Work & Career
18 Craziest Things 911 Dispatchers Have Ever Heard on the Job
As you read these wacky stories, please keep in mind that 911 is for life-threatening emergency situations. Not because, say, you’re thirsty and you’d like someone to bring you a glass of water.
The drunk guy who wouldn’t stop calling
A former 911 operator, Ricardo Martinez II is the host and creator of the podcast “Within the Trenches—True Stories from 9-1-1 Dispatchers.” This particular story reveals how “super-human patience” is one of the unwritten job requirements for a 911 operator: “It was around two in the morning on a relatively quiet night when a man—obviously inebriated—called to demand a breathalyzer test. Apparently, he’d been kicked out of a bar, and he was outraged because he was certain he wasn’t legally drunk and wanted to prove it.” When Martinez declined, explaining to the guy this wasn’t an emergency, the man not only became verbally abusive, he also kept calling. And calling. And calling—until Martinez finally dispatched a trooper to arrest the guy for misuse of 911. Don’t miss these secrets 911 operators won’t tell you.
Sorry, but you can’t use that on a pigeon
Quora contributor Scott Pritchard is a paramedic with a long list of ridiculous calls. One really stands out: The guy who called for a paramedic after running over a pigeon in his car. He asked for paramedics to rush to the scene with a defibrillator—for the pigeon.
She clearly needed help…
Pritchard once got a call from a woman who said she couldn’t walk. Her legs were fine, she said, but she was thirsty and could someone bring her a glass of water? A week later, the same woman called—this time she needed someone to help her get dressed.
Medical professionals who should know better
Pritchard has a surprising number of outrageous stories involving medical professionals. These include:
- The nurse who wanted help popping a pimple.
- The nurse who was afraid she had poisoned herself by sniffing bleach.
- The doctor who had the flu and thought if she called, she’d get better treatment.
When people with peanut allergies should know better
The 911 dispatcher and Reddit contributor Random-Miser took a call from a woman requesting an ambulance because she’d received a package containing packing peanuts (made of styrofoam, of course), and was terrified they’d cause a deadly reaction in her peanut-sensitive child.
Sounds a bit squirrelly
Reddit contributor Mubzie‘s mom is a 911 dispatcher, and she talks about the time she got a call from a girl in gym class at the local high school. The girl was in a panic because there was a squirrel on top of a nearby telephone pole, and it wasn’t coming down. Find out the funniest 911 calls ever placed.
Those calls that start with “I swear I’m not crazy”
When a caller begins with “I swear I’m not crazy,” that’s when it’s time to “buckle up,” according to Reddit contributor Erczilla, who has been working as a 911 dispatcher for 22 years. “One guy started a call with those words after escaping from his apartment; he insisted his roommates had turned into giant crabs.” The dispatcher did send help—for the guy since it turned out he was on a bad drug trip.
Check out these other hilarious true stories.
Expect the unexpected
Another Reddit contributor, Anoncop1, is a police officer who went on a call to the home of a man who had stabbed himself in the gut with two different pens. While waiting for the pens to be removed, the man was “happy as can be,” Anoncop1 recalls:
“Can I tell you a secret?” the man said to Anoncop1.
“Sure,” Anoncop1 replied.
“I want to push the pens in further.”
“Please don’t do that,” Anoncop1 said calmly.
“I already did,” the man replied.
You say harassment, I say arrested…
I had a drunk person call to report he was being harassed at a pizzeria,” recalls Reddit contributor, Tkokilroy. As it turned out the cops were already on site, and the man wasn’t being harassed, he was being arrested for throwing pizza at people. “I still laugh about it to this day,” Tkokilroy adds.
When Jeopardy was in jeopardy
“My mom is a 911 operator, she gets some insanely stupid calls,” notes Reddit contributor, Ddeevv. “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.” She wanted to make it home in time for Jeopardy.
The case of the missing microwave
A guy living in a rooming house called 911 one night because the microwave that was usually in the kitchen wasn’t there, reports Reddit contributor and prosecutor Shaydu. The dispatcher explained to the guy this wasn’t an emergency. The guy argued, “But I’m really hungry!” He wouldn’t hang up, at least until the police arrived and arrested him for improper 911 usage. Shaydu later brought the case to trial, and the jury issued a guilty verdict in 20 minutes flat.
Maybe just post a selfie instead?
A woman called 911 to complain about a mugshot of her that was on the Internet, reports Reddit contributor NinjaHDD. Apparently, she thought it was unflattering and wanted a new one. She got it right after police officers were dispatched to her home to charge her for 911 misuse. Find out the reason we call 911 during an emergency.
No arrest was made, but maybe one should have been?
Former 911 responder Bloomsday289 recalls the most outrageous call he got: A parent claiming he’d cut his child’s fingernails too short and needed an ambulance. After the paramedics arrived and found that the child had no wounds, it soon emerged that the kid just wanted to see an ambulance up close. “I’ve had a lot of people scamming the system… But this was the most ridiculous.”
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break…
Reddit contributor Benevolentbearattack worked at a Level 1 trauma center: “We got a call for a major collision involving two patients, both rather seriously injured.” Two ambulances were sent out, and the first one arrived back at the trauma center quickly. But the second one was delayed for half an hour. Why? The patient spent most of that time arguing with the paramedics that he wanted one last cigarette before he got driven to the hospital. Here’s a call that forever changed this EMT’s entire life.
An emergency brisket?
With 15 years on the job as a 911 operator, Stepside79 still remembers the time someone called 911 to ask how long to smoke a brisket.
That time a caller literally had the blues
A woman called 911 at around 2 a.m., reports paramedic and Reddit contributor, Buzkilll, because her legs had turned blue. Upon further questioning, the paramedics discovered she had worn a new pair of blue jeans to the club where she had spent the night vigorously dancing. Here’s how to save your own life in 12 different kinds of (actual) emergencies.
When a 911 call is innocent but totally pointless
Reddit contributor Cold_toast_n_butter tells the story of a friend who called 911 when he was a kid because his aunt was having a baby. The only issue is that his aunt was already at the hospital—the kid just wanted to cover all the bases.
Justifiable, but a little embarrassing…
Reddit contributor MorroWtje, who works in the EMS field, once got a call from a woman who wanted an ambulance to take her to the hospital because she had such extreme diarrhea that she couldn’t drive herself and didn’t dare take a cab. Her call was justified, though it did make MorroWtje giggle. Next, find out the 60 secrets emergency room staff won’t tell you.