People do dumb things. Sometimes, 911 dispatchers have to bear the brunt of ill-conceived choices when they receive emergency phone calls from people who have no idea how 911 works. Here are some personal favorites from dispatchers, who shared the dumbest calls they've ever received. Bless.
Beardedrugbymonster asked, "911 dispatchers of Reddit, what are some of the dumbest calls you've gotten?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Only in Florida.
Guy gets his truck stuck in the mud while out doing donuts at 3 AM and calls for help. Tell him he needs to pay a tow truck to winch him out. Guy gets angry and claims we are leaving him stranded in the dark (spooooky), tell him we can send an officer out to check on him if the area is unsafe. "Y'all got me f---ed up, I'm on probation and you tryin to send me back to jail!"
Tow truck arrives and while trying to winch him out, guy keeps taking off his clothes and trying to hook up with his girlfriend in the back seat...of the truck the driver is working on. Tow driver leaves. Guy calls back and is now VERY angry that tow driver didn't give his girlfriend a ride home, since he's gonna fight the cops when they show up. Additional officers were sent.
Calling the cops to ask permission to commit a crime... that's dumb. Also, meth is bad, don't do meth.
I had a woman call 911 to ask if it was legal to sell a baby.
I had a guy call to report information on a drug dealer because the dealer had sold him the wrong drugs. The guy said this was an ongoing issue and he had finally had enough.
Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result probably means you're doing it wrong.
Repo companies in the area report their repos to us, just in case the owner decides to try and report the car stolen. I started my shift that day logging several when one of the owners calls in. We take his info, confirm it matches, and let him know it was reported as repossessed and to contact his finance company.
A little while later, he calls 911 again to let us know that he paid it up to date and the address they gave him to pick up the car didn't exist, so he wanted to report it stolen. We again refer him to his finance company.
A few hours later, he called 911 again. He checked his onboard GPS signal and saw it listed his car in another city, the next state over. So he had driven there and searched the city, but didn't find it. So it had to be stolen. We again explain it was repoed and to continue speaking with his financial institution.
The day carries on, and we eventually get to the end of the shift. As we are wrapping everything up for our shift up before night shift gets in, he calls 911 again. He found the tow yard his car was stored at, but it was closed for the night. He needed us to open it for him so he could claim his car. We explain that it was a private business and the car wasn't stolen, so we can't just bust in and take his car, he will have to claim the car once they are open in the morning. He was so moved by our logic that he decided..... to try reporting it as stolen again.
I thought demons lived in fire...
Some lady wanted the fire department to come burn her house down because she thought a demon lived in it. I sent paramedics and police to check on her but I told her we'd be happy to burn her house down in a controlled training capacity if she wanted to donate it, but there was a lot of paperwork to get that started.
That frontier spirit hard at work.
"I'm super drunk and I got run over by a sled." Now in northern Alberta typically this would mean a snowmobile and potentially life-threatening injuries. No, no. His kid hit his ankle bone with a wooden toboggan. Didn't even have a bruise.
Ha, "piping" hot. Get it?
My husband used to dispatch before he was old enough to go to the police academy. We lived in a small town, ranked 3rd most dangerous in our state. Lots and lots of drug use. There was a woman who was honestly crazy. I don't know if she had mental problems before the drugs or if the drugs fried her brain but she was a regular caller. Some of her calls- she called to report a break-in because she fell asleep with her blanket wrapped around her but when she woke up it was bundled at her feet. She called one summer night (routinely got over 115 degrees in the summer) and said that she had walked 3 Miles from her apartment and needed a ride back because she was barefoot and her feet hurt. He asked her where her shoes were and she said she was carrying them. She walked 3 miles and didn't think to put them on.
Another call wasn't stupid but still stuck with me. It was a domestic violence call and when he asked what was going on the woman yelled: "he threw a piping hot chicken pot pie at me!" Something about her attention to detail I just thought was funny in an unfunny situation
Stop? More like slow.
3 am. Got a call about a suspicious vehicle outside of her house. I start getting the description and get my officers en route when she says "They're leaving!" I get the direction they are headed and relay it; I've got 4 officers converging like a net on this guy.
Now that I've got a moment I ask the woman: "What exactly did they do?"
She replies: "They just stopped at the stop sign for a moment and then they moved on...."
PSA: don't deep fry a frozen turkey, you will have a bad time.
1) Every Thanksgiving you'll always get the person who calls because they don't know how long to cook a turkey. Never fails.
2) Every Thanksgiving someone always puts a frozen turkey in a deep fryer - usually in a trailer home - and a fire "surprisingly" occurs.
3) People who have warrants on themselves love calling to complain and ask to see the police in person for a dispute. They don't seem to remember we look up everyone in the dispute, not just the accused.
Ok, I have questions.
A lady ran over herself with her own car. She called to let us know she was okay.
This was fall of 2012. Hope she's uh, still doing okay.
Edit: Damn, that blew up. For those wondering, this was in CA. The lady was calm, laughed nervously/embarrassed a couple times, absolutely refused any type of response (even Quiet from the FD), and didn't say how it happened.
We took down her info, gave the typical Safety Admonishment, told her to call back if she needed to.
This level of petty is inspirational, not sorry.
Once my dad got a call from the 911 dispatch. At first, he was really confused because he didn't call them in the first place. They asked
"Sir do you have a daughter?"
"Well, she just called and claimed you broke her heart!"
Apparently, my sister got in trouble when she was about 5 or 6 and called 911 claiming "My daddy broke my heart." She hung up in embarrassment after the dispatcher began laughing.
1 2 3 4 5. How are these people alive?
I've been a dispatcher for about 7 years now in a medium size county in Florida.
- Every year on July 4th and New Years we get calls about gunshots. Every single time the caller is perfectly convinced they're gunshots and couldn't possibly be fireworks. They'll say they hear automatic weapons or my personal favorite "rapid-fire shotguns". And every single time a deputy goes out to investigate, it turns out to be the unlikely culprit of fireworks.
- I had one woman call 911 to tell me she found a cell phone on the ground. That's it.
- Irate elderly male calls 911 while standing in the Sheriff's Office lobby to report the clerk not being helpful. When I told him that's not something you use a 911 line for, he went apesh_t, going as far as threatening to break into the office and shoot me. He was subsequently arrested.
- Male was arrested for domestic battery, called 911 from the backseat of the patrol car and stated he was being unlawfully imprisoned. When I told him the only thing I could do for him was to send him more deputies, he said "...no thanks" and hung up. He then proceeded to call three more times looking for a different answer. We told the deputies on scene, they took his phone away and added a charge of misuse of 911.
- Had a woman call in stating she accidentally took too much melatonin. She started getting hysterical when she felt the effects of her overdose. She was getting sleepy.
Blast this pesky contraption!
I'm not a 911 dispatcher but I'm a central station operator (I'm the lady that asks what your password is when your alarm goes off)
Been at my job 5 years. My favorite call ever was the second call I made to the house of an old couple, their alarm had gone off about 30 min prior, they weren't sure why the alarm was sounding so they asked me for the police to be dispatched. On the second call, the wife answered the phone, gave me all the correct information and then passed the phone to the officer. The alarm was still sounding but there was another weird beep in the background. We walked the owners through shutting their system off but this beep was still going off. The officer was getting frustrated and the homeowners weren't sure why the alarm as still sounding so they wanted me to shut the alarm down. I told him that our system was shut off and the beeping wasn't from us. The officer then went looking for the sound. He found out it was their alarm clock sounding. I swear I heard him roll his eyes through the phone and I tried my best not to laugh. He handed the phone back to the older couple who still had no idea what was going on but said the officer told them everything was okay.
Tldr: old couple has us dispatch PD because of strange beeping noise. Officer arrives to find out it was their alarm clock.
Come on, really...
Too many to count. If I had to pick a favorite I'd have to choose the time a concerned citizen called in an animal stuck in a tree. That animal...was a bird.
Ohhh you have warrants? Yes, we will definitely give you a ride.
Got a call from a woman in the wee hours of the morning, clearly drunk and slurring.
She says : "I wan shu to send an ocifer to mah housh and takh me to the bar, wait while ah git drunk, an then takh me home."
Me: "Ma'am I think you are looking for a taxi service."
Her: Well you guys shushpended mah license!"
Her: "Okay! Ah'm ready! Come n' git me!"
Me: Ma'am, I already told you, we are not a taxi..."
Her: "AH GOTS WARRANTS!"
Me: "Oh, well in that case..."
They said she fought like a prizefighter.
"Her hands are all blue...our caller never even noticed" that her neighbor had blown her brains out.
We have a call that every new trainee at my county listens to during training because it highlights how completely oblivious our callers can truly be. A neighbor enters her friend's house because she's not answering the door. She finds the patient on the couch sleeping. She calls 911 because she's not waking up. She says "She's not moving, not answering me or waking up. It looks like she has been cooking with blueberries, her hands are all blue." Operator already knows that means she's dead. We send everyone out, EMS arrives on scene first and immediately backs out. According to the deputy that arrived right after, she had a gun in hand, shot herself in the head and it splattered ALL over the wall behind her. Our caller never even noticed.
All crustaceans matter!
Working right now. My favorite call of all time was up in arms about lobsters being reserved at the local grocery store. He had a fit and called back a few times. Screaming and crying from the Seafood counter in a store I used to work for. I eventually sent an officer. Threw an even bigger fit in the store. Dinner was canceled and lobster man spent a night in jail. I called my old co-worker to get the play by play from inside the store.
"Most 911 calls are pretty dumb." Yeah, kinda picked up on that.
Going to let you in on a secret. Most 911 calls are pretty dumb, and not emergencies. I work overnight so most of the time the calls we get are pretty legit. But occasionally...
I've had the guy call in because he was looking at the weather radar and said that law enforcement, NOAA, and the CIA were covering up the fact that the storm he was looking at was going to destroy the city. There was no storm. There was no rain or wind. It was clear outside, had been for weeks and remained that way for weeks afterward.
Another woman called in because she said someone broke into her home and was now currently sitting on her couch looking at his phone. She said some noise woke her up and she saw the light from his phone when she opened the bedroom door. I asked the usual questions including if she had a dog and whether it was alerted to the noise. She said the dog was asleep on the bed and that he usually barks at strange noises (huge clue that nothing is happening, most dogs will alert to strange noises at night). Officer goes on scene doesn't see anything. Turns out the light she saw was from one of those electronic picture frames, that she owned, and knew about.
Another break-in call. Woman calls at around 2:30 in the morning. Says she heard someone knocking on her door and heard some noises outside. I've got 2 or 3 officers headed her way. Through our conversation, I find out she is hiding in the closet. Then, I ask when the last time she heard or saw something strange. She gets very quiet and says that she last heard something at around 11 pm. Turns out she had been working up the nerve to call 911, sitting in the closet for 3 and a half hours.
These are some of the more memorable ones I've had recently.
Well that's one way to Escape the Room...
I'm not a 911 dispatcher, however, I have a funny story involving my work and a 911 call. I work as a Game Master for an Escape Room company. We have a particular room that involves a phone, in which you need to input the correct phone number into it to progress in the room. It's not a real phone. But, one of the players had said, "Dial 911." Their Apple watch then dialed 911. They apologized and said that they were "hostages" in an escape room. Luckily the dispatcher understood they were playing a game and not real hostages.
For those wondering, if you input 911 into the phone in that room, it will say something along the lines of "You are unable to make the call as dialed."
Oh man I definitely don't want my phone passed around after I die.
A friend of mine wasn't 911 dispatch but he is an officer who had to work a desk for a period of time.
He got these two calls in successive days:
Day 1: "I can't find my lotto ticket and I'm sure I won!"
Day 2: "I live in Canada, but I got a text from your area code that I don't recognize and it says 'she's dead. How do we hide it?..."
The first call was dismissed. The second actually led to two arrests for murder
When you know you're screwed...
Answered a 911 call from a gentleman stating someone was chasing him. He had no idea where he was other than it was near the beach. I used the phase 2 location from his cell phone to start officers while I tried to get more information because English was not his first language and he seemed extremely panicked. He's in a vehicle and another vehicle was chasing him. I heard sirens in the background and asked him if he knew who was chasing him. He said yes that it was border patrol and he was scared and refused to pull over for them. I convinced him to pull over for one of my officers and that was the end of it.
Tldr: illegal immigrant called 911 because border patrol was chasing him.
Worst. Three-way. Ever.
At around 7am we got a transfer call from California call to our 911 center stating that a woman and her husband were being assaulted in their home by a stranger. No other information was provided except for the address. No prior history on the address either.
About half a dozen officers set up a small perimeter around the house to prevent the suspect from running. A highly intoxicated male tries to run out into the backyard and ends up being tased and detained. Sounds pretty standard for the most part.
Turns out that the original female victim had tried to video chat her friend in California while hooking up with a stranger that she and her husband brought home from a club the night before. The stranger didn't like this, so he starts screaming and freaking out to end the call. To the person in California, it seemed like her friend was being assaulted, which she definitely was not. The husband was in the corner and when the officers tried to speak to him to clarify the situation, he was too embarrassed and refuses to cooperate. The guy who was tased was evaluated by EMS and everyone was free to go about their business once there was some clarity on the situation.
This kid is going places. Nowhere is a place.
I used to be an emergency call taker for an ambulance service in the UK (so, 999 rather than 911!). One call started like this:
"Ambulance Emergency, what is the nature of the emergency?" (distant echoey voice) "I'm stuck in a washing machine!"
I thought it was a prank call (we used to get a lot) but apparently not. The ambulance crew knew the address well - there was a guy in his late teens who lived there and his thing seemed to be to squeeze into small spaces when his parents were out. He always kept his mobile phone with him in case he got stuck, which was quite often.
The "Deep State" strikes again.
A very well spoken lady called me to say that someone had stolen her laptop while she was working in a leper colony in Chelsea, London. This lady called almost every day, usually to tell me that MI5 had put a chip in her brain to track her activities or that her assigned officer from the Royal Protection Group had not shown up for work. Funny that. Edited to add that I was a 999 call handler/dispatcher in London.
This is DEFINITELY how horror movies start.
Man called me twice, at 3:00 and 3:30-ish in the morning, to tell me about the "Swamp Things." He was so drunk, I almost sent someone out on a wellness check, just to make sure he didn't pickle himself to death (though to be fair, I suspect he had long experience).
He "Wanted it on record that if anyone hurt one of 'em, he was gone' have they a**." I assured him that I had entered that into the report in large letters (this was, in fact, true).
He ended the second call with, "I seen 'em when I was a kid, and they're back!" Helluva thing to hear at 3:30 am on a solo shift. That sh_t's how horror movies start.