Somethin’ Fishy

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A while back, I took a 911 call of a two vehicle collision. This call started out routinely enough, as I followed our SOP’s. The information gathering progressed quickly through the most important questions; “What is the location?”, “Are there injuries?”, “Are the vehicles blocking traffic?”, “Is anything leaking?”. Satisfied with answers to these questions, I continued on with the less vital information gathering.

When I finished with the caller’s info, I asked if I could speak with the other driver. The caller proceeded to tell me that the other driver had left, but had informed her that she would be right back. Finding this unusual, thinking that I was now dealing with a hit and run, I asked if she knew where the other caller had gone; I was not prepared for the answer that I received.

Apparently, the other driver told the caller that she had her fish with her in the vehicle and had to take it to the pet shop to get it checked out. Finding this obviously very strange, thinking that I had likely misheard, I asked her to repeat this and sure enough she repeated exactly what I thought she had said. Needless to say, in my eleven years of emergency dispatch, I have never heard an excuse like this and I thought that the caller had just had a fast one pulled on them.

As I was asking for clarification, the caller told me that other driver had come back. Since I was very curious, I decided that I definitely needed to speak with the other driver. When she took the phone, I asked if she did indeed have a fish and actually had to take it to the pet shop. To which she replied with a sigh, that she did have a fish her and that she had decided to take it back home to its tank instead. Resisting the urge to ask why she had a fish in her car, I simply asked if it was alright instead. With big a sigh of relief the driver said that she thought it would be.

Once I disconnected, I sent the file over to the dispatcher, with a chuckle and quick explanation. Later on, the dispatcher forwarded me a message from the officer concerning the fish that read: “The fish is going to make it!!!!!! Minor injuries, mostly shock from the accident, expected to make a full recovery and live a long healthy life….well, as long as fish live before they take their final porcelain journey.”

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Look Out the Window

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During a recent shift, one of my co-workers was sorting through an old binder that held her notes, cheat sheets and contact numbers from approximately 8-10 years ago. Reading over them, we realized that a lot has changed over the last eleven years plus years that we have been on this job. It was interesting to hear names of co-workers long retired, or moved on, stories and other reminders of dispatch days gone by.

One such story, was a call for assistance that my co-worker had taken a number of years ago; the outcome of which was rather humorous. The story starts with an intoxicated male calling for help, because he was lost. Unfortunately, back in those days our 911 call info came off on a printer and did not include GPS locations for the phones. So, the call-takers were having to rely on this fellow’s directions which were very sketchy at best, as he was giving road names that didn’t actually exist. Needless to say, the caller’s “unintentional” misdirection was making it very difficult for our officers to locate him. Plus, as the night wore on, he was becoming more and more intoxicated, because he was drinking as he walked.

Fast forward to much later in the shift; a new call for help is received. It came from a farmer, who had an unknown intoxicated male enter his home to ask for help. My co-worker and the dispatched officer quickly determined that there was likely a correlation between the suspicious male and the intoxicated male. So, the officer heads on over to the farmer’s residence and does indeed discover that the subjects are one in the same.

Shortly before shift end, my co-worker received a message from the officer that had dealt with the call. He informed her that the intoxicated male, had earlier been involved in a collision on the highway. Officers attended to that scene and at the time the male had not been drinking and told the officer that he had a ride on the way. So, the officer left him while he waited. After a while, the caller got bored waiting in his truck and decided to get drunk, really drunk. Some time had passed and when his ride didn’t show, he was feeling cold and decided to start looking for help. This ultimately led to the predicament of him walking into the farmer’s house and scaring them half to death.

The officer said “Too bad the alcohol had dulled his sense of sight…a half a mile away, was a gas station”. He explained further that they had three helicopters, officers from multiple jurisdictions, ems and fire all looking for the guy, “When all he had to do was…..Look out the window!”

Dispatch HiJinks

There are times in dispatch when you just have to take the opportunity to have a bit of fun with the officers. A little hijinks can make even the slowest moving night go by so much faster (if only for an hour). One night shift, during National Telecommunicators Week, we did just that with a perfectly hatched plan.

At our center, we were having an open house and had invited our officers to come in for a visit. That night, I was tasked with taking the officers on tours and answering any questions.  At one point, I had three of them come up for a visit. As I was showing them around, we swapped stories about some of the different hijinks that dispatch has played on them and vice versa. Then one of them stated that they were having a BBQ for their watch Sergeant, who was transferring to another unit and we should convince him that his truck had been stolen.

Of course, I was all for pulling off another prank and we started to hatch the plan. It was decided that we should go over the radio to dispatch a stolen vehicle file. This file would have details that the vehicle was believed to be stolen due to a broken window, erratic driving, that it had struck parked vehicles and was seen heading northbound at a high rate of speed. We decided that this was perfect and to wait until most of the other officers were back at the office for the BBQ.

After seeing our visitors out, I went back into the comm. center. Then I shared that the officers and I had come up with a plan to prank the watch Sergeant. After receiving permission from the supervisor, I asked my dispatch partner if she would like to have the honors. She laughed and said that she would like too.

As the BBQ approached, one of the officer’s called to let us know that it was almost time. He also confirmed for us, the make, model and license plate of the “stolen” truck. When nearly the whole watch was in the office, the dispatch went out. My partner executed a flawless description of the vehicle, the license plate, description of driving pattern and direction of travel. She even butchered the pronunciation of the Sergeant’s name for good measure. Upon hearing the details, you could hear the Sergeant ask the dispatcher to repeat the license plate. When it was confirmed, he apparently jumped up and headed for the door. However he quickly realized that none of the others were following him, as they continued to sit nonchalantly eating their burgers.

Good times were had by all…except the Sergeant.

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What not do….When You’re High

Now it goes without saying that some of the most strange calls can come from people who are intoxicated, or high. When we receive these types of calls, we will send help to them, but at times they do provide a little “comic relief” to the shift. The following story is one of those calls…

One night shift, my partner took a call on 911, from a male who started the call with “I’m high on drugs.” My partner not sure that she heard correctly, asked “Who’s high on drugs?” To which the caller replied, “I am…”

Once my partner confirmed what she had heard was in fact correct, she then asked the caller, “Do you need an ambulance?”  and “What kind of drugs are you on?” The caller, likely realizing that he was basically incriminating himself said, “Oh, I think I better call a lawyer before I tell you that.” Before my partner could ask anything else, he proceeded to say “Never mind, I’m OK, I’m just drunk.” Then promptly disconnected the line.

Due to the nature of the call and likelihood that it did in fact involve drugs, my partner created a file to dispatch to an officer. Since she did not have many details, besides the strange exchange between the caller and herself, she sent it out as an unknown assist with the little info that she did have.

Of course we had a good chuckle over this call and if this were the end, it is a great story. However, there is more…

Not long after the initial call, the PSAP took another 911 call from the same number. The male caller was on the line wanting to know our “Opinion of the war on drugs,” then stated the he “Wants to go to war.” This time the caller disconnected prior to the PSAP transferring to us. So, as per our standard operating procedures, another one of our call-taking partners attempted a callback to the number. All she received was a voicemail message that said, “Many blessings, have a wonderful day!”

When the officers attended, they did indeed find the caller; Fortunately, he wasn’t violent and was not danger to the officers, or himself. However, he was very high, disoriented & discombobulated. So, the officers gave him a helping hand out to the ambulance that they had called for him.

Let this be a lesson kids….”Just say, ‘NO’ to drugs!!”

What not to do when you're high

 

 

 

 

 

Forgot the Chocolates

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One Valentine’s day, around 0130 hrs, I took a call from a female reporting that an unknown male was knocking on her door. As I was gathering info, the male had walked away. So, I continued with my questions and asked for a description & a direction of travel. The caller proceeded to tell me that the subject had stopped at the doghouse, and I thought she said “sleeping ON it”. At first, all I could think of was Snoopy and how he would sleep on the peak of his doghouse. I then asked her to confirm and she actually said “sleeping IN it”. I finished with the info, trying my hardest not to laugh and sent it to the dispatcher.

The dispatcher that it went to was one of our newer trainees, that had recently finished her coaching. Of course, she started to giggle when she read the file. As I listened to her attempting to dispatch, she had to keep pausing. Finally she got out the dispatch, let go of the channel and started to laugh. This of course caught the attention of the rest of our partners in the room.

After the laughing had subsided some, we asked her to play back the recording of the dispatch. Listening to it, we understood why she had such a difficult time getting it out. After the initial, “Caller is reporting an unknown intox male at her door, now sleeping in the doghouse”, nearly all of the officers chimed in with some answer or another. It started with “Oh, this is gonna be good”, to various other responses including, “Dispatch, did you say sleeping IN the dog house?” and finished with another saying “Well, it is Valentine’s Day, maybe he forgot the chocolates”

This call completely made our night, and we all had a good laugh. In fact this call made our whole set!

Dispatch Monkey

 

Everyone loves Cinnamon Buns…

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One morning, we took a 911 call from a hotel staff person reporting a “robbery”. Thinking that the hotel had just been held up, the questioning took on a sense of urgency. The difficulty with this call, was that the caller had a very thick accent and didn’t have a strong command of the english language. Now, there is nothing wrong with this, but it does make it hard to understand the nature of the call at hand.

After a few questions, it was actually determined that the hotel staff weren’t “robbed” at all and what had actually happened, was that the cinnamon buns from the breakfast bar had been “stolen”. These delicious buns had been set out on a tray, ready for the morning buffet and a short time later, a couple of female guests came down and took the buns. Further questions were along the lines of why the staff thought this was a crime, because after all, “Don’t the cinnamon buns come with the complimentary breakfast?” and “Did they take them before the breakfast bar was open?”. Eventually, it was determined that the staff were upset that the guests had actually taken the ENTIRE tray. These “thieves” had decided that their love of cinnamon buns, trumped anyone else being able to have one.

When the dispatch was sent out, it  went something like this: “Patrol, a 911 call from hotel staff, reporting the theft of cinnamon buns from the ‘free’ breakfast bar”. To which there was an awkward silence, then an officer asked “Dispatch…did you say, ‘cinnamon buns?’…and they called on 911?”. Of course the answer to both questions was “10-4”.

Shortly after the initial dispatch, the hotel staff called 911 AGAIN. This time they were reporting that the subjects had come back, returned the buns and apologized profusely to the hotel staff. Apparently, these “hardened criminals” were so racked with overwhelming feelings of guilt about their “crime”, that they were crying as they returned them.

The officer dispatched was then updated about the return of the cinnamon buns. To which he replied, “Mmm…I think I’ll go have a cinnamon bun!”

Seriously…You can’t make this stuff up.

Dispatch Monkey

DM Cinnamon buns part 2

Lost Drunk Love

Winters where I am can be very unpredictable. One moment it might be mild and a few degrees below freezing, and within hours it could be 40 below. This can be very difficult for someone who is walking and lost, especially if they are intoxicated. So, we take it very seriously when someone calls asking for assistance when they find themselves in a situation like this. You just never know when the weather could take that ugly turn.

Fortunately, this particular story takes place on a relatively mild winter night. It wasn’t yet late, but it also wasn’t early either. In fact, it was just prior to when temperatures could quickly begin to drop. So, we were definitely concerned for the wellbeing of the caller.

Initially, when this fellow called 911, one of my call-taking partners took his information. The caller told her that he didn’t know where he was, that he was cold and needed help to get home. Apparently for most of the night he had been trying to walk home and was somewhere between his starting point and his destination. To top it off, he had also been drinking. Somewhat fortunately for him, his phone was GPS active and it gave us a near approximation of where he could be, but it was a wide radius.

The officers were then dispatched to the primary position of his GPS, which appeared to be just inside one of the towns that we take care of. However, their initial patrols were fruitless in locating our caller and with such a large GPS radius they couldn’t easily narrow it down. So, the officers requested that we call the cell phone provider, to have a new ping done on his cellphone.

While another dispatcher was calling for the new ping info, the same guy called 911 again. This time, I happened to be the call-taker who took the call. As I began my line of questioning, I quickly realized that this call was indeed from the same lost caller. Fortunately this time we had a much tighter radius on his phone, of approximately 25 meters and it placed him along one of the busiest highways in the region.

Upon realizing this, I immediately updated the dispatcher with the narrowed location information and then went back to the caller. Since he was walking at night on the busy highway I asked him what he was wearing, to determine if he was visible to traffic. Of course he told me that he was wearing all black clothing, which then caused me more concern for his safety.

With his location, as well as his not very visible clothing issue in mind, I told him that he needed to get right of the pavement. I advised him that he should go further down into the ditch, onto the grassy area for his safety and we would let the officers know to look for him off of the pavement. He then told me that he just wanted to keep walking, because he was cold and needed to stay warm. I told him that I understood that, however he should not move from where he was, to make it easier for the officers to find him. At first, he wasn’t quite comprehending what I was saying (no thanks to the alcohol), so I tried to explain it again.

Now it goes without saying, that intoxicated individuals take a little more time to have things explained to them and we had a discussion about the merits of his personal safety. Finally, the explanation made it through the alcohol daze and he said that he would stay put. I told him that the officers would be there soon and they would make sure that he made it somewhere safely. However, I didn’t tell him that would likely be in cells for the night.

As I was ending the call and to ensure that he understood, I once again said, “Now just stay where you are, OK?”. To which I thought I heard him reply, “Ok, I love you guys too”. Now this took me by surprise and I wasn’t sure if I had heard him correctly and I said, “Pardon me?”. To which he once again replied, “I love you guys too”.

Needless to say I paused, trying to process what I had heard and trying to think of what to say next. In my moment of utter confusion, all I could muster was, “Umm…bye now” and then I abruptly disconnected the line.

True Story……

Dispatch Monkey

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