Under Arrest - Nine-One-One

Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

Welcome back to A-Z - today's letter is N, and it is for 911. An emergency call is usually what gets the ball rolling in a missing persons or homicide case. 

Conversations are being recorded and used as part of the discovery. It wasn't always the case, but the Supreme Court ruled that these recordings can be used in court, even though as a general rule in most states it isn't allowed to record conversations without the other person's consent. 

Remember this attorney Michael Cohen who recorded incriminating conversations with Donald Trump? 

Anyway, I was looking into the job of a 911 operator or dispatcher. They have a very interesting, demanding and draining job. Imagine dealing with people's crisis all day long. Some may me less bad than others, but still. 

Typically the person who makes the call is too emotional to remember what information the dispatcher needs in order to get the appropriate emergency responders to you.

Here are a couple of real life 911 calls from high profile cases, can you recognize them? (Hint, I have been - or will be - talking about them in the course of this A-Z)

  1. My daughter has been missing since this morning. She's eight months pregnant. She took her dog for a walk in the park. The dog came home with just the leash on. 
  2. Hi, I have someone here who I need to be arrested in my home, and I have a possible missing child. 
  3. Um, I just need 'em to come. I need a police officer, Yeah, send an ambulance. 
  4. Ma'am, I killed my boyfriend in self-defense. 
  5. We have a kidnapping. Hurry, please! There's a note left, and our daughter is gone. 
  6. Somebody came in, they broke in! They just stabbed me and my children. My little boy is dying!
  7. I'm concerned about a friend of mine. I dropped her off at her house at 2am last night because we were out of town and on our way back home from the airport. She's pregnant, and I haven't been able to get a hold of her this morning, and I got to her house, and her car is there, but she won't answer the door and she won't answer her phone calls, she won't answer her text messages.... 

Let me know who you think placed the calls (or who the victims were) in the comments below.

Now - how can you do better? Here are some tips:

  • Make sure the situation requires 911 assistance at all. 911 is meant to help in situations involving medical emergencies, fires, or crimes in progress. If someone is hurt, injured, or facing another emergency, don’t waste time, but do think about whether or not you need this type of assistance.
  • Try to calm down. Crying and yelling won't get you anywhere.
  • Know your location. If you call from your landline, your address will pop up, but if you're on the road, calling from your mobile phone, it's crucial to tell them your coordinates so they can find you.
    WhatsApp has a "share location" function. Even if you can't send it to 911 (some areas, however, provide text-to-911 
    assistance) you can read to them what you can see on the map. Describe landmarks or intersections that might help find you.
  • What happened? Who is involved / injured, how many people need what kind of assistance? 
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Will a building be completely on fire and / or collapse, is there a risk of another avalanche, are shooters still in the house?
  • Listen to the operator, they will tell you what to do: CPR, move to a safer location, wait outside, whatever it is, they're trained, and they know what they're doing.
  • Stay on the line and keep the operator updated. They want to make sure first responders get to you and take over.
  • If you or someone else (like a child) accidentally call 911, don’t hang up the phone. If you just hang up, the dispatcher may assume that an actual emergency is going on and send assistance. Instead, stay on the line and calmly tell the dispatcher that the call was a mistake.

Let's take this a step further. Imagine you are the victim of an accident and are unconscious. Make sure there's an ICE card in your wallet. An "In Case of Emergency Card" contains contact numbers of your family members that need to be contacted. 

If you suffer from any medical condition that paramedics need to know about (epilepsy, diabetes, allergy to known drugs, you name it) or if you're an organ donor, you should also carry this information with you at all times.

Now let's hope you'll never actually need that knowledge. 

Be good and be safe! 

As always, thanks for your visit and see you back tomorrow.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


  1. I've never had to call 911. Thank goodness.

  2. jodi arias should have used #4. might have actually helped her case.

    Joy at The Joyous Living

  3. My husband often talks about his time managing the communications center for his county's fire department. Nope, no way could I have done that! They do an amazing job.

    DB McNicol, author
    A to Z Microfiction: Night

  4. Thank god, i never got into this situation. But your article is full of the practical tips. Thanks for the same.


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. It will be visible as soon as I had a chance to verify that you are not an anonymous user and/or a spammer.