Emergency Operators Reveal The One Phone Call They'll Never Forget
Emergency operators face the unthinkable every day - even live suicides and murder which they hear over the phone. Some wish they could forget, but many can't.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Seems like something you'd want to forget.
I heard a homicide / Suicide in real time. Guy wanted to get help for his suicidal son, and the son came out of the bedroom with a gun and shot the dad and then himself.
A preschool-aged boy with the most precious little voice telling me his daddy wasn't moving. He didn't know his address, only that he lived in a house with a green door. During the time it took to find where he was at and send help, he was telling me about his morning - his dad had told him to get his shoes on because it was 'take your child to work' day. He came back from putting on his shoes and found his dad on the bathroom floor. He was so brave and so helpful answering my questions. Turns out that Dad had overdosed and passed away.
I have a daughter that was the same age as the little boy when I took that call so it hit extra hard.
Man oh man.
We had a call from a guy who simply said:
"My address is XXXXX and I'm going to kill myself"
Then a loud gunshot. Then silence.
He just wanted someone to find his body.
Ex 000 operator (Australia's version of 911).
One of the funniest ones I had was someone drunk off their face stumbling on and off the streets while wearing a Spongebob Square Pants costume.
Final Destination situation.
Friend was an EMT for many years. He was on scene at an accident where a low-slung sports car went off the highway, into an embankment and up again. Long story short, the car hit into the "cable barriers" that are along the sides of the highway in some spots. The driver hit it at such a high rate of speed, the cable decapitated him. My friend had to go find the head (which ended up being about 50' away from the crash site).
Not much got to him in that job, but that one did...
Oh she quit, you don't say.
My cousin had to listen to her dad shoot himself. She was a 911 dispatcher and he stayed on the line (and didn't know it was her) and she heard him shoot himself. Then she had to go and identify the body since it was so bad. She quit after that.
Lots of what you think: nasty CPR calls, bad wrecks, shootings, stabbings, fires (though as bad as it sounds those are the most fun for multiple reasons)
For some reason I'll never forget this call was when this chick's boyfriend just walked up to her car at a stop sign and unloaded all 6 shots of a .22 revolver into her window. She was so confused as to why he did it. Luckily her wounds weren't bad she only had some small holes in her arm and shoulder. The worst part was she just wouldn't talk to the cops. This guy tried to kill her and she wouldn't talk to them because "I love him, I ain't snitching". We got her to the hospital and we we're getting info from her she listed him (name, address, and phone #) as her contact. The cop who came to get her info and return her purse was writing as fast as he could. He (the boyfriend) got caught by the SWAT team. I think he's awaiting trial, it was a really busy night after that.
That reminds me of a call my husband did (EMT). They had a call for a woman with an altered state. They arrive, and she's in her underwear, speaking gibberish. She had thick, curly hair. While Husband and his partner were checking her out, they looked in her hair and found something. Brain matter. The boyfriend who called had been cleaning his gun and shot her in the head by accident. She lived, and, as far as Husband knows, is healthy. I think the boyfriend went to jail for a bit.
Paramedic and dispatcher. 100% the lady who woke up in the middle of the night to her house full of smoke. Ran into garage to find husband fully engulfed. Fell smoking a cigarette and couldn't get back up. Dude was strait up seared into the ground. When we moved the body it looked like the bottom of the frying pan when you burn something. Smelled foul.
Pay your bills.
I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I took a call from a woman whose husband went out to the corner shop and came back a few minutes later on fire. He owed a lot of money apparently, and the loan shark had got sick of waiting.
Dead babies, abusive people, suicides, homicides, sexual assaults. One twisted sack of garbage who's partner killed her child so she called 911 with a very obvious lie. He then got out of jail and beat another woman's child almost to death.
All calls are unforgettable. Everyone has their problems. This job is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. We cry a lot.
Source: am 911
I am 23 years old currently and was working in 911 dispatch earlier this year. However, when I was 14 we lost a class mate who was playing in the river with his friends in the local river. There was a spot where one could swim under some quarry rocks and come up into an air pocket. He went down with his friends but never came back up. His body washed down the river and was found 1 mile downriver by some guy walking his dog. They showed me a lot of sample calls in my job and I will never forget the one from that day that boy drowned where I could hear my friend approach a woman and ask her if he could call 911 (back then we didn't all have cellphones) and when she allowed him to call the dispatch people sounded so bitchy and annoyed.. they questioned him where he was and wouldn't hear him explain (very panicked) what happened but he was just 14, he had no way to describe where he was other than "spot on the river everyone goes to" and he got more and more frustrated until he said "F*ck this!" And ran toward the river again to try to find his friend.... Another call I won't forget was a father calling in at 8 A.M. to report his one month old baby had passed away in it's sleep (likely SIDS). The man called, calm as can be, said "My baby is dead." And set the phone down and you could just hear him breathing while the dispatcher freaked out and kept asking if he wanted to try CPR.
Went to a house fire a few months ago with reports of someone still inside. By the time we got there, the house was nearly fully involved and live ammunition was going off, which made entry impossible. Once the fire had been knocked back, we began searching. I was digging through a tangled mess of burned structural components and furnishings, kind of walking/crawling over things trying to find the victim. Dirt and soot kept covering my mask, making visibility low. I reached out and felt something that felt a little different, almost spongy. I looked down and saw a pinkish colored "thing" that did not resemble a body at all. At this point, I was practically on top of it, and I was feeling all over trying to decide what it was. My face was about six inches from it since visibility was a challenge. I suddenly saw teeth and a necklace, then I knew what it was. The arms were gone, and I'm not sure if the legs were gone or just buried under something. Turns out intestines are moist enough that they sometimes stay somewhat intact, and that's what I had been putting my hands into.
When you're done, you're done.
When I was a coastguard officer part of my job was answering emergency phone calls from the public- in my day the coastguard worked differently from the other emergency services: incident commanders and the people answering the 'phones were the same folk.
You could be the dude in command of a SAR operation involving dozens of ships and aircraft in the morning and after lunch you'd be taking a call from a concerned tourist from London who's never seen a seal having a nap before and wants to put it back in the water.
It was weird, but it was great.
I remember with absolute clarity a great many of the calls I took, including the one where I realised that ten years was enough and I couldn't work there any more. It wasn't even the worst incident we'd dealt with, not by a long shot, but it was the caller's age and the fact that I was still struggling with my noggin after a number of very unpleasant incidents in the months prior where we'd failed to save a lot of people and I'd done what I always do and mentally assumed complete and sole responsibility for their deaths.
It was a little girl crying that her friend had been swept out to sea. I kept her talking while we got a helo and lifeboat out. Several times she thought her friend had drowned and did that scream that people do. I've heard it lots from adults, but never from a child.
The lifeboat guys got the girl- some guy on his first ever shout jumped in and grabbed her- and all was well in the end, but I was done.
I went and hid in the heads and had a bit of a meltdown. Like, full-on Russell-Crowe-in-Gladiator blubbing with snot everywhere and everything.
That was the day I realised once and for all that I needed to be back out on the ground, kicking doors and getting shit done.
Which is why I spent part of last night up a ladder squirting water on some guy's house.
EDIT: Missing words because shaky hands.
Sobbing, he said "get them here." He then said his address. I repeated back the address, and he said again "Please get them here." I asked his name and he sobbed harder and repeated "Just get them here." He hung up the phone. I called back, and no answer. Attempted 4 more times and no answer. I then looked up names associated with the address and saw it was a local law enforcement officer. My partner dispatched it, and units pended it. I told my partner to please have the units look at the call. They then went en route. When they arrived, they found him with a self-inflicted gsw to his head. With his service pistol. I was the last person to ever talk to him. I have never heard anyone sound like he did. I tried to get him to stay on the phone with me.
"It wasn't me!"
There's not much you can do when the righteous fist of the law comes down on you. Call it a mix-up, or call it a mistake, if someone's pegged you at the scene of a crime there's not much you can do but trust the justice system to prove you innocent. However, that's a gamble, and just because you've been given a "not guilty" doesn't mean the effects won't follow you for the rest of your life.
Reddit user, u/danbrownskin, wanted to hear about the times when it wasn't you, seriously, it was someone else, when they asked: