbal warning and then they leave, only for her to call me back to chew me out for sending officers to her home and scaring her kids. She wants to talk to my supervisor to file a complaint.
Shockingly, this didn't get her very far, but it did get law enforcement back out to her place to actually issue her a citation for misusing 9-1-1 and tying up the lines. Monday morning, she called 9-1-1 again to complain about me and again got another citation.
44. Bigger Is Not Always Better
I was working in Dispatch when a call came in from an adult male who very slowly, methodically, and painfully explained that he had just recently been circumcised. Apparently, he and his girlfriend/wife were fooling around earlier than the doctor had recommended, and suddenly his member began to swell and swell and swell.
"It’s like…the size of a football, ma’am!" He said that. I’m totally serious. The call-taker, to her credit, kept her composure (unlike the rest of us in the room now listening in). She finally started to crack, so she put the call on hold and dispatched the call. 9-1-1 records everything as soon as you push the last "1," so we went back to listen to what happened when it was on hold…
"Baby, no! No, we can’t finish! It HURTS!!" Some persistent badgering is coming from a female voice… "BABY, did you not see this?? The head of my thing looks like a FOOTBALL!" This was definitely one of my most memorable calls. While I’m sure it was absolutely harrowing for the poor guy, it was nice to have a legit near comical call as one to keep in the memory bank.
45. Pregnant Pause
I answered phones for a rural Florida labor room, on the night shift. Most of our local doctors did not take phone calls from their patients, but rather would advise them to call the hospital if they had any after-hours concerns about their pregnancy. It was never boring. One of the more memorable patient calls was a young lady about 24 weeks pregnant.
She had heard that practicing Kegel exercises would help assist with an easier delivery, so she purchased Ben Wa balls and inserted them down there. The issue was that she could not retrieve one of them, it was stuck, and she was scared. We asked if she had a partner available that may be able to help extract the lodged ball, and she responded that her boyfriend was getting home from work in 15 minutes, but she wasn’t concerned about his ability to assist.
Her concern was that the ball would get up into her uterus prior to his getting home, and we stuck in there with the baby. We had to have a discussion about anatomy, and I advised in the future to practice Kegels without extra instruments.
46. Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh My!
I work in a moderately sized suburb. While it is rapidly expanding, LOTS of people don't realize how much wildlife is sharing their neighborhood. I took a 9-1-1 call from a gentleman that stated he has lion cubs in his backyard. There was a larger one and two babies and they had stripes. He also made a point to tell me that he didn't know HOW they had gotten into his backyard because he has a six-foot privacy fence...
Now, many people also don't know that bobcat kittens have stripes that fade as they age. He has a bobcat momma and kittens in his backyard. My agency doesn't send anyone, law enforcement or animal control, if wildlife is outside doing wildlife things. Then he uttered the phrase all dispatchers know: "But I have kids!" (It never fails, no matter the call: WhAt AbOuT tHe cHiLdReN?!?!)
The caller eventually watched momma lead her kittens from the yard through a loose panel in his fence. Out next 9-1-1 call was from the neighbor because "a bobcat with kittens is chasing a rabbit in my front yard".
47. Caped Crusaders
Dear 9-1-1 Operators Reading This: I would like to formally apologize for 21-year-old me. I was hammered and dumb and when the call connected to dispatch and asked what the emergency was, I know I shouldn’t have answered: "9-1-1, What’s Your Emergency?" With, "There is no emergency, I am the Batman".
It has bothered me ever since I sobered up the next day and realized I was a real jerk to waste your time when there were likely bigger emergencies to worry about (my anxiety is also paranoid that I kept you from saving a life). I sincerely apologize and am sorry. I also no longer drink, so there is that.
48. Parents, Am I Right?
A teenager once called because his mother had grounded him from using his PS4. He tried to cover it up by saying, "My mother is trying to hurt me mentally and physically". When we arrived, we quickly found out the truth. It’s pretty funny to think that the kid really thought we would be able or willing to do something about it.
49. Demons Belong Down There
One time a guy called and I had a difficult time understanding exactly what he was saying. He was definitely talking about something coming out of his toilet, so I thought he was calling about a plumbing issue. Unfortunately, this is not unheard of, though it is certainly not a good reason to call 9-1-1. After listening a bit more, however, I realized that he was reporting demons coming out of his toilet!
He was genuinely and very distressed by this and I didn't suspect that it was a joke or prank. Unfortunately, there was no one I could send right away, so I decided to try to help. I told him to put the toilet lid down. He took my advice and what would you know, the demons stopped coming out! He was very appreciative. We still sent someone once they were available (only a few minutes later).
50. Maybe Don’t Phone A Friend
Eight or nine years ago, my husband and I invited a couple of acquaintances over for dinner one night. They were from our local poker group. The four of us were having a great time together when one of the guys accidentally knocked over the other guy's phone and cracked its screen. The second guy went absolutely mental.
He started yelling at the first guy and demanded that he pay to repair the screen. The second guy immediately agreed but the first guy kept yelling and yelling. He called 9-1-1 and some officers came. He told them that the second guy broke his phone and he wanted to file a report. He asked them to force the second guy to give him money to repair his phone.
The officers were so confused and annoyed. We were mortified because it happened at our house and the officers knew our landlord. We never invited him to our house again.
Sources: , ,