Real Dispatchers Share Nightmare Calls They'll Never Forget

Answering calls all day might seem like a boring job, but when you're working as a 911 operator or another type of dispatcher, you're bound to have some of the scariest and most unsettling conversations. This collection features stories from real life 911 and emergency dispatchers who shared their personal accounts of nightmare calls on Reddit.

Compiled are the most disturbing and frightening calls operators and dispatchers have received on the job. And it's clear from every story that working dispatch and helping people in life-threatening situations is one of the toughest jobs.

Photo: Princess.Botulism / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

  • Troubled Man Carries Through With A Dark Plan

    From Redditor /u/TheSpiritTracks:

    "My mom is a dispatcher for Phoenix. She had a call where a guy was calling in advance because he was going to kill himself. Well, he did, but he didn't hang up, and legally you're not allowed to hang up unless there's some very specific circumstances, so she had to sit there and listen to him die."

  • Screams Like No Other

    From Redditor /u/VVangChung:

    "I was a 911 dispatcher, and a volunteer firefighter in the town that I dispatched for. To set the story up, the way 911 works in the state I lived in at the time was your call will first go to a 911 call center, where an operator pulled up all the electronic information, GPS location if cell phone and then determines the location, usually by asking the caller, before forwarding the call to the proper fire department dispatcher (me) in the area of the call who will get the location (again) and the emergency information and dispatch the fire department and/or the ambulance. The 911 operator will stay on the line, while the caller talks to the dispatcher, but they usually don't say anything and let us talk to the caller. If we need additional location info, they sometimes chime in with additional info.

    So, I'll first say that I wasn't dispatching the night of this particular call - I was actually one of the first on scene with the fire engine for the call because I was with the volunteer FD that night. Two cars full of girls that had just come from a soccer team pasta dinner decided to go ghost hunting in our town late one night because we had an old abandoned mental hospital in our area. We also have very windy, unlit back roads. The girls were going way too fast, and one of the cars didn't negotiate a sharp corner very well. The vehicle rolled, and two girls were ejected from the vehicle before the car rolled on top of them. Those two girls did not make it.

    The eerie part about the call was the next dispatch shift I worked. I talked to the dispatcher who was on that night, and we reviewed the tapes of the call. Even though I was on scene for that call, listening to the recording of the call was terrifying. I heard our dispatcher answer the call, but all that could be heard on the other end was screaming. Screams of horror from teenage girls as they try to help their friends. Sheer terror. I've never heard screaming like that before.

    That's when the 911 operator spoke up over the screams to the dispatcher, "Hey, I have no idea what is going on. I wasn't able to get any info from anybody. The call comes up on GPS in the area of 123 [Street]. That's all I have." Luckily the dispatcher was smart and realized that there was a true emergency, so he not only dispatched my department, but the next closest department as well for extra personnel.

    Listening to that playback was one of the most unsettling things I've ever had to listen to."

  • Girl Calls From Closet When Stalkers Breaks In

    From Redditor /u/PsychedelicGoat42:

    "The creepiest phone call I ever took was while dispatching for my university while I was still in school. A girl called saying she was hiding in her dorm room closet because the girl that had been 'stalking' her had just broken into her room. The caller claimed that the intruder simply sat down on her bed and stared at the wall until the police showed up.

    It was eerie because it was just so abnormal. Not normal person behavior at all."

  • Frantic Wife Needs Help With Suicidal Husband

    From a former Redditor:

    "[A] lady calls in hysterics. I spend a solid two minutes on the phone, trying to get her to calm down enough that I can understand her, and the whole time I hear someone screaming in a language I can't recognize in the room with her. It sounds like some fanatic speaking in tongues. I finally get her calmed down enough to understand what she's saying.

    "My husband shot himself in the head! You've got to help him! He's talking to me, but I don't understand what he's saying! Please, please, please, you've got to come help him!"

    The husband and wife were arguing; the husband was drunk. He gets his .45 and shoots himself in the head. The incoherent yelling I was hearing was his broken brain trying to... Scream? Cry? Ask for help?

    He was still alive when they got to the hospital, but was taken off life support the next morning."

  • A Routine Call Takes A Horrific Turn

    From Redditor /u/PsychedelicGoat42:

    "A friend of mine who used to dispatch has the worst story I've ever heard. It was one of her first solo 911 calls, and the caller is requesting medical help with slurred speech. My friend was under the impression it was an elderly gentlemen experiencing a stroke.

    When units arrived on scene, however, they discovered that the caller was a 17-year-old who had been shot in the face by his mother. He bled out and died while my friend was on the phone with him."

  • Wife Injures Husband During His Birthday

    From Redditor /u/Lurlur:

    "I answered a call from a woman who had run over her husband in a speed boat and chopped off his legs. Their children were with her in the boat. It was the husband's 40th birthday, and he wanted to go water skiing. She didn't want to because she wasn't comfortable driving the boat.

    He died."