I simply cannot imagine being the person behind the 911 telephone switchboard. I figure 80 times out of every 100 you’ll receive legitimate emergency phone calls, but the other 20 will be people needing directions, just looking to chat, or completely whacked out of their minds. Below are stories from 911 emergency operators, or operators from other emergency phone lines, sharing tales of the ridiculous phone calls they’ve received over the years. For all of humanity, I’d just like to say: please, PLEASE, never end up as the person in one of these stories (via AskReddit):
I’m a telephone triage nurse, so not 911, but a 24 hour hotline for people to call when they are having a medical problem but aren’t sure if they need to go to the ER or not. I have a few favorite stories, but I’ll share this one:
A quite pregnant (don’t remember exactly how far along, but definitely past 30 weeks) woman calls to say that her doctor told her to refrain from having sex for the rest of the pregnancy and she didn’t understand why. I looked at her file, and saw she was having pre-term contractions, so I explained that sexual activity can cause contractions, so it was safer to abstain so the baby could stay inside as long as possible.
She tearfully exclaims, “But how will I feed the baby?!?”
Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, could you repeat that?”
Patient: “How will I feed the baby if I can’t have sex?!?”
The patient was convinced that her baby was living off of her boyfriend’s semen, and that it would starve if they stopped having sex. I explained about the umbilical cord, etc. but she refused to believe me until I asked her about single moms, lesbian moms, etc. and asked how she though their babies fed and grew. After a moment of silence, she thanked me, and started to hang up the phone, but not before I heard her screaming her boyfriends name.
That man had a good thing going for a while there. I honestly wasn’t sure if I felt more sorry for him, or a baby growing up in that household.
My mom is a 911 operator, she gets some insanely stupid calls. I remember a few years ago, there was a huge pileup involving several cars and fatalities. Clearly it caused miles of traffic. A woman called 911, insisting that she get escorted out of the traffic by a trooper, because she “had to get home”, and it was “ridiculous that she should be stuck like that”. Like, people are dead, lady, sorry you’re not gonna make it home for Jeopardy.
Oh dear god, time to fucking shine. Had a lady trying to call an ambulance because she opened a package from Amazon at home and she was afraid that that her kid was about to have a major allergic reaction… From the packing Peanuts…. because the kid was allergic to peanuts, and when her kid mentioned what they were called, she freaked out.
Had a drunk person call to report he was being harassed. Truth was….. He was being arrested by our officers for throwing pizza at people. All I heard in the background was one of my officers saying to him “that better not be our dispatcher on the phone” followed by some muffled talking and my officer taking the phone and saying “he will be taking a ride with us now” and hung up.
Still laugh about it to this day.
Also had a drunk woman call 911 because she couldn’t remember her phone pass code
“What’s your emergency?”
“I just swallowed a hairbrush”
there is no obvious respiratory distress since they are speaking fine and calmly so I move on to try to assess the situation
“How did that happen?”
“I was pissed off”
“Ok ma’am what’s the address you are at…”
A friend of mine once called 911 when when he was a kid because his aunt was having a baby…. At the hospital.
Here’s another fave:
Man calls and asks for a male nurse. This happens pretty frequently when men call to talk about genital issues, and we try to accommodate, but there weren’t any men working that evening. I assured him that I could deal with whatever he needed to discuss.
I was very, VERY wrong.
The man says that he is afraid he might have an STD, as his penis was red and swollen. So I ask about other symptoms, and if he has been having unprotected sex.
Patient: “Yes…but not with a woman”
Me: “Well, you can get an STD from sex with men or women…”
Patient: “WHAT?!? I’m not gay! I don’t sleep with men!”
Me: throughly confused “Ok sir…were you using a toy?”
Patient: “No, it was a female. Just not a woman.”
Me: even more confused and a bit scared “Ummm…Sir, could you tell me from who or what you suspect you got an STD?”
Patient: “Well, you see, ummm…My wife left me last month, and I’ve been really sad and lonely, and I have this chicken…”
Me: “A chicken? A live one?”
Patient: “Yes, a live chicken, from the coop in my backyard. She’s just so fluffy and soft, and I’m so lonely…I had sex with her. And now I have an infection, and I’m so ashamed…”
Me: “Oh. Wow. Ok. Well, uh… I don’t honestly, um… I don’t know if there are STDs which can be shared between humans and chickens. Let me make you an appointment for tomorrow morning…”
Turns out, he didn’t have an STD. Just inflammation (maybe the chicken was too small?) and advice to stick to adult humans for partnered sex.
My mom works as a 911 operator. She got a call one time from a girl in gym class at the local high school. She was in a panic and completely serious saying there was a squirrel on top of a telephone poll at the school and it wasn’t coming down.
Not an operator; I’m a prosecutor. Guy lived in a rooming house that had a public area where all the residents could hang out. It had a microwave in it provided by the landlord. Guy called 911 around midnight one night because the microwave wasn’t there. The conversation with the dispatcher went something like this:
Dispatcher: “So… you called 911 because a microwave you don’t even own is missing? Did you ask your landlord if he took it?”
Guy: “Uh, no.”
Dispatcher: “Well, that’s not an emergency, sir.”
Guy: “But I’m really hungry.”
Meanwhile, a person with an actual emergency had to be put on hold briefly because this guy was adamant that this was the worst thing to ever happen. The genius insisted that police officers be sent to his rooming house ASAP because of the missing microwave. Officers showed up–so they could cite him for improper use of 911.
The guy pleaded Not Guilty and requested a jury trial. He represented himself. The jury was out 20 minutes before it announced its Guilty verdict.
Stepside79 1767 points 9 hours ago
Police 911 operator here for 15 years. The stories I have.
I’ve had someone call 911 to know how long to smoke a brisket.
I’ve had someone call 911 to ask what the fines for parking tickets are.
I’ve had someone call 911 to wish me a merry xmas when I was working at 3am on on Christmas Morning
I’ve had someone call 911 report that their trunk wasn’t opening and they wanted to know what to do about it.
I’ve had someone call 911 in a rural community because a black dude was walking down the street and “we don’t get their kind here”.
I worked on 9/11. I had people call 911 for weeks after because there were “3 brown guys in a car and I thought you should know about it.”
I’ve had someone call 911 because they were lonely. About 1,000 times.
And many, many more.
I’ve done this for a while. Do people abuse the system? Sure. But for the most part I’m happy with how our children are taught to only use 911 if it’s a life or death emergency or if there’s a crime in progress.
I’ve never been privy to any outrageous 911 emergency calls but I have been on the calling end of the dumbest moment in history. It was like 1990 or sometime around there, and I was at a T.G.I. Fridays eating with my family in Sarasota, Florida. There was a wooden phone booth in this restaurant and I was messing around with it. Literally THE ONLY phone number I knew was 911. It was a phonebooth, I was a very young child, I thought you needed a quarter to make phone calls. So when I dialed 911 and someone on the other end answered I panicked and hung up. When the cops showed up at T.G.I. Fridays the jig was up, I panicked again, my parents knew I’d fucked up. The cops obviously laughed it off after a stern discussion because this was 1990 and America wasn’t in ruins by then…To this day I still feel like the world’s biggest dumbass from that incident.