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.”

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!!”

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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