"I worked for a dispatch center near Kansas City.
On the first night of the call-taking portion of my training, I was listening along as my trainer handled all the calls. It was a steady night of calls. All normal stuff for our area; stuff like domestic disturbances, traffic complaints, accidents, lost dogs.
But then this old man calls. The first thing he says is 'this is a suicide' and provided his address, stated his house was 'all locked up', and we could 'find him' outside in his backyard. The old man's tone, while he was talking, seemed like someone who was tired and hopeless, but above all else, he was certain and at peace with his decision. Then you heard a loud bang, followed by the sound of items falling and hitting the ground (all this occurred within 30 seconds).
My trainer did his best to interrupt the man, connect with him, and talk with him until we could get police on the scene, but it didn't work.
So sadly, we spent the next couple minutes listening to the old man gurgle, choke, and struggle to breathe as the phone line was still open. The police showed up, secured the scene, picked up the phone and ended the call. It was something I will never forget."
"Back when I was a 911 dispatcher, I had a phone call in regards to a four-year-old who climbed on her dad's Harley.
The Harley motorcycle tipped over and the end of the clutch lever entered her eye and went four inches into her head. Her mom was the one on the phone.
I got EMS and rescue dispatched and they were two minutes out when she said: 'They're going to lift the bike off her.' I screamed: 'NO! Stop them!' She screamed and they stopped before lifting it.
After ten minutes on-scene, EMS went en route to the trauma center. I met the girl (now a 19-year-old) years later and she had no brain damage and had a normal eye and vision. She said the doctor said that lifting the bike off her would have caused uncontrolled brain hemorrhage and loss of the eye."
"My mom was a 911 dispatcher in the early '90s (I was 5 years old-ish) in Washington State. When I got older, I remember asking her about some of her first calls that she could remember.
One, in particular, was pretty bad. She was working on Halloween night and around 10 or 11 pm. she had a call come in that a couple guys were driving around town with a dummy or something dragging behind their truck. The dummy was falling apart and pieces of clothing/plastic were being torn off and scattered around the city. Being Halloween, it seemed like a prank but she had a patrol car trying to find and stop the truck.
As time goes by, more and more people started to call in about it. Eventually, the patrol car caught up with the truck and it turns out that it was a person. The guys had gone to a store earlier and when they left, they had backed their truck into an elderly man. The elderly man's clothes got caught in the rear bumper or whatnot. The two guys never even knew that they were dragging around another human being all across town, for miles. The elderly man had passed away and those pieces of clothing scattered around town was his clothing, flesh, and body parts. Still gives me chills."
"I used to be a 911 operator.
At our department, we had call takers, and then fire and police dispatchers. My first night off of training, I was working dispatch. So, my first 'call' was actually a dispatch. I ended up having to dispatch a murder. The worst part was that it was a dad who murdered his son.
The dad had called us and told us he shot his son. He was yelling at our call taker to 'not let his son die'. They lived in a really rural area, so our sheriff's department was trying to get there as quickly as they could. The worst part was that the ambulances got there quick, and the dad could hear them, but we couldn't release them to the scene due to there being a weapon on the scene and the police not being there yet. Even after the police arrived, it took awhile for them to clear the scene and secure the weapon. Although, it didn't matter. The dad had shot his son at point blank range in the stomach. The kid was dead within seconds. When the police arrived, the family dog was licking at the intestines.
Some backstory-the dad was in his 50's and the son was in his 20's. The mom, dad, and son all lived together in a beautiful house on the lake. The son had a history of addiction problems and was actually being investigated at the time of his death for possibly being responsible for burning his parents' house down. Therefore, at the time of the shooting, the three of them and their dog were living in the mom and dad's luxury Prévost motorhome. The three of them had a history of domestic issues, and all were into drinking.
Well, during the night in question, they were all pretty out of it, and the dad and the son got into a physical altercation. The son proceeded to beat the crap out of the dad. So, the dad went inside the motorhome and got his weapon and went outside to confront the son. When he did, he ended up shooting him.
If I'm not mistaken, the son was found guilty in post-mortem of arson, and the dad was found guilty of manslaughter. I never really kept up with cases after we handled them. It was too easy to get distracted from our day to day job."
"The first call I took was from a blind elderly male.
The man called because he had found his son on the floor of a bedroom. He was not responding so I had him tilt his head back and listen for a breath - nothing. He said he was warm and he had talked with him less than twenty minutes prior. So I guided him through CPR compressions only, because of the circumstances.
He lived in a rural part of our county and we were low on rigs so we did this for about twelve minutes before help arrived on scene. EMS goes inside and immediately ask for the Police Department. This isn't unusual, sometimes loved ones can't or don't want to believe that it's too late so we go through the motions until a trained eye is there. Once the police get there, they ask for a detective. This is also not unusual for younger deaths.
Two hours later and still there it peaks my curiosity. I called the first officer that arrived and found out that the poor man had been doing CPR on his now mostly headless son. He had been taking a nap and his son committed suicide with a weapon. It woke him up but not quick enough for it to register as a lethal wound from the weapon.
When I had asked him to tilt his head back he did so by using his chin which was still there. I think it worked out for the best because he had support there when he learned the truth and it didn't make my job any tougher. However, this tragedy definitely made for an unusual start to my dispatch career."
"An 18-year-old called in hysterics and asked for an ambulance because his mom was shot. We, of course, dispatched immediately but they were in the middle of nowhere and the closest ambulance was 30+ minutes away.
As the call continued we got him to tell us what happened. He had pulled out his weapon to clean it before going hunting the next day. It was an older style bolt action with no safety and an extremely light trigger pull. He had just pulled it out of the case and accidentally hit the bolt on the side of the table which caused the weapon to fire. The bullet hit the mom in the stomach while standing less than 30 feet away.
The father and son were both attempting to stop the bleeding and the son immediately called 911. At first, you could faintly hear the mom in the background saying: 'It's ok! You didn't mean it, baby. It's ok. I love you both.' She just repeated this over and over, the father was praying quietly, and the son was sobbing and giving us all the information as we tried to assist.
The sounds of that call will always haunt me. The son just shouted over and over near the end: 'Momma? Gosh. Momma. I'm so sorry, Momma! Don't die, Momma! Momma! Please!' The mom made it nowhere close to the ambulance arrival.
The dispatchers were cool and collected and worked like an amazingly well-oiled machine during the whole call. When the call was over we all just sat there in silence.
Dispatchers are the unsung heroes. The emotional and mental toll that it takes on people that do the job and do it well is crazy."
"I was a 911 dispatcher in my very small hometown. My first night on my own (without guidance from my supervisor), I had a call that there was a bad accident slightly out of my jurisdiction. A group of young men were involved, including several of my childhood friends (I was recently graduated from high school). I knew there had been a fatality, but I didn't know who it was, and my own speculations were quite scary as I waited to hear.
My job was to contact the family of one of the boys in the accident and to tell them which hospital he was taken to. I knew the kid and I had to tell his mom he was in a serious accident, but I couldn't identify myself. Then she called me back when she got to the hospital, that they couldn't find her son. We went back and forth several times as I tried to figure out where the disconnect of information was. Eventually, I found out they couldn't find him because he was in the morgue - he was the one who died. I felt like an idiot for telling his mom to go to the hospital, but those were my instructions, and it was the best information I had at the time.
I later made the mistake of talking to EMS who were on scene for that wreck and asking for details. My friend had been entrapped while the driver was able to get out. Flames began to spread in the car, but they couldn't get my friend out. EMTs pulled on his arm, trying anything to get him out, but it was so hot that his flesh just came off. And he died screaming, alive and burning to death. Probably the worst way to go and my colleagues had to stand there watching it all happen. Those images have burned themselves into my mind permanently.
I went to my friend's funeral and couldn't say a word about what I knew about the accident. People saying things like: 'He went peacefully - it was on impact.' Well, that wasn't true at all, but it was a nice sentiment to spread, and I would never correct it. I think I was probably the only person there who knew what really happened, and that was both comforting and very difficult to manage.
I was haunted for a while. I didn't do anything wrong, but someone I knew and cared about died in a horrific way, and I couldn't share those details with anyone who knew him. My family and friends pumped me for information (small town), and I shared as little as possible, which was the right thing to do in all ways, but it was still hard not to be able to talk about it. I did tell myself that I would never have a call worse than that, and in six years of dispatching, it was true - my first night was my worst."
"There was a young boy, who was about 3-years-old, trapped in his parent's trailer that was on fire. We knew he was in there, the grandmother had gotten all the kids out but that one. She thought maybe he went and hid or something.
The fire department did everything they could, even at great personal risk, but in the end, the child had died of smoke inhalation.
It was a painful 1-2 hours as they fought the fire and tried to save him, though after the first half hour we were pretty sure he couldn't have survived. My son was about the same age as that boy and it hit me hard, I probably should have gotten grief counseling or something but they didn't do that for dispatchers at the time."
"The first call I had was a suicide threat. It was a call from a young guy, mid 20's, wife, couple kids and in the navy.
The guy had serious depression and had suicidal thoughts, but didn't want to kill himself, just wanted help (hence calling us). I had to sit on the phone with this guy for about 45 minutes to an hour, while we tried to free up an officer to head over that way. Sadly this was an insane day with multiple car accidents with overturned vehicles, at least one shooting and seriously heated calls all over the surrounding areas.
I wanted to cry after that call, the guy seemed like a decent person. He moved down to Mississippi from the Northeast, for the navy. He met and married a girl and then had 2 kids. He had some minor issues mentally, but it sounded like she just browbeat him. She threw his antidepressants down the drain, saying he abuses them and shouldn't take them (I actually heard her yelling that), he wasn't going to see HER kids anymore after this and called him a variety of names. The dude was just sitting on the steps outside her parent's house, crying while she yelled at him. He even left his friends behind when he moved, no siblings, both parents died less than a year prior. It just went on and on.
We try to stay positive and keep talking to people to distract them from negative thoughts, but I couldn't think of a single good reason for him to live other than 'don't kill yourself cause it's bad.'
It's been over two years and I still wonder what happened to him. I was afraid he'd be discharged from the navy for being admitted, but never found anyone who could give me a straight answer about it. I hope he's still out there, and I hope things are better for him."
"I had a woman call in who was hiding in her closet and told me her ex-boyfriend was breaking into her house. She told me that they had a violent history.
I got her information and told her to do what she needed to do to stay safe and leave the line open no matter what. While officers were enroute I heard him come in through a window and start beating her. He heard sirens coming and took off. Luckily, since she left the line open I was able to let the officers know when he took off and they caught him near the apartment.
I think the worst part was the two minutes after he left, I sat there listening to the woman weeping and not being able to comfort her because she was too far away to hear me."
"I'm a video relay interpreter for the deaf.
I was told by a mentor not to worry about getting a 911 call because they're rarely ever real emergencies. Well, my first one was an actual emergency and involved someone who had stopped breathing.
I could see the deaf caller on my computer screen but their camera was shaking violently because someone was doing CPR right off the screen and were bumping into the camera.
I've seen worse since then but for my first 911 call, it really stuck with me. Just that I knew something was happening off screen but I couldn't really see it, I guess."
"I work for a large county sheriff's office in Central Florida. My first was a forcible kidnapping. The kidnapping had started in my hometown, in the next county over, at a well known local large retailer. It consisted of a male suspect who forced the female driver into her own car with a weapon and forced her to drive to my county's jurisdiction when he stopped for gas and allowed her to use the restroom where she called us.
I had her on the phone for half an hour while she pretended to be using the facilities while patrol and tactical units surrounded the gas station and eventually arrested the suspect without incident; numerous felony and forcible felony charges for kidnapping, false imprisonment, carjacking, aggravated assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and quite a few others.
She was so thankful I got a message from the lieutenant who had worked the incident, saying she was so thankful for us she broke down when she came out to him in the back of a squad car. That's the reason I love what I do, unconditionally."
"My first literal call was just a burglary report. Just had to ask the following: what address, when, what weapons were taken? Name, phone done.
The first call that I actually did something on? It was a 14-year-old girl crying hysterically because some random guy just came up to her brother's door and knocked saying he lived there. When he got angry about being told he didn't, he pulled out a weapon and pointed it at them, then ran away (he was on something for sure).
The brother, for some reason I will never fathom, followed the guy two blocks and the sister called when she heard powerful noises. Luckily, the brother came back unharmed, I pumped him for information and our police department caught the guy."
"My first call was a little odd. It was a gentleman who didn't have any money.
It was my first night, which happened to be a midnight shift on the night of the 31st. You can see the welfare recipients lined up to the ATM across the street, down the block, and around the corner. They actually had to add 100's to this machine to prevent it from running out of money.
Anyways, around 1 am, I get my first 911 call. It's a gentleman who keeps claiming, 'He ain't got no money.' It also sounded like he might have had a speech impediment.
So for the first 30 seconds or so, I begin to think it's either my partner or the cop that was on duty screwing with me. I'm trying to explain to the caller, 911 is for life or death emergencies but I'm getting the same, 'I ain't got no money, I'll die if I don't got no money.'
Finally, the on-duty cop walks into the room, and I realize this is a guy that actually needs help. So I find out where he is, what his name is and send the cop down there to see what he can do.
Turns out the guy did just have a speech impediment and was just an unintelligent jerk. He eventually got an attitude with the officer because this guy actually believed the city police has something to do with the state welfare office, and we turned his card off. He was cited for misuse of 911."
"I filled in a few times when I was in the military. I didn't really know the system well and was always paired with a more senior guy. They basically just needed two of us back there, so I was mostly there so the other guy could hit the bathroom or take a smoke break.
Anyway, the first call comes in and the guy in with it, says: 'You take it, I'll jump in if you're screwing anything up.'
The call was about a vandalism in progress. The guy on the phone reported he was in the process of watching someone urinate on the driver's side door of a car. I started collecting the information about make, model, location, etc. Turns out, it was my car and the guy on the phone was a sergeant in my platoon. The dude thought he was just freakin' hilarious. I don't know how it all worked, but apparently, him and the other dispatcher were in cahoots and I don't think it was actually on the emergency line, although I didn't know that at the time.
They admittedly did a pretty decent job and strung me along for a few minutes before I realized it wasn't a real call. The call wasn't real, but the urine was. I wasn't mad, but I still believe actually peeing on my car wasn't necessary for the joke."