Being a 911 operator isn’t easy: you’re talking to people when they’re more panicked than they’ve ever been; thinking quickly under pressure; and perhaps most challengingly, resisting the urge to fly into a rage when faced with utter idiocy.
The accounts below, which were shared by emergency operators themselves on Reddit, prove that even the people tasked with manning one of society’s most vital lines of communication must deal with their fair share of nonsense.
1. “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 hanging up. Still laugh about it to this day.”
2. “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. The kid was allergic to peanuts, and when her kid mentioned what they were called, she freaked out.”
3. “Caller: ‘A deer just swam across the river behind my house.’
Caller: ‘Well I am worried it might be cold.’
Me:…’Well there is nothing we can do about a deer being cold. Didn’t it run off after swimming in the river?’
Me: ‘Well ma’am it’s a wild animal and I’d guess it’s going to be fine.’
4. “Paramedic here. I had a guy who picked his wart at 3 a.m. and it was bleeding. That’s it. That’s the story.”
5. “Had a drunk woman call 911 because she couldn’t remember her phone passcode.”
6. “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, saying there was a squirrel on top of a telephone pole at the school and it wasn’t coming down.”
7. “I’ve been in the 911 biz for over 22 years. If a caller starts the call with ‘I swear I’m not crazy’ then you need to buckle up for some insanity. A guy started a call with those words after escaping from his apartment and running to the closest 7-Eleven. He swore that his roommates were turning into giant crabs. He was going to show the officers that they were currently in giant cocoons transforming. As you might expect, he was out of his mind on drugs.”
8. “I’ve been a police 911 operator for 15 years. The stories I have.
I’ve had someone call 911 to find out 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 Christmas when I was working at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning.
I’ve had someone call 911 to report that their trunk wasn’t opening and they wanted to know what to do about it.
I’ve had someone call 911 because they were lonely. About 1,000 times.”
9. “I’m a paramedic. Once we had a young woman call 911 around 2 a.m. saying that her legs were turning blue. Turns out she had worn a new pair of jeans to the club that night.”
10. “I had a guy calling just to argue that his crystal meth is legal because he made it with store-brought products with his own hard-earned money.”
11. “I’m not an operator, but 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 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.’
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.”
12. “‘How far down is it snowing?’ ‘All the way to the ground, now get the f— off my emergency line!'”
13. “Had a guy in my southern California beach city call saying there was a bear in his backyard. It was an opossum. Not even that big. Regular sized, rat-looking opossum.”
14. “Had a woman call 911 because she saw someone driving down the road with his foot out of the window. She was following him the whole time, and admitted he had his seatbelt on, wasn’t texting or speeding, he just had his foot out of the window.
She wanted the police to pull him over, to which I had to explain he wasn’t breaking any laws.
She couldn’t comprehend that driving with your foot out the window is not illegal, and proceeded to hang up on me, then call 911 again because apparently I didn’t know the law and she NEEDED someone to stop this man. We connected her to a deputy who told her if she didn’t stop calling 911 for stupid reasons he was going to ticket her for abuse of emergency communications.”
15. “We had an old woman call in and say there was two guys dress in blue trying to break into her house. So we send about 6 cops over. It turns out it was the gas company reading her gas meter.”
16. “6:30 Christmas morning. 911 goes off. ‘911. What’s your emergency?’
Breathless, panicky voice: ‘How do I get the cranberry sauce out of the can without it coming out in chunks?’
‘Open the other end and slide it out on a plate.’
‘OH! THANK YOU! You are brilliant!’
I wasn’t considered so brilliant once I had to dispatch an officer over there to educate her on proper 911 usage. Merry Christmas, here’s your citation.”
17. “Guy called because neighbors were using their own BBQ in their own backyard and the smoke was coming into his kitchen window. He did not think he should have to close his window. He did not talk to his neighbor before contacting police.”
18. “Elderly caller: ‘I need the police, there is a wild rabbit in my garden eating my garden vegetables.’ (I did not send anyone).
Also during some snowy weather residents were encouraged not to drive unless they had to. We’re talking 4-5 inches of snow, nothing terrible. A woman called and said she had a green Toyota and wondered if it would be okay to drive. No… only blue Toyota’s and white Honda’s today!”
19. “Entitled rich brat demanding an officer drive her back home because she spent her travel money partying. She felt since her father was a well-known surgeon, and a ‘higher taxpayer’ she should get a break and get a ride. I told her no and hung up on her.”
20. “I answer the line into the ER in a small town. One time I got, ‘I live in a city an hour away. and we’re coming up there in two weeks and I know there’s a wildfire (50 miles away), is it safe for my health? Can a nurse tell me if it’s safe?’
I know people’s health is sensitive sometimes but that wasn’t the case with this person. They honestly thought some blown in smoke would cause health problems they had no history of (not someone with asthma or anything). They also thought we could predict the future apparently.”
21. “Woman called to complain that her McDonald’s triple thick milkshake wasn’t thick.”
22. “I’m not a dispatcher, but back in my EMS days I was dispatched on a call of a child being poisoned. Upon our arrival we find a 14-year-old male and his mother. The mother was insisting we take him to the hospital so he could have his stomach pumped because he had swallowed chewing gum.
One year later, same address, same family, called for poisoning. Upon arrival we find the same kid and mother. The mother wanted him to be taken to the hospital because the kid had admitted that he had taken a hit of marijuana when he was visiting friends the week before.”
23. “Woman calls, terrified, whispering into the phone. Says she’s locked in a closet with her kids. I’m thinking a home invasion robbery, and as soon as I get her address, I slam the call in and get ready to start updating quickly. ‘Why was she huddled in her closet, terrified and on the verge of tears,’ you ask? This woman saw a mouse in her house and was terrified and didn’t know what to do because her husband wasn’t home, so she wanted an officer to come out and take care of the mouse for her. An officer went out and did.”
24. “A caller dialed 911 at 4:00 on a Saturday morning and asked: ‘Where is the best place to get a bacon sandwich right now?'”
25. “Guy called because there was ‘an aggressive squirrel next to his car’ and he couldn’t get in. Squirrel left before police got there.”
26. “Want to know the score of the Patriots game? Call 911, apparently.”
27. “I’ve had callers who missed their alarms and were going to be late for a flight so they wanted officers to take them to the airport.”
28. “Not an operator, but a former 911 EMT. The most ridiculous call I ever responded to was a parent that cut his kid’s fingernails too short. No blood or wounds or anything like that, but the kid was crying.”
29. “Lady calls about an injured animal off to the side of the road in a neighborhood with some of the highest crime in the area. Cops are busy with people getting shot and stuff. She is yelling at me that I’m cold-hearted because I haven’t dispatched police, lights and sirens, and that this creature is suffering, and I’m responsible for it, etc. I ask what type of animal it is. ‘I don’t believe any animal species is more important than any other.’ ‘Ma’m, What. Is. It.’ ‘It’s a possum.'”
Stories have been edited from Reddit for length and clarity.