In my humble opinion, working as a 911 operator would be depressing and scary.
And I also don’t think I have the emotional makeup to work that hard job.
That’s why we should tip our hats to these folks!
What’s the most disturbing call you ever received?
911 operators on AskReddit shared their stories.
“S**cide calls where the caller has no interest in seeking help but just wanting the police to find them before their family does.
Knowing you’re likely the last person to speak to someone and there’s nothing you can do to help is pretty rough.”
2. Can’t imagine.
“Got a 911 call with just screaming. Nothing intelligible, just the loudest screaming you’ve ever heard. I started officers to the house.
Then a kid started yelling that her uncle was trying to k**l her, her sister, and her grandmother. She started screaming again, there was a thud, and then no more sound.
Officers got there and a man walked out into the driveway and said, “I did it. I k**led them.”
He was mentally ill and lived with his mother. She had been trying to get him committed, with doctors saying he wasn’t a danger to himself or others. His 9 year old twin nieces were visiting from out of state.
He snapped that morning. Bludgeoned them all with blunt objects, including a large vase. His mom and one niece d**d. One twin survived with extensive injuries. It was a horrifying call.”
“This past Mother’s Day, I had a teenage boy calling because he found his mother overdosed and d**d.
The sobbing as he called out “mom! Mom!” still makes me tear up.”
“Family member worked as police dispatcher. Received a call from an elderly woman. Her husband had just been k**led in their garage by an intruder.
She heard it happening. She’s wheelchair bound but phone was next to her. She frantically begged my family member to help her. While he was on the phone with her the criminal cut her throat. My family member stayed on the line three more minutes until cops got there.
He could hear the sounds of the attack, her gasping and gurgling noises. He kept telling her help was coming and to hold on. Amazingly, she survived. Criminal was later caught. A 17 year old who just wanted the thrill of k**ling someone and picked them at random.
He’s on D**th Row now.”
“Lady calls in, she stopped to visit elderly couple she knew because she had not heard from them.
The elderly man had dementia.
Apparently his wife d**d in her sleep days before and he didn’t realize and had been getting in bed with her nightly.”
“Mother of 4 called in saying the trailer was on fire and her bedroom door was locked from the outside.
I could hear her kids screaming and coughing in the background. I asked her if she could open a window, but they were nailed shut for some reason. Then we had her shove blankets under the door to stop the smoke from coming in before the fire department gets out there.
After about 5 min the coughing d**s down and she stops responding to me. Nothing at all. Then the fire department comes over the line saying the homeowner came out and that no one else was inside so we could slow the ambulance. We kept telling them we’re on the phone with people inside but they assured us there was not.
Eventually they pulled the people out, mother and 2 of the kids d**d. The man who came out was letting this family stay with him and he torched it and left them in there.”
“A woman called on her husband while they were fighting, she was screaming saying he was in the room and had a g** and wasn’t sure if he was going to shoot her or himself.
Seconds later I hear a g** shot and blood curdling screaming. I asked who had been shot and she said he shots himself in the head.
Impossible to get that 1 minute of chaos out of my head and it was months ago.”
“It was my second week, and I was plugged in with another dispatcher who was handling calls, and I was working the computer and stuff as part of my training.
We got a call from a guy in a car, who said that he was in a near accident with another driver, and the other driver was following him and being aggressive.
The dispatcher told him to turn around, and look for a well lit, busy place, like a gas station to stop, and we would have someone on the way to meet him there.
He was s**t 5 times while on the phone with us, waiting for the officer to arrive.
I found out the next day on the news that the guy flew in from out of town to walk his daughter down the aisle.”
“At the beginning of my shift, I got a call from a man whose dad had gone missing from his care facility.
He had dementia and his dad thought he might be looking for a bar to get a drink. I took his info and got a description, and put out a BOLO for him.
For these calls, we normally don’t find out the outcome. In this case, one of my last calls that same night, was a person calling who found a body on some train tracks, and it turned out to be the same guy I had put out the BOLO for.
I had to call the deputy who went and took the guy’s statement and tell him the news, and he then had to go tell the guy’s son. That was a sh**ty end to the night.”
“Sometimes the calls that stick with you aren’t the most physically traumatic.
I once had a call from a 17 year old kid who came home from a sleepover to find that his mother had moved. Just packed up his sister and everything in the house and left while he was gone with no forwarding address or information. She also turned off his cell phone that morning so literally the only number he could call was 911.
He was trying so hard not to cry and his voice was shaking as he kept apologizing to me for calling 911. He just didn’t know what else to do and had no other family.
She also took everything so all he had was a couple of things that he had taken to the friends house. He told me his 18th birthday was in a couple of weeks and he literally had nothing.
The officers that responded took him to a shelter. I think about him often and I hope he’s ok. Even if he was a kid who got in trouble or had behavioral issues, I can’t imagine coming home to find your mother has abandoned you.”
“We got a call from an 8 year old who said his big brother was in the bathroom and hadn’t been out for an hour and there was no sound.
He broke the door open somehow while he was on the phone with us, and his brother was d**d from s**cide (hanging). This was small town and a year prior that same older brother had called in when the mom had committed s**cide herself on pills.
Hearing that kid cry will always haunt me. I decided not to become a 911 operator.”
“A call from a male who stated he’d found his girlfriend’s son unresponsive. Very frantic caller. He and the mother passed the phone back and forth multiple times while I tried to give various rescue instructions.
That part wasn’t all that abnormal, but they later took the male into custody and I found out the initial caller had strangled the kid and then freaked out and called.
Still makes me mad and it’s been years.”
13. Good lord.
“An elderly man had a complete psychotic break and k**led his wife with a hammer. Afterward he calmly called 911 and confessed.
The dispatcher attempted to give rescue instructions, up until he realized the damage was extensive enough that her head was mostly gone.
Several of the first officers on scene were violently ill because of how bloody the house was.”
“Apartment fire, woman burned alive on her balcony because she was too afraid to jump. The screams over the radio of the fire crews trying to rescue her.
20 mins later we get a call for a young man that walked in front of a dump truck on a highway to take his own life.
While crews were responding to that, a 10 year old girl who hung herself was found by her mother.
I was still quite new the day all this happened but I will never forget what I heard that day.”
“Man wrecked an 18 wheeler and was pinned between the seat and dash.
He called me, I sent the trucks out, he knew he was gonna d**… he asked me to pray with him.. I’m not religious, but I prayed with him.
He got more and more quiet, I tried to keep him alert and talking,passed out before crews got there, I heard the medics arrive on the phone.
D**d on arrival. I can’t remember the man’s name, but I know he really loved his kids.”
16. Nothing you could do.
“I think the worst we had was a s**cidal girl calling in and saying she was going to jump off a parking garage, not wanting to talk no answering questions just says that and hangs up.
Sure enough she took her shoes off and left her phone and took a dive off the top floor. It was very sad.”
“Every call where someone is reporting an unresponsive relative. Some will let you walk them through the CPR process if they don’t know it, some won’t.
Every one of them you hear the caller at some point pleading with the patient to not leave them. Most times they do though.
Parents, spouses, children, I’ve had them all call. Never gets easier.”
18. Won’t forget it.
“My first medical call was a woman who found her young grandson had hung himself. I don’t remember a lot of details, but I remember her cries still.
I remember the quiet somber “I’m sorry” that someone told me right before he put the phone down and s**t himself after trying for an hour to convince him to give himself up and step outside to talk to waiting police.
I still remember a scream as a woman who called in to say she was throwing herself from her third story window was yanked out of the window by a police officer that snuck in while I distracted her.
I remember the quiet “off” insistence of a man as he kept getting my CPR instructions wrong while I tried to help him with his step-son who wasn’t breathing. He was charged with homicide later, and used the CPR as a cover for the child’s injuries.
I loved my job, but in some ways I’m glad I left it. Almost ten years later some things still stick around.”
19. Very scary.
“This was 10+ years ago, but one night I had a call from a woman who jumped out of a moving vehicle to escape a s** a**ault (suspect was an ex-boyfriend who had done it in the past).
Luckily she was still able to run, but she was definitely injured and had no idea where she was – and this was when a cell phone’s “location” was just the closest cell tower.
She was (understandably) hysterical and I spent the first few minutes trying to get her calm and quiet enough to avoid detection. She found one of those big green electrical boxes to hide behind for a few minutes while the suspect drove back and forth looking for her.
Once she couldn’t see the headlights anymore, she was able to coherently speak to me and we determined she was in an office park. There were building numbers, but she wasn’t near a street sign, so that wasn’t very helpful. I told her to check the nearest mailbox and to read me the address on any mail that she could find.
It took her a minute or two of running behind buildings to locate a mailbox, but when she did we were able to pinpoint her location. Half of the deputies in my county responded, and the happy ending to the story is that the suspect was still in the office park and when he tried to flee on foot, “Chewy” caught up to him and made the arrest. Oh, Chewy was a 120-pound German Shepherd who served a long and distinguished career at my agency.
This wasn’t a call that necessarily keeps me up and night, but it was the scariest “in the moment” call I ever took.”
20. Still upset.
“I get a call one night of a woman crying.
Not abnormal, people don’t tend to call 911 on good days. She’s crying but trying to hold it together. Her son fell in the bathroom and isn’t responding to her. She can crack open the door a little bit but can’t open it because he has fallen against the door and the bathroom is small. She can see in, a little bit.
Her grown up son is living with her. He went into the bathroom to do some drugs. I don’t know what kind but it was the kind you inject with a needle. We know this because she can see the needle hanging from his arm. I asked if this had ever happened before, she said yes. She gave me his age (mid 20’s) and her address and some other things I needed.
While I’m talking to her, I can hear in every word this woman speaks the tremendous love and fear of a mother for her child. Her son is DYING, or is d**d, and she knows it but she can’t do anything but stay as calm as possible to answer my questions. She was holding on, but I could hear it in her voice. He was in his 20’s but it was her BABY dying on that floor and she couldn’t do a thing about it.
That was about eight years ago. I still feel upset when I think about that call even now.
Rescue got there and he did live, but that doesn’t change how I remember feeling. That poor mother.”
“Not my call, one from a training session we had going.
An elderly gentleman had called 999 as he was feeling faint, tight chest and struggling to breathe. He wasn’t in the house on his own, his son was downstairs but he wanted to call in private due to his son being a worrier.
He collapsed mid call, the operator frantically dispatched somebody to go round and help, however, in the process of this, the sounds that man was making were horrific. Almost like a squeal, then turning into a grunting, high pitched groan. I genuinely can’t explain it.
He sadly passed away by the time the crew had arrived down to a massive heart attack. His son didn’t even know what was happening until the police and paramedics turned up. Safe to say the son was devastated and hearing him scream was just as bad.
His son sadly k**led himself a month later.”
“My dad’s long time gf was an 911 operator. She was an absolute angel on earth, but she had the most heartbreaking stories.
Worst I can think of was an older woman who called 911 because her husband had locked himself in their bedroom and refused to come out, despite her begging and pleading.
The lady exclaimed “he’s in there and he has a g**, please hurry!” While the operator was trying to keep her calm and talk her down, she heard the unmistakable pop of a gun.
I can’t imagine the wailing on the other end of the phone after that poor lady had to listen to her husband committing s**cide through the door.”
“I was a 911 operator.
When I asked for the address, I got an angry man yelling, “Just get the f**kin’ ambulance here!”
When I asked what happened, the caller said “You don’t need to f**kin’ know that!”
“I just need to know what happened so I know who to send and what equipment to bring, sir.”
“Just send a godd**n ambulance, my kid’s having a seizure! Don’t send any f**kin’ police.”
“Don’t send police” coming from a caller is basically them telling on themselves. Please send police, because the patient or the EMS crew or both could be in danger.
So I passed a note to my partner, who was dispatching: “Send PD. Extremely uncooperative caller.”
I tried my best to get through the rest of the questions (how old is the kid, are they conscious, are they breathing, has the seizing stopped, etc.). I got nothing but verbal a**se.
All I knew is that a pediatric patient had a seizure when the call started, there was yelling in the background, and there was some terrible yelling in the foreground.
“PUT YOUR HANDS UP”
“HEY WHAT THE F**K?”
And that was it. Police had the caller.
The patient ended up being a toddler, who had been beaten to within an inch of their life by that a**hole. That was terrifying and sad and I hugged my own kid a little tighter that night.”
Have you ever received a disturbing phone call?
If so, tell us about it in the comments!
Thanks a lot!