911 Operators and Dispatchers - The Crazy Stuff
911 Operators and Dispatchers fill their day with talking. They talk on 911 and talk on the administrative line. They talk to other agencies, hospitals, power companies and utilities departments.
They also talk to their officers, ambulance crew and fire fighters over the air.
Sometimes people call in a panic, and sometimes they're surprisingly calm. Sometimes they've had too many cocktails and sometimes they're confused and frustrated.
But just when you think you've heard it all, another call comes in and you just can't believe what you've heard.
Here are just a few examples:
When trying to check the breathing status of a patient, an operator asked the hard of hearing elderly man if his wife had taken a breath, "Breasts? She hasn't had breasts in 20 years!"
A standard question to ask someone calling for a patient with chest pain, "Has he ever had a heart attack or angina?" The caller turned to the patient and asked, "Have you ever had a heart attack or gonorrhea?"
When a caller is travelling in a vehicle, we often try to get a direction of travel such as north on Main, or east on Elm street. So when the response to the question, "Which direction are you travelling?" was, "Straight."
It's not always a regular run of the mill person that can surprise us. Asked of a nurse on the line, "How far did the patient fall?" The nurse said: "From the room to the nurses station." . . .
Say that again?
An anxious caller with an injured shoulder was waiting outside. Still on the line with the operator he said, "They're driving right by me!" She told him, "Well wave them down." The incredulous caller said, "But I have a bad shoulder" Without missing a beat, "Well don't use that arm then!" . . . . I'm not sure why we thought that was so funny, but we laughed for hours.
When taking a medical call, part of the protocol is to always ask "Is he conscious?"
Two of my favorite responses:
"Is he conscious? . . . .Yes but he's irresponsible"
"Is he conscious? . . . . How do I know, I'm not a brain surgeon!"
A Favorite Among Dispatchers, Caution NSWF Language
Have you ever called 911 and heard the operator ask or say something stupid?
If you'd like to elaborate, I'd love to hear your story in the comments field below
The Stupid Things That We Say
It's certainly not just the caller that can surprise us, sometimes we surprise ourselves. Sometimes it's a slip of the tongue and sometimes we may think we are making sense.
A co-worker of mine began to hear so many flub ups, albeit starting with me, that she started a list. This isn't everything on the list, and those not in the business may wonder what's so funny. But here is a quick look at all the ways we, (and I) can mess up.
A call taker was advised by a caller that he was having a hard time breathing. Just a slip when she then asked, "Sir can you tell me how hard you are?"
On a call for a cardiac arrest, the very calm operator asked the panicked caller, "What is that slapping sound?" We in the room could not hear his response, just the operator chastising him with, "Sir, there is to be no slapping of the patient!". . . .
From this point we all would jokingly refer to "rescue slaps."
While on the phone with a caller waiting in his car, the caller was afraid the officers wouldn't see him. She just said, "Can you get out of your car and flash them?". . . .
Don't try this at home, you could get arrested.
For the purposes of clarity to those responding to the scene, we make an effort to get all of our players in place, the suspect, the perpetrator, the patient, someone that just witnessed an incident or someone who actually knows what's happening. The operator asked, "How long have you known him?" When the caller stated that they she had been going with him for 18 years, the surprised operator responded "You've been bowling with him for 18 years?" . . . .
Snort out the nose laughter when a dispatcher asked a call taker to make a call to a residence, she asked "Is there a Willie in the house?" . . . .
Inside a Cab Driver?
CAD stands for Computer Aided Dispatch. Before the dispatcher airs the call, they read the computer screen to see what the call is all about. It's the computer age, and with it comes computer mistakes.
Not just typos, but some serious re-wording issues can show up that cause much hilarity and entertainment for hours.
All too funny if the dispatcher can catch it before airing it. Even funnier when they don't!
Hear are just a few "try not to laugh while dispatching" notes that have been put into the computer.
- PATIENT ADVISING HAS STAFF INFECTION & PUSSY ON LEG.
- BTWN WALMART AND CHICK FELAY
- MALE WITH CRAPS, CORRECTION, CRAMPS NOT CRAPS. . . Yes she typed CRAPS in the call twice.
- HUSBAND MOONING UNABLE TO SAY WHAT'S RON
- VEHICLE DOWN IN A BICYCLE IN A BITCH . . . .uhh, should that have been ditch?)
- WHITE MALE WITH BREAD . . . should have been beard
- HIT AND FUN
- LSW (last seen wearing) A WHITE SHIT
- Those beautiful black condo's that look out over the Gulf - GOTH VIEW CONDO'S
- PATIENT INSIDE A CAB DRIVER
- SQUARE SHIRT AND BROWN PANTS . . . Sponge Bob's brother?
- PATIENT HAD AMPUTATION BELOW THE CHIN APPROX ONE MONTH AGO. . .They're still alive?
- LOW BLOOD CLOUD
- TACKLE 10 AND 11 FOR TRAINING
- Trying to clarify what was possibly a transformer that was blown, the call taker typed "CALLER HEARD A LOUD POOP"
- I did a double take before dispatching the vehicle , "WHITE OUTTIE"
- Maybe she was on a ship when she had a "SEA SECTION"
Over the Air
300 Channel 800 MHz Scanner
"Stand by for Radio Sex"
We did a standard roll call every day over the radio, and began by announcing, "All units stand by for radio check." Perhaps this dispatcher had a good night because she aired, "All units stand by for radio sex."
When it gets really busy, a dispatcher doesn't always have time to read the notes before speaking. Sometimes we just have to trust our call takers and go with it.
I was very busy and aired a call that was taking place at a local college. The location was at student housing, which was abbreviated, STD Housing. Sure enough I aired it:
"S.T.D (ESS TEE DEE) Housing". . .
Now there may be some incidents at that college, but it's not our place to judge.
Sometimes those responding can read the call on their mobile computers mounted in their vehicles. But sometimes they prefer the information be aired anyway. When asking for their preference the dispatcher asked, "Do you want it orally?"
With the fire department on scene of a smoke investigation, they came over the radio and said, "We are unable to locate anything, do you have anything further?" I responded with, "Negative, the caller passed on.....Uh I mean drove on."
When calling the duty officers, a dispatcher once said, "Attention all doofy officers". . .
I don't think they took it personally.
"Flames coming from underneath the dumb truck". . .
I guess it can be pretty stupid to let your dump truck catch fire.
When describing vehicles for the crew responding to a crash, "White Van versus a Green Mini Bag.". . .
Oh yes those small purses can be dangerous.
Ass Whooping Fairy?
Sometimes it's not on the phone, or over the air. Sometimes we slip up when talking among ourselves in the room.
We had taken just one too many assault calls that day, and unfortunately we had a boy scout troupe visiting our center for their field trip.
With 6 and 7 year old wide eyed tiger scouts in the room, our supervisor yelled. "Well the ass whooping fairy is out today!"
The Hospital can Cancel Rescue!
Ring Down lines are one button lines that automatically ring to a certain location. We have ring downs for other law enforcement agencies, power companies, and hospitals E.R's.
I accidentally hit one of the hospital emergency room ring downs instead of another agency and told them, "You can cancel rescue." The stunned hospital emergency room staff member just said, "What?"
DUH, I'm thinking as I repeat, "You can cancel rescue"
Uh, DUH on me, disregard.
For the 911 Operators and Dispatchers, I'd love to hear your stories in the comments field.
Have you had any flubs that you still laugh about to this day?
Dumb, dumb, dummy
"How'd you get this job you dumb, dumb, dummy?"
Who knows if the caller was frustrated with the questions being asked, or felt they weren't getting the help they needed.
But this comment was said to one of my co-workers many years ago, before I had even started with the agency. It was one of those comments that just stuck. We repeated it and laughed about it for years. It was a way of laughing at ourselves and relieving stress. The fact of the matter is, if you're a dumb, dumb, dummy, there's no way you could do this job.
Being a 911 Operator and Call Taker is not easy, and no one knows that more than those of us that do the job.
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