Apparently, some people have drastically different ideas of what constitutes an emergency!
All posts have been edited for clarity.
“I received a call on the non-emergency line from a ninety-something-year-old lady asking me what lamp she should put in her bedroom.
I told her I did not understand and that the sheriff’s office was not the correct place to ask.
Eventually, she got upset and said, ‘Fine I’ll call 911, they’ll help me there!’
I tried to tell her that 911 would just go back to me and it was a misuse of an emergency line, but it was too late.
Fifteen seconds later 911 rings, I answered, and lo and behold it was the lady who asked, ‘What lamp should I get for my bedroom?'”
“A person in a suburban neighborhood called to report a group of youths on bikes and skateboards and said they were ‘up to no good.’ When asked what they were doing that constituted a crime or was dangerous, the caller admitted that they hadn’t seen anything as such. But they just knew that these kids were up to no good. We didn’t even dispatch anyone for that.
During a very busy few minutes, some idiot with a scanner decided to call 911 and tell me that one of the local EMS agency’s radio channels had an open mic. Basically, that refers to when a radio is accidentally activated and transmitting, potentially picking up any sounds or conversation nearby, usually for an extended period of time. Since we did 911 call-taking and dispatch, I was actively listening to said radio channel as this person called. There was no open mic.
On a fairly regular basis, people would call 911 because someone wouldn’t return property that they had loaned. This is one hundred percent, not a police issue. As soon as I learn that the property was loaned willingly, it makes it a civil, or non-criminal, issue.
On the other hand, this one initially seemed petty but actually wasn’t. A guy called and I had a difficult time understanding exactly what he was saying. He was definitely talking about something coming out of his toilet, so I thought he was calling about a plumbing issue. Unfortunately, this is not unheard of, though it is certainly not a good reason to call 911. After listening a bit more, I realized that he was reporting demons coming out of his toilet. He was genuinely and very distressed by this and I didn’t suspect that it was a joke or prank. Unfortunately, there was no one I could send right away, so I decided to try to help. I told him to put the toilet lid down. He took my advice and what would you know, the demons stopped coming out. He was very appreciative. We still sent someone once they were available, only a few minutes later.”
“People who get cut off in traffic are probably the worst callers.
It usually goes like, ‘Oh so this happened three hours ago, you don’t remember the road it happened on, you don’t know the registration of the VOI, there was no traffic crash, and there is not even the insinuation that either party involved were under influence of substances?’
Noise complaints are similar.
Some people call the emergency line to complain about being arrested earlier. One once complaining about being charged for abusing the emergency line.
I’ve had a woman call emergency because their sister was refusing to share their food, at a cinema.
But what is probably more insane is the serious incidents that are started by inane and petty things. I once had a serious domestic incident between a mother and daughter where the mother stabbed the daughter after an argument over the color of cupcake batter.”
“I was a 911 operator for four years and a woman in a rich area called the cops on a man.
I said, ‘Ma’am, can you describe the person?’
She responded, ‘He’s wearing a pastel polo shirt and he’s in a truck that says optimum. He’s working on the wires but I don’t know, he just looks like he doesn’t belong here.’
I asked, ‘What’s suspicious about the person?’
The caller answered, ‘Well, he looks out of place here.’
The twist? He was employed by optimum and was fixing the cable on the caller’s own house.
She called optimum to fix her cable, then called the cops on the guy she asked for.”
“We used to have a woman who called multiple times each day to have her bandages changed. She had people who could do that for her. She would then escalate with each call until it would code on our system as a call we must attend. We knew it was nonsense, she knew it was nonsense, the crews knew it was nonsense, but we had to go just in case she was actually telling the truth.
There was a bloke who would call repeatedly and then send the paramedics away once they arrived. He would claim that he had never called them in the first place. He was verbally and physically aggressive on multiple occasions.
General practitioners are absolute nightmares too. Especially the ones who would get their patients to call for an ambulance. No. If your doctor wants an ambulance for you, they must order it themselves. They know why it’s needed and are best equipped to provide accurate medical details for the crews. I remember correcting a doctor on this and she was the nastiest piece of work I’ve ever dealt with. She huffed down the phone about how busy she was and how she didn’t have time for this. Like she thinks we have the time to put up with her nonsense. She got reported.
The number of people who would call for an ambulance for issues that they could have got a lift in for. If you’re mobile and have someone who can transport you to a hospital, please try that first as long as there are no obvious alarm bells. Oftentimes this will get you the help you require sooner. If you’re not certain, there’s always 111, who can send the request on to emergency services if they think an ambulance would be best.
The most irritating calls were from people who were quite literally around the corner from the hospital. These were usually people who actually weren’t emergency cases, and were perfectly capable of walking.”
Fast Food Karen
“A woman called 911 right as she drove into the county I worked for. She was screaming about how the Burger King employees need to be arrested because they threw a milkshake at her.
I asked clarifying questions, then asked her if she was sure it was in our county because we don’t have a Burger King in that area, but the neighboring county did.
She called me an idiot and to ‘just send the police.’
Come to find out, she ordered her food but then didn’t want it because she didn’t know what the employees looked like.
The manager threw her milkshake through her car window.
Another time, a very pregnant lady called 911 because the restaurant she ordered from got her order wrong and wouldn’t refund her. She sobbed to me about how she was pregnant and she just wanted this certain dish. She threw the order of food at the worker, who placed his own 911 call for assault.
That probably didn’t work out in her favor.”
“A caller once said, ‘Yeah, there’s a zombie girl.’
I responded, ‘I’m sorry, what’s that?’
He specified, ‘A zombie.’
I responded, ‘I don’t understand.’
He continued, ‘She’s flailing her arms and body everywhere. Can you make her go away?’
Obviously, no I couldn’t make her disappear.
Another one of my favorites was a baked kid.
He said, ‘I need help.’
I asked, ‘What’s your location?’
He said, ‘I’m at home.’
I asked, ‘Which is where?’
He repeated, ‘My house.’
I sighed and asked, ‘What’s your address?’
He said, ‘3878’
I said, ‘I need a street too.’
He gave me a street and apartment number that didn’t exist.
Fed-up, I asked, ‘What number are you calling from?’
He said, ‘My phone.’
I asked, ‘What number?’
He clarified, ‘My cell phone.’
I demanded, ‘I need the phone number.’
He finally gave me his phone number.
I asked, ‘Who am I speaking to?’
He responded, ‘Me.’
I asked, ‘What’s going on?’
He said, ‘I can’t get out of bed.’
Confused, I asked, ‘I’m sorry, what?’
He said, ‘I keep trying, but I keep passing out.’
I could hear a regular conversation going on in the background, so I knew he wasn’t passing out.
At which point, I transferred him to medics, who made him start the whole thing over again.”
“An elderly woman called 911 to complain about a suspicious person outside her house.
I asked her for her address, and she said, ‘Oh, I can’t give you that. My husband told me to never give out personal information to someone on the phone.’
I responded, ‘Ma’am, I need to know where you are so we can come to your house.’
She hesitated then said, ‘Well, I live on 29th Avenue.’
I asked, ‘Okay, what is your house number?’
She genuinely asked, ‘Can’t you just check all of 29th Avenue?’
I responded, ‘Ma’am, 29th Avenue is about two miles long.’
I finally got her address and sent an officer.
They cleared the call with ‘nothing found.'”
“I was working the early morning shift on Sunday and we had an old lady in her mid-eighties call in. She was panicking for reasons that were not clear until five minutes into the call. It turned out that her husband was on his deathbed.
I said, ‘Alright ma’am I’m going to need you to stay on the line while I arrange for an ambulance to go to your location. Would you mind telling me where you are? What’s the address?’
She responded, ‘I don’t need an ambulance.’
I said, ‘Ma’am we still need to send someone over there just as a precaution. Would you mind telling me what’s the matter with your husband?’
She responded, ‘I told you, he’s dying! Don’t you understand?’
I asked, ‘Ma’am, would you mind telling me where you are? I just want to be sure you’re okay.’
She said, ‘I’m at the hospital.’
Shocked and assuming that I misunderstood her, I asked, ‘Excuse me, ma’am? Would you mind repeating that?’
She shouted, ‘I’m at the hospital! I need you to send an officer right away! My husband is dying!’
I asked, ‘Ma’am, is there a doctor nearby that I can speak with?’
She shouted back, ‘No! I need an officer now!’
Extremely confused at this point, I asked, ‘And why’s that, ma’am?’
She repeated, ‘My husband is dying! Don’t you understand that?!’
I responded, ‘I’m afraid not ma’am, would you mind explaining what you would like an officer for?’
She exclaimed, ‘I need to file a police report!’
I asked, ‘What for, ma’am?’
She shouted, ‘I need to report a theft!’
I asked, ‘And what has been stolen, ma’am?’
She said, ‘My husband stole money from me! Yesterday, he went to the vending machine and used my credit card without my permission!’
Shocked, I asked, ‘Ma’am is this really a matter of life and death? Is this really an emergency you needed to call 911 for?’
She shouted, ‘Yes! If he dies before I fill out a police report, I’ll never get that money back!’
At this point, one of my colleagues came back from his break and read the transcript of the call I had up on my screen after I waved him over. He tried very hard not to laugh.
It’s funny but I also felt bad for the woman. She clearly needed help, but not of the emergency kind.
I held my hand over the receiver and told my colleague to call the hospital and get someone over there to calm her down before resuming the conversation:
I said, ‘Ma’am, help is on the way. Please wait with me on the line until we can get someone to you.’
I continued, ‘So ma’am, where was this vending machine located?’
She responded, ‘Down the hallway, overlooking the pond behind the hospital.’
I said, ‘The pond, huh? That’s nice. And what did your husband buy?’
She responded, ‘He said he needed to buy two bags of chips to feed to this big fish in the pond. He said that the fish had specifically asked him for the chips. I told him that was ridiculous, fish don’t talk, but he wouldn’t listen to me.’
Shocking that the call had somehow gotten stranger, I asked, ‘The fish asked him for chips? Interesting. Now, ma’am, you said he used your credit card. How much did these chips cost?’
She responded, ‘About three dollars.’
And that was the day I quit my job, walked out the door, and never ate chips again.”
“Tommy Threw It”
“Basically I was having a huge panic attack because I thought someone was breaking into the residence I was living in at the time and I couldn’t really see due to not having glasses on so I was freaking out that I wouldn’t be able to see the thing I saw outside come at me because it was the same color as the walls and she told me about people calling 911 for stupid things or little kid things from kids while the cops came.
I remember one she mentioned.
She said, ‘So I get on shift and this kid calls 911 crying. I get into immediate awareness mode because maybe someone is dying. He tells me his mommy spanked him and daddy said to call 911 if anything hurts. Of course, I ask all the right questions, do you know where you live, can you go to a neighbor’s, is your daddy home? Next thing I know I’m talking to his dad who is apologizing and saying he got spanked for dumping his spaghetti on the floor. Of course, I sent out someone to check just in case it was abuse but I could hear the kid in the background screaming about how he didn’t throw his spaghetti that Tommy threw it. I guess Tommy was his imaginary friend. It was honestly adorable if not so concerning at first. Another was this teenager, about thirteen I think called to complain his mom took his Xbox away and when she took the phone to apologize I could hear him screeching in the background like Cartman.’
It made me laugh and calmed down until the cops knocked on the door terrifying me again.”
“My co-worker took a call from someone clearly having a psychotic break. They ended up having the police come to his house for a wellness check after he gave his address, but he lived across the country.
The calls go by your area code, so because he had a local phone number it came to us.
Well, after the police went to check on him, they discovered that the person living there wasn’t in crisis at all and it was a swatting incident.
The caller was faking and pulling a prank after losing money on a video game and wanted to get revenge. Craziness. According to police, this is not the first time he’s done this. No idea what happened to him, but I couldn’t believe it when my co-worker told me the story.
Chain Link Fence
“We had this old miserable neighbor who lived behind us that had called the cops multiple times for unnecessary reasons.
It all started with his fence. He had an old chain link fence that was put up over fifty years ago with these ugly privacy strips going through them. The guy lived for this fence even though he never replaced any of the sun faded, weather cracked strips, nor has he fixed the concrete base it sat on that sunk into the ground causing the bottom of the fence to bow outward at certain spots. Every once and a while though we would see him hobbling through our yard with a broom, sweeping his fence. He brushed the grass clipping, pollen, bird dropping, or whatever else he thought needed to be cleaned from the outside of his fence.
It all started when our neighbors to the left of us wanted to put up a fence around their yard. They came and notified us just to be polite and we said go for it. So they got a permit, had some guys come to install it and they put their corner post right at the corner of their lot line, right up against the corner of the old guy’s fence.
Well, the old man threw a fit and called the cops. He said he owned a foot of land around the exterior or his fence so he could walk around it and ‘maintain it.’
Now, this may be true but the old man’s neighbor to the left of his house already had a fence that connected to his. He can’t in fact walk along the exterior of his entire fence, only the sides by his neighbors to his right, and us, his neighbors behind him.
The cop pointed it out to him and asked why he had allowed them to connect to his fence but now wouldn’t let the neighbors connect to it. He said he didn’t allow it and didn’t know why it happened.
The matter was ultimately settled by the police who told the old man to get his property surveyed and to find where his lot line ended. Until he had proof he owned a foot around his fence, they couldn’t take his word as such, and the neighbor’s fence went up. Don’t worry though, he got back at all of us by attaching a ‘no trespassing’ sign to the exterior of his fence that faced our yard. This was our visual reminder we can’t go within a foot of his fence.
Well fast forward another year and now the neighbor to our right put up a fence and wanted to connect to the other corner of the old man’s fence.
The cops come out again and the same situation unfolded. The old man threw a fit. The neighbor had a permit and said his lot line went right to where the corner post was going. The cops explain the same thing about paying to get his land surveyed and now the old man only had one side where he could walk along his fence.
Now since both our neighbors connected to his fence, we also wanted to enclose our yard. Because of the concrete slab under his chain-link fence, the neighbors couldn’t put their corner posts directly next to the old man’s, so there were small gaps in each corner of our yard. Since we had three dogs we wanted to make sure they couldn’t escape through the gap, so we put up a fence post in both corners to make the gap even smaller and prevent the dogs from squeezing through.
Well, the cops showed up again. The neighbor claimed we put up fence posts on his land. We explained our side of the story. They told him he needed his land surveyed. He demanded we do it. The cops said they couldn’t do anything further.
A few months later the cement slab under his fence had really started sinking into the ground and has caused the bottom of his fence to start bowing out even more. He claimed we were vandalizing his fence. The cops came out, the same argument took place, and the same solution was recommended.
A couple of months later our landscaper cut the grass and some of the clippings went through his fence and onto his lawn. The cops showed up, we had an argument over the land, they recommended the same solution.
One day, he was trying to spy through the fence, unaware our dogs were in the yard and they all reacted by barking and jumping toward him at the fence. The Cops showed up, there was an argument, they told him to get a survey of the land.
My little brother kicked a soccer ball over the fence accidentally. The cops showed up and you know how that went.
We get an above-ground pool in our yard. The cops showed up.
So there you have it. It’s been an ongoing battle, albeit a one-sided battle between us and our neighbor behind us for many years. There are even more instances of times he’s called the cops but the ones I’ve mentioned have been the most memorable to date.
We are currently in the process of getting some sort of restraining order against him so we don’t have to keep having our day interrupted by the police every so often.”
“I had someone call and report that he had been sideswiped in traffic and was following the other driver to confront them.
Ten minutes into the call it became clear that the guy was a rideshare driver and his poor fare was still in the back seat, terrified.
I finally got him to pull over and the other driver approached them with a weapon just as the police arrived.
I cringe to think what would have happened if he hadn’t pulled over.”
“She Thought That Was Disgusting”
“A teen called saying someone was in a store parking lot selling illicit substances and he had bought some for ‘evidence.’
A lady called because someone ‘broke into her car’ and left a Mr. Goodbar wrapper. She thought that obviously meant they were trying to tell her they were her Mr. Goodbar.
Another lady called because some wild ducks were in someone’s pond when it was cold out and ‘that’s animal abuse and no one seemed to care.’
The best was a lady that called because her neighbor’s chihuahuas were doing the deed and she thought that was disgusting.”
“I once had the cops called on me by my neighbor. There was a car parked on the street by his backyard. Not blocking his parking space in front of his house, not on his property, not inconveniencing him in any way. It was not my car or that of anybody I knew.
The same neighbor called the cops on me for animal abuse. My dog was in my fenced-in backyard with a bowl of food and a bucket of water in the shade. They told the cops I chained him up all day and night with no food.
I showed the cops the pup and asked, ‘Why would I chain up a dog in a fenced-in yard?’
The same neighbor called the cops on me for ‘verbal assault’ when he knocked on my door and said it was against the law to leave my trash can by the road a day after pick up and I told him to ‘forget’ off and closed the door.
The weird thing was I never did anything to the guy to get him to start it and from what I asked the other neighbors he didn’t do that to them.”