What's your emergency?
Hopefully you’ve never had to dial 9-1-1.
Since it was introduced to the United States in 1968, 911 has been the easy-to-remember, easy-to-dial phone number that could be used nationwide for reporting emergencies.
Though it feels ubiquitous today, 911 didn’t gain popularity until the 1970s, and many towns and counties, even cities, didn’t have a functioning 911 service well into the ’80s. While 911 only works in about 98% of the United States today, the three digits are intrinsically associated with emergency, and the number has become so ingrained in society that some young people today believe the number was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
And yet not everyone takes 911 seriously, even to the point of dialing 911 for a prank call, which can result in criminal prosecution. Still, the definition of an “emergency” remains ambiguous for many, and 911 operators have all had their fair share of cases that certainly didn’t merit police, fire, or medical attention.
Merry Christmas to All
6:30 Christmas morning. 9-1-1 goes off. “9-1-1. what’s your emergency?”
Breathless, panicky voice “How do I get the cranberry sauce out of the can without it coming out in chunks?”
“Open the other end and slide it out on a plate.”
“OH! THANK YOU! You are brilliant!”
I wasn’t considered so brilliant once I had to dispatch an officer over there to educate her on proper 9-1-1 usage. Merry Christmas, here’s your citation.
source: 4 years as 9-1-1 dispatcher/supervisor in rural Alaska (malloryparker)
Once we had a young woman call 911 around 2am saying that her legs were turning blue. Turns out she had worn a new pair of jeans to the club that night. (Buzkilll)
Great Balls of Fire
Not an operator, but my boyfriend who called in.
He usually worked a late shift, walking home about 2 am. This shift he got off work a few hours late…
BF: I’d like to call and report a fire. [We live in a fire prone area and it was the season.]
911: Where is it located sir?
BF: On the hillside just East of [City].
911: Can you be more specific? [Typing away in the background.]
BF: Yes, [gives a more detailed location]. Oh god, it’s getting bigger!
911: Stay calm sir, we’re sending somebody out.
BF: It’s getting bigger! Oh god! Oh…oh, wait…
BF: I am SO sorry…I’m not usually out this time of night, I just got off work late…that’s, that’s the sun…
BF: I am so, so sorry for wasting your time, there is no fire, that’s just the sun rising. Never mind. I’m really embarrassed…
911: That’s fine, Sir. I will cancel the call, thank you for calling. (LunarBerries)