Last summer we were driving around near the cabin when we rounded the bend on a backcountry road and found ourselves disturbingly close to acres upon acres of trees that were crackling with flames. JB called 911 to report the fire and we learned that it was a controlled burn — a fact that became more obvious once we finally saw the nearby logging/fire crew on our way back out — but man, it was spooky. Loud, and not controlled-sounding at all. It felt like being close to some sort of enormous snapping monster, something that would have let out a dark sky-quaking chuckle at the thought of being told where it could go and how much it could eat.

Anyway, I was remembering that 911 call a couple days ago when I saw an ambulance go screaming by our neighborhood, and thinking how lucky I am that so far I’ve had no experience with calling in a real emergency (not counting paper jams). I asked JB if he’d ever called 911 before the fire, and he shrugged and said he thought so, he just couldn’t remember when. It seems to me that it’d be something you’d never forget, but maybe not? I’m curious: have you ever called 911? What was it for? Were you terrified?

PS: Please enjoy the fact that there is an actual top-result Internet article titled, awesomely, How To Call 911: 7 Steps (With Pictures). “Pick up the receiver. Press 9. Press 1. Press 1 again,” is step THREE. (I can’t believe it’s not a slideshow.)


112 Responses to “What is your emergency”

  1. FFF on November 4th, 2013 3:01 pm

    I had to call 911 when I thought my 26 year old husband was having a heart attack. It turned out to be pluerisy, but boy, it was scary! His lungs were inflamed and he said it hurt to breathe worse than when had a cracked rib! The EMTs diagnosed it before they even had him in the ambulance, but they still had to take him to the ER to have it confirmed.

  2. Amy N. on November 4th, 2013 3:03 pm

    I called 911 from an Iowa highway when we were driving late at night and all of a sudden there were cows on the road. Lots of them. I wasn’t even sure that 911 was the right call to make, but I knew I had to tell someone.

  3. Katharine on November 4th, 2013 3:08 pm

    What a terrific story prompt. The Time I Called 911.

    I’m sure I did it at work, for one of my attorneys, who thought he was having heart problems but was just severely dehydrated (kids, drink water if you commonly run 10 miles a day, not Diet Coke). I don’t think that was the first time, but like JB, I can’t remember other contexts. It must have been for strangers, not loved ones.

  4. Oana on November 4th, 2013 3:11 pm

    I called 911 when I saw a guy crawling into my neighbor’s basement window with a flashlight.
    I also called 911 when I saw a man standing on the other side of the railing on a bridge – it looked like he was thinking about jumping. That one had me really upset for days.

  5. @StateofKate on November 4th, 2013 3:11 pm

    I called 911 from a parking lot payphone when I was 25 (THAT was a while ago, obviously) because while I waited for my boyfriend to come out of a liquor store I *swear to god* I thought I witnessed a home invasion in an apartment complex across the street. From afar, it looked like 2 guys with drawn guns kicked in a door and entered an apartment.
    Apparently it was nothing. (We had to stay on the line.) I maintain it was some college kids pranking their friends or a drug deal gone bad and no one owned up to it.

  6. Clarabella on November 4th, 2013 3:11 pm

    I’ve called 911 at least twice that I can think of, once years ago when a car blew a tire on the interstate in front of me and flipped from the inner lane across to the middle of a field on the side of the road. I pulled over, dialed 911 & explained while running toward the upside-down car, only to find myself standing next to the perfectly-fine driver, bitching to whoever SHE was on the phone with that she’d just totaled her car. Phew.
    And the second time was just this semester when a student had a grand mal seizure outside my office door. I called the paramedics and waited with him (with a few other witnesses) until they arrived.
    Both experiences were terrifying, and I only hope I never have to call for someone closer to me than a stranger, because while I am very calm and in control when it’s someone I don’t know, if I had to call for a loved one, I might very likely lose my shit.

  7. Suzy on November 4th, 2013 3:16 pm

    Hi there-
    Ok, I’m with you, if you’ve ever called 911 – I don’t think you would forget it – ever. I have 2, or sort of 1.5 – cuz the second was a 911- too late.
    1st – I was living in Portland but visiting my college friend in Seattle. On that Sunday night she left for a work trip to Alaska. Her twin sister and I stayed the night in her apartment before going back to Portland on Monday am. Around midnight we heard someone trying to break in – I freaked out completely, totally like an I love Lucy episode, running on the bed in circles – I couldn’t figure out what to do. My friend was useless. Finally, I ran off the bed, out to the phone in the main room of the apartment, jumped under the desk and dialed 911 after turning on every single light in the place. But, when talking to the 911 operator, I just couldn’t speak. I couldn’t tell her Queen Anne and kept saying Capital Hill – even though I meant Queen Anne, and then I didn’t know her address – so I had to find her mail – felt like it took forever. In the end, the burglar didn’t get in, he gave up, and the cops got there fast, and checked it all out, and left. and…. we basically didn’t sleep all night and got the hell out in the am. Turns out the “burglar” came back the next night, stole my friends checkbook and her car – and totally got caught because he paid for a pizza delivery with her check and had it delivered to the same building but to the apartment upstairs. Total idiot. My friend moved the next week.
    2nd 911 call… About 8 years ago, I bought a house off Latona in Seattle. My neighbor was a really old guy – who could hardly see or hear. Super nice, but hard to talk, so i never really did talk to him, we just waved. Over the course of a year, I knew his patterns pretty well, when he took out his trash, when he went to bed, etc… because my kitchen window looked down to his kitchen window and outside walkway. One night his outside light was on, and his side door was open.. I wondered what the deal was, and it was bugging me, and it was still on and open when I went to bed. So, all night I tossed and turned and worried about it, but i didn’t go over because i didn’t really feel comfortable and i didn’t really know him other that our initial meeting. But i had this major gut feeling that he was dead. So, the next morning, it was all still the same, so i called 911 on the way to work and told them that I was worried about my neighbor that i didn’t know well, but that he was old and his pattern was usually the same, but now out of whack. So…… they came by while i was at work, and turns out he had had a heart attack while taking out the trash – and he was dead right there on his walkway around to his back yard. Ugh. Kind of sad, but they said he went fast – maybe to make me feel better, since basically he was out in the rain all night alone and dead. Anyway, that was weird but here’s what’s weirder. I told the story at work and a co-worker pipes in “I know that guy! I just had Thanksgiving with him.” Turns out this old guy was a friend of this guys girlfriends family – and her mom was his caretaker or something like that… so…. small world, and a freaky 911 – and yes, i had a teeny little worry that the cops would wonder if I somehow killed the guy – but alas, it wasn’t like tv, they believed me. He just dropped dead of old age.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me share… Been following your blog for a while – love your writing and you’re a brave gal for putting it all out there – i admire you! Glad you are happy in Eugene – As a former Oregonian – I love it there!
    Thanks, Suzy

  8. bibliogrrl on November 4th, 2013 3:16 pm

    I had to call 911 for my mom 3 days after my dad’s funeral when she dislocated her hip (that she had had surgery on 2 months prior).

    I got to ride in my own ambulance a month later when I was afraid I was having a heart attack (nope, just an expensive panic attack).

    I called 911 16 years ago (before cell phones were common) when I found someone I thought may be dead. He looked peaceful, like he’d fallen asleep in the parking lot and just never woke up. I don’t know what happened.

    I called 911 when I saw a couple loudly arguing in a car, in traffic, and he wouldn’t let her exit the car.

    I called 911 on Saturday night when I saw what looked like an accident on a major thoroughfare here.

    If in doubt, I always always call. I don’t want to be the person who could have called and didn’t.

  9. Karl on November 4th, 2013 3:21 pm

    I don’t recall ever calling 911 for an emergency, in the sense of needing help immediately. We live about 3 minutes (if the light is red) from an emergency room and I think we carted various kids there when they were young.

    The only 911 call I remember making was recently, when I was with my 89 year old dad in a hotel room, and he died while we were getting ready to go to breakfast. :-( It was clear that there was nothing to be done, the call was more like “ok now what do I do…”

  10. Leah on November 4th, 2013 3:25 pm

    I’ve called 911 only once for an emergency. My neighbour’s baby was choking and she didn’t have a phone. Very scary!
    I’ve called the non-emergency police number many times though…to report noise violation, break and enter, suspicion of domestic dispute, etc.
    I’m glad I haven’t had to call 911 often…I feel lucky and blessed about that.

  11. Mary on November 4th, 2013 3:37 pm

    I have called 911 twice when I was in car accidents and once when I witnessed a car accident.

  12. Amber Scott on November 4th, 2013 3:40 pm

    I have a story of calling 911!

    It was around midnight and I was making cupcakes for some dumb reason. My husband was working a late second shift and wasn’t home yet, though I was expecting him soon. My two young daughters (then 5 and 6) were asleep in their beds. So I’m standing in my kitchen, working the mixer, when I sense a movement out of the corner of my eye. I turn, fully expecting it to be my husband home from work, but it was some RANDOM MAN standing in my kitchen, smiling at me expectantly.

    I drew in a sharp breath, yelled “OH MY GOD” and his face faltered a bit. I yelled “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE,” and he full-on frowned, like that was NOT the reaction he was expecting. “GET OUT! GET OUT RIGHT NOW!” I yelled, and he apologized, turned, and walked out of the door. I followed him the whole way, locked him out, then called my husband and burst into tears. He was like, “CALL THE POLICE!” And so I did. (Why that wasn’t my first inclination, I have no idea.)

    The cops showed up, took a look around, walked up and down the cul de sac where I live, and said whoever it was was gone.

    But still. It was a loooooong time before I started feeling comfortable home alone again.

    Ugh. Creepy dude.

  13. Jules on November 4th, 2013 3:46 pm

    I just called 911 last Sunday, on myself, for a heart attack. Turns out it was just shy of one, with 99% blockage in a coronary artery, but I definitely needed the ambulance. I’ve called for other reasons, but this was the scariest. I couldn’t catch my breath enough to clearly give them my address, and couldn’t hold the phone very well. Much better now with a stent installed.

  14. Melissa on November 4th, 2013 3:46 pm

    I’ve only called 911 once, a few years ago. I had gotten up in the middle of the night, like 2:30 in the morning, to get a glass of water (something I never did), and as I was heading back into my room a bright light through the closed blinds of the living room caught my eye, so I peeked outside and there was a fire across the street. A big pile of moving boxes the new neighbors had dumped right next to a telephone pole and a bunch of cars was on fire. I remember thinking, oh my God, what if the telephone pole catches fire (and falls over on my house) and what if the cars explode?? For just being a pile of boxes, the fire was pretty big. So I called 911 and got transferred around to the fire department, and about five minutes later a truck showed up and put the fire out. The telephone pole to this day still has burn marks. I still wonder what caused the fire to begin with.

  15. meeshie on November 4th, 2013 3:46 pm

    I called 911 once when I heard a neighbor (at a previous residence) beating their 1 year old child.

  16. Anonymous on November 4th, 2013 3:48 pm

    Never on purpose. Once, by mistake, when using a calling card whose first three digits were 9-1-1. I accidentally forgot to call the exchange number first, so when I started to put in the code, it went straight to the emergency services. I must have noticed my mistake and hung up before it even rang on my end, but a few minutes later there were cops at the door who inquired very seriously if everything was okay. They took me into another room, even, to make sure it wasn’t a domestic dispute where I was scared to say anything in front of my husband. I felt all inappropriately giggly, ’twas terrible.

  17. Christine on November 4th, 2013 3:49 pm

    Sorry, that wasn’t meant to be anonymous. It was me. I.

  18. Deborah on November 4th, 2013 3:52 pm

    I had to call 911 when I locked my toddler in the car- it was parked in our garage on a cool day- thank god!. I had thrown the keys into the front seat because he was playing with them while I was trying to get him in his carseat. After getting him in the carseat I shut the door and as I was coming around the back of the car I heard a click click sound. Apparently he had hit the lock button and when I shut the door it initiated it to lock. I had to run to the neighbors as my cell phone was in the car too. I was so freaked out. The cops had to place a wedge in the door to get a wire in to pull on the handle.

  19. Mandy on November 4th, 2013 3:53 pm

    I was in the bathroom at night (at home) when I heard crackling leaves outside the window, like someone was walking out there. My husband peered around the house and saw someone crouching under the bushes, so I called 911. Turned out to be a completely inebriated guy who was searching for a place to pass out. First we got to hear the cops, weapons pulled, yelling “Get on the ground!” to this person–right outside my son’s window. Good times. (The best part was when one of the cops came to the door to point out the guy, listing and weaving on his feet, in handcuffs at the end of our sidewalk, and asked “Are you sure you don’t know him?” Yeah, pretty sure.)

    The second time I called was when we witnessed a smashed up car, with the wheel-well bent in grinding against the wheel, driving super slowly down our street while another car full of angry young men tried to get him to pull over. After he did, the guys just started beating the shit out of him. From what I could piece together it seemed that the smashed up car had hit them and drove, very slowly, away. The cops let the guys go, and although the driver was clearly drunk and should also have been arrested, I found the vigilante justice right in front of our house very disturbing.

    Yes, we live in an interesting neighborhood.

  20. Stacey on November 4th, 2013 3:54 pm

    Well, this seems weird, but I was living at home after grad school, and my father was in a nursing home, so it was just me, my mom, and my grandmother, and one morning I woke up to find my mom panicking because my grandmother had died during the night. I know it was my idea to call 911, but I don’t know which of us actually made the call – weird, huh? I also would think you wouldn’t forget making that call, so maybe it was my mom who did it. Even though my grandmother was not in the best health, we were still shocked when she passed.

  21. Gigi on November 4th, 2013 3:59 pm

    I have called them twice. Once by accident, where I promptly learned NOT to hang up once you realize what you did – as evidenced by the police showing up at my door. And once this past summer when I thought my husband was having a heart attack (turned out to be a severe allergy attack) – had to have been one of the scariest moments of my life to date.

  22. Mary on November 4th, 2013 4:02 pm

    First time, I was babysitting.There were three kids, including a baby and I think one of the neighbors kids,I was helping someone in the bathroom (wink wink) and I flipped on the light switch and the light bulb exploded. I saw flames and smoke. Scared me to death, but I managed to get everybody outside and called 911. No fire, no damage, just a fluke. Second time was when our house got struck by lightening. So scary. No one mentioned to my husband and I when we bought the house that because we are on a ridge that tends to happen. Whoops. We had smoke damage and had to replace a lot of appliances but nothing to major. It has almost been 4 years and I still don’t like lightening storms.

  23. Courtney on November 4th, 2013 4:03 pm

    I came across a motorcycle accident, I pulled over and a neighbor said they called 911. I helped the guy get out from under his motorcycle, after several minutes with no ambulance and an obvious smell of gasoline I called 911, they said someone was on their way, but it still took a while.

  24. Willa on November 4th, 2013 4:20 pm

    Quite a few years ago, we got new cordless phones, and I was programming them. I programmed “911″ in as a speed dial number, and I guess I pressed it to test it, then immediately hung up, not knowing that it records the call even if it doesn’t ring.

    Police showed up in about five minutes, and insisted on coming in to be sure that I wasn’t being held hostage.

    I felt very stupid, but it was good to know how well it works.

  25. Emily on November 4th, 2013 4:23 pm

    We were downtown on St. Patrick’s Day and came across a kid in his 20s passed out cold on the sidewalk. Everyone just walked past him like is was no big. While I was talking to the 911 operator he slowly got to his feet and started to stagger off. The operator said “STOP HIM, DON’T LET HIM MOVE!” So I had to be all “honey, you need to stay put” and he was so drunk he couldn’t even speak. Then a firetruck roars up onto the sidewalk for this drunk guy, and I worry that I overreacted and did I burden him with the bill for the paramedics?

  26. Maggie on November 4th, 2013 4:23 pm

    I called many years ago when a roof beam on our porch fell on my husband’s head. He was conscious but bleeding a lot from a head wound. I was terrified but the operator was super calm and the ambulance arrived about 2 minutes later since we lived right up the street from a fire station. Husband went to the ER and I tell you, they see head injuries right away. Now I know why we ended up waiting 3 hours the other times we went to the ER with much less frightening injuries.

  27. Melanie on November 4th, 2013 4:25 pm

    I got home late after yoga one night, and my cat met me at the top of the stairs, and proceeded to act very out of sorts. He kept staring down the hall toward the bedroom, retreating into the kitchen and then craning his neck around the fridge to peek. He would follow me about halfway down the hall, but would NOT go in. I could do nothing to coax him into the room.

    So that started to freak me out. I mean, the house was quiet, and nothing had been disturbed, but he had never acted like this before. I got as far as the threshold and flicked on the lights. Tried to get him to follow me in, to no avail.

    So I did what any rational person would do: left my husband a voicemail, texted a few friends, grabbed my chef’s knife and tried to put 911 on speed dial.

    In doing so, I alerted the cops to the fact that I was, y’know, dialing their number repeatedly, and they called me back. I apologized profusely, and explained how the cat had been acting. “And while I have you on the phone, would you indulge me by staying on the line while I take the cat and a very big knife into the bedroom?”

    He did. I did. And promptly burst out laughing.

    Because I found a lamp knocked to the floor. My cat wasn’t SCARED, he was GUILTY.

  28. Jas on November 4th, 2013 4:27 pm

    Let’s see…

    I called once because my husband and I happened upon the scene of a just-occurred car accident. That day I learned that if there are no injuries, you better be ready to wait for up to over an hour for the cops to show.

    I called once on my way home during a snowstorm when I came across a car in the ditch.

    I called for myself. My son was 3 months old and my husband was on a business trip. During a 2 AM nursing session, my back started to hurt. I laid my son back down and over the next 15 minutes came to believe I was having a heart attack. I was having 8 out of the 10 heart attack symptoms for women. I called my sister to come and sit with the baby and then I called 911. I got two doses of nitroglycerin, and ambulance ride, an ultrasound, and a diagnosis of an inflammed and full-of-stones gall bladder.

  29. Pete on November 4th, 2013 4:32 pm

    Found a dead guy and had to dial 911

  30. Andrea on November 4th, 2013 4:45 pm

    I grew up in a crappy neighborhood with gangs and I called 911 several times since I was about 12…usually for shootings across the street or someone wielding a weapon. Oh, and once for a house fire down the block.

    As an adult, my friend dialed 911 for me because I was about to pass out from a temporary, not-serious heart condition that’s now well controlled. Firefighters and EMS picked me up from my own living room and my 3 year old son barely looked up from his ipad. I don’t even know if he remembers that.

  31. Ashleas on November 4th, 2013 4:49 pm

    One time, At Band Camp… (Seriously this is how this goes!) My best friend and I were roommates in the absolutely wonderful Lodge. As lucky senior girls we had air conditioned hotel rooms on the camp grounds. That’s literally what they were. Hotel rooms, with vanity and shower and tub, and a big air conditioner under the window we kept CRANKED.
    My friend was diabetic and maintains it normally no problem. She had packed lots of extra snacks and stuff and the nurse and directors and everyone knew. But one night after practice she didn’t eat a snack before bed. When we woke up the next day, she was very lethargic and slow to respond and would not get out of bed. Drowsy, unfocused.. I tried to get to drink some water as she had run out of her juice boxes.. I tried to get her to eat something, but she really couldn’t get it to swallow. I knew it was her diabetes but I didn’t know just how bad it was. I kept trying for maybe 45 minutes, an hour and then I decide.. Shit ain’t right.. I need the nurse. The nurse was right below us and I went and knocked on her door and told her what was up.

    She instructed me to head to the mess hall, where the only land line phone was (Directors and helping parents had cellphones I’m sure but we were middle of BFE)and she would head up to my friend. I started to head over to the Mess hall through the wet grass and gravel barefoot. I’m about halfway there when the nurse runs out on the balcony shouting “SOMEONE CALL 911!” I then run across the gravel, portly and overweight little old me, huffing and puffing up this hill, scared to death, and run in to tell the camp cooks. I don’t remember much more except they kept me there and hearing later when everyone came in for lunch that the Directors and some parents (One of whom was an EMT) responded and that the Squad showed up shortly after.

    The day went by normally till Mid afternoon when the directors and the nurse returned. The nurse pulled me over during practice and hugged me tightly, telling me I had saved my friend’s life. She had gone into a diabetic seizure on the nurse and if I had waited longer, she might not have had such a good outcome. My friend didn’t attend the rest of bandcamp obviously, but came back to see us on the last night and I have a wonderful photo of us hugging. So.. I didn’t really call 911.. but I kinda called an emergency?

  32. Jess on November 4th, 2013 5:21 pm

    Had to call 911 when I was…10? 12? My mom and little sister had gone shopping and I was home with my dad who was mowing the lawn. He came in after a bit and was really sweaty and just didn’t look right. He laid down right on the floor and told me he just needed to rest. I knew something was wrong and kept asking if he was ok. He said yes but I knew he was lying. I found the yellow pages (!!!), looked up the number to the store my mom was at, asked to have her paged (which she IGNORED) so I could talk to her. I told my dad I was scared and he said if I called 911 he’d ground me. I pulled out the neighborhood directory to get the number of my moms best friend (she was a nurse), told her what was going on. She said she’d be right there. I hung up with her and called 911 anyway. Neighbor got there first, mom got home right after EMS took my dad to the hospital because he was having a heart attack. I didn’t get grounded and I still yell at my mom from time to time for ignoring the page!!

  33. Anne-Marie on November 4th, 2013 5:22 pm

    I’ve called 911 once. I was living alone, ground floor apartment, working night shifts as a nurse. This particular day I came home and fell asleep on the couch, waking up around 7:30pm (12 hour night shifts! No judging!). I was still pretty groggy and couldn’t figure out why someone was knocking on my back door. It opened out onto this little wooded area, so no one ever used it, and my porch light had been out for months, so I couldn’t see a darn thing when I peeked between the slats of the blinds. I’m pretty sure I said, “Hello?”. Definitely still half-asleep. That lasted until the person on the other side started begging me to let her in because “he’s going to kill me”. THAT woke me up in a hurry and I told whoever it was that I was calling 911. The operator had me asking questions of my mystery visitor while we waited for the cops to show up. The whole time she kept begging me to let her inside. Longest 8 minutes or so of my life. Once the cops arrived I opened the door and found this 20-something woman on my back patio with her ankles and wrists duct taped. She really had escaped from her abusive boyfriend and wound up bunny-hopping through the trees to my back patio…which she picked because she liked my patio furniture!

    Fast forward a year or so later and I got to testify at the trial of the abusive boyfriend. Sadly, I never found out how the trial ended. They let me leave after they played the tape of the 911 call and both lawyers asked me a few questions.

    After that I always picked apartments on the 2nd or 3rd story.

  34. Meg on November 4th, 2013 5:35 pm

    One time I was sitting at home when I heard an INCREDIBLY LOUD NOISE outside, and I ran out to find an SUV that had been hit broadside at the intersection and flipped over. I called 911, but I wasn’t the first one to do it, so the operator was like “Oh that. Yeah, we got it.” Nobody was hurt, except the SUV itself.

  35. Caleal on November 4th, 2013 5:54 pm

    Hmm. I’ve called 911 a bunch. Just recently like three days ago when someone threw a rock and broke my windshield while driving. One time someone was running down the road with a chainsaw terrorizing people on halloween. A few times when I’ve seen some fights. Car accidents. Probably more.

  36. Melissa on November 4th, 2013 6:20 pm

    A few years ago my son was scheduled for dental work in a town about an hour away from where we lived. When we woke up that morning it had snowed. I check the road report and it didn’t sound too bad so we headed out. Two miles after getting on the interstate a man comes running up out of the ditch waving his arms. Turns out he had rolled his truck with his three kids, wife and brother in truck. No one had seat belts and everyone was thrown out. I ran around checking on everyone for the dispatcher while my poor kids were sitting in the car. The brother of the driver had blood pouring down his face and so I had grabbed a towel from my car to hold over his cuts and sat him in the front seat to warm up and my son was completely terrified. I felt so bad to have my kids in the that situation but you can’t just drive away from hurt children.

  37. Jen on November 4th, 2013 6:34 pm

    I remember being maybe 7 or 8 and my grandma calling our house to ask me to call 911 for her because she was having a diabetic reaction of some sort. I remember thinking, “Why call to have ME do it when you could have called yourself…?” It was odd. But she was taken care of so I suppose it ended well.

  38. sooboo on November 4th, 2013 6:43 pm

    What an interesting prompt. I used to live off of a street filled with bars and my husband and I called 911 many, many times. Here are the memorable ones. I called once during the middle of the night when I heard a guy screaming “he’s killing me”. Once when I opened my front door and a guy was passed out on my porch. He was such a mess he couldn’t walk or talk. Oh and once when a drunk driver hit every car on our street and then face planted on our lawn. I’ve only called once in our new house when I heard what sounded like a guy beating a woman in the street, at night. I did see a guy hiding in our bushes one morning, but did not call. For some reason, he didn’t seem threatening to me. I also call in drunk drivers when I see them.

  39. Karen on November 4th, 2013 6:46 pm

    I called a few months ago when my two-year-old locked himself in my car in our west-facing garage our hot ass summer afternoon. A year ago I called while on a side street after I saw a couple get into a fight in their car. She tried to get out. He pulled her back in by her hair and slammed her door, then proceeded to speed off. I called 911 while trying to follow them so I could tell dispatch where they were. I was worried about the possibility of a child in the car. The windows where tinted so I couldn’t tell. I never did find out what happened.

  40. Charese on November 4th, 2013 7:09 pm

    Not connected to my work, I’ve called 3 times. Once when I was out with a friend, and we witnessed someone having some sort of cardiac incident. The second time, to report a drunk driver, the third when I saw a pedestrian stumbling in and out of traffic.
    I work in the outpatient mental health setting, and I’ve had to call for people who have disclosed that they have a plan to hurt themselves (or someone else) so that they can be evaluated by the police. Too many times to count, for that one, unfortunately.

  41. Amanda on November 4th, 2013 7:10 pm

    I called 911 when I was 14, because my friend had called me and told me that she was going to commit suicide, and that she had taken a bunch of pills. She didn’t want me to call but I told her that I loved her and I wasn’t going to let her do this, and that I was going to hang up and call 911. She said “okay,” and I did.

    I had to get her address out of our elementary school “phone book.”

  42. Kizz on November 4th, 2013 7:23 pm

    I’ve called several times for drunk, disorderly fights in the courtyard of my building. This winter I witnessed the start of a mugging and ducked around the corner out of sight to call 911. I was able to give enough information that the cops found the people and asked me to come ID them on the street. I got picked up in an unmarked car with three detectives in it and they drove me to the corner where the people were being held and they brought them out one by one into the light while I sat in the car behind tinted windows and talked about what I saw.

    I’ve called for traffic accidents while I’ve been on highways, too. While I was on tour we actually stayed on with the operator long enough to help state cops track down a really dangerous drunk driver.

    I don’t know that I remember each and every time I’ve done it but it is weird and sort of bad every time.

  43. Liz on November 4th, 2013 7:34 pm

    The one and only time, I called 911 on a kid in our classroom who was unrousable. We see many kids with medical issues, but I’ve never had to call 911 on any of THEM. He came in asleep off the bus, which isn’t unusual for little preschoolers, and he sleeps with his eyes open a slit (so. weird.), but there was just something about him that tweaked my antennae in his direction. None of the other adults in the room had medical experience, and I’ve worked in a hospital, which is probably the only reason I picked up on it–I’ve absorbed those sensitivities. Anyway, I did the sternal rub with almost no response (!!!), counted his breaths per minute, which were closer to an adult male’s rate than a young child’s, and called 911. It turned out he’d been overdosed on his ADHD meds, through no fault of his guardian. Oy. Vey. In all likelihood he would have slept it off and no one would have been the wiser, but I regret nothing. I think they picked up a (benign) heart murmur at this same ER visit, too. Crazy world. Now the kid who had the fire department out to his house multiple times per year for medical emergencies, HE had zero issues at school. Constant vigilance, as per Mad-Eye.

  44. Liz on November 4th, 2013 7:37 pm

    Oh, I guess I did call on a very loud domestic disturbance last year. The woman was saying things like “you’re scaring me”, so I called. By the time the cops drove around (less than 5 minutes), all was quiet. They were either walking home and were gone, or realized how loud they were and went inside. I’d been in my back yard, so I couldn’t see where they were.
    And then there was the time I called 911 from my bathroom at 2 a.m., to try to get the number for animal control because there was a bat loose in my apartment, I had a recently dislocated shoulder, and was too scared to go back out and grab the phone book. But I’m saving that for my someday stand-up routine.

  45. Mandy on November 4th, 2013 8:04 pm

    I’ve only called 911 once, when my then 7-week-old daughter had a seizure during a midnight feeding. Long story short, she’s fine and almost 4 now. But boy howdy, that was terrifying.

  46. Foodmomiac on November 4th, 2013 8:16 pm

    A few years ago, I woke up to walk the dog the morning after Halloween. It was a Monday, about 5:30am. I was in the kitchen making coffee and I heard a scream outside. I ran to the front of the house to look out the window and realized that it had been a “good” scream. There were two people, TOTALLY NAKED, having sex in a car in front of my house. My kids were about to wake up, and it was pretty rowdy, so I called 911. Apparently, if you have a real emergency and are concerned about response time, the thing to do is to say there are people having sex in front of your house. We had three cop cars there in less than three minutes. I don’t know what their story was, but they were totally wasted and she looked pretty damn hoochie. Not sure if she was actually a prostitute or was just dressed as one for Halloween! She was released and staggered away down our street in her stilettos. The dude was arrested and left behind a couple of six packs next to the car.

  47. Renee on November 4th, 2013 8:17 pm

    I called 911 once when my (now-ex) step-dad choked my mom during an argument. I was 15.

    It feels oddly refreshing to write that down.

  48. Anonymous on November 4th, 2013 8:33 pm

    Okay I’m going anon for this one because the car-sex people reminded me of it but it’s so embarrassing:

    I used to live in a really nice, family-friendly neighborhood and everyone on our block knew each other and we kinda looked out for one another. One night, it was drizzly and I noticed an unfamiliar car parked along a fence right across from our house. It was idling, I think the parking lights were on. Thought that was strange, and even stranger still when it was still there like 15-20 minutes later, still idling. Due to the drizzle I couldn’t see if or who was inside. I got paranoid that someone was casing our block or whatever so I called the police (I think I called the non-emergency number at least). Well, it was two teenagers either having sex or very close to it. We lived a mile from a high school! The cops pulled the girl out separately, it looked like they were making sure it was consensual. Both kids were obviously MORTIFIED. What a buzzkill! I felt so awful…

  49. Laura P. (I was Laura M. but got married!) on November 4th, 2013 8:33 pm

    Reading this, I realize that I have called 911 a fair amount. A few times over the years for hearing people screaming bloody murder outside my window. (I have lived in the city a bunch.)
    Once my mom called 911 for me. I was laying in the couch and swallowed a butterscotch candy whole before it had melted by any measure. It got stuck in my throat and hurt so bad. I lost my lunch in the kitchen sink. My mom was terrified and called. I swear four fire trucks and an ambulance showed up for little ol’ preteen me and my butterscotch. I’m still kind of scared of hard candies and have a habit of biting them in half.
    Another time I was riding along at night in a friends car. We were driving through a green light and noticed a car stopped at the intersection in the other lane. That same second we heard the whack! as another car rearended the stopped-for-no-reason car. We pulled over. I called. Friend got out to see if people were ok. I got over there a minute later and I think there was talk of trying to pull the stopped car driver out of the car and I was all “Noooooo! Leave him in the car. He might have injuries.” EMS came and we were on our way.

  50. Kelly on November 4th, 2013 8:45 pm

    I called once at my first house when drunk neighbors had a fight in their car in the middle of the street, he pushed her out of the (parked) car and she yelled for help.

    We called once after my husband and I were mugged at gunpoint two blocks from home.

    I don’t remember other times, but it’s possible. I was jumped years ago and, like an idiot, didn’t call police until the next day (after everyone I knew told me I really needed to), so I skipped the 911.

  51. Kami on November 4th, 2013 8:52 pm

    Yes! I called 911 when I was going through my divorce. At 2am I actually called and said “there is someone in my garage with a flashlight & I’am positive it’s YOUR LIEUTENANT”. Yep. Divorcing a cop is fun. A badge does not mean you have rights to stalk…sweet Jesus.

  52. Laura P. (I was Laura M. but got married!) on November 4th, 2013 8:53 pm

    p.s. There was also the time when I was at a pizza place and someone who worked there had a seizure. I think one of her coworkers knew that she had a seizure disorder. We sat her down and called 911. Amazingly people had no idea what to do so they started offering to do random crap. Does she need a glass of water? Should we put something in her mouth so she doesn’t bite her tongue? All while she is actively seizing. I had to say no to all their crazy offers of help. I felt like I had been transported back to the 1950’s when no one knew what to do for someone having a seizure. (Btw, call 911, get them safely to the ground so they don’t fall, let them move and move things out of their way, DON’T stick anything in their mouth!) I held her hand as she started to wake up. She was confused and asking what happened. I asked her if she had had seizures before. Yes. I let her know that she had had another one. She understood. I told her, as EMS was coming in, that help was here and in a minute it was going to get very loud with lots of people talking and asking her questions. I also told her that EMS would help her. Such a vulnerable situation to be in if someone has a seizure and no one knows what to do. In that case, well intentioned people trying to do _something_ can potentially cause harm.

  53. Shanee on November 4th, 2013 9:10 pm

    Oh man. a few years ago my hubby was diagnosed with sudden onset diabetes. He was going to have a medi al procedure done and had some tests. One showed a big blood sugar and the dr called at 11pm to say come to the hospital NOW. after a week stay he came home. Of course he was out of it and being newbies to diabetes we tried to be good. I had him on an eating schedule but we fell asleep from exhaustion and woke up when he should have been eating. I raced to the grocery store and came home and started to fix the food. I heard a strange sound that was him hitting the floor. Honestly my first thought was low blood sugar! I raced to him and he woke up. I started to take his sugar to see how much insulin to inject. He grunted for me to call 911 but it thought he was just being a pansy. Oops! After the 3rd time he yelled for me to call. I called. But it was soo hard. I just associated 911 with serious injury that resulted in blood or something. To this day he won’t let it to that I. Didn’t call right away! Hey it’s not my fault if he just looked to be passing out. It did turn out he passed a blood clot through his heart. Not frightening at all!

  54. Jackie M. on November 4th, 2013 9:25 pm

    I called 911 once while living in an apartment building in Chicago. My windows were open one evening and I heard someone calling for help over and over. So I called 911, told them what I heard and my address and that’s all I could tell them. Apparently a few other people heard the calls for help and called too.

    It turns out that a guy had got his head caught in the railing of his balcony, i.e. he had put his head through the railing and then couldn’t get it back out! I’m assuming alcohol was involved…..

  55. Lauren on November 4th, 2013 9:50 pm

    Besides the time I called out of curiosity as a kid (and got into a LOT of trouble with my parents), I’ve actually called probably a dozen times – usually just to report a road issue like a stranded motorist or an accident, but several times to report a domestic abuse situation that was happening in the apartment below mine in college, and a few times to call for help for dangerously intoxicated students (I work in college housing).

  56. Victoria on November 4th, 2013 9:53 pm

    Weirdly enough I feel like I have, but can’t for the life of me remember why.

    I also have dreams where I call and can’t get through or something.

    So maybe I just dreamed it? But I feel like I’ve actually called. Weird.

  57. Christen on November 4th, 2013 10:05 pm

    I’ve been present while others have made 911 calls quite a bit, on account of living with my grandparents when I was a kid. My grandpa had congestive heart failure, so the local fire department/paramedics were regulars at our house during various episodes.

    Worked for college campus police, and mostly had to back-up 911 calls made by others with additional info on where specifically we needed help on campus (ie “Enter through the East Gate, go to Bldg blahblah)

    Last spring my husband fell while running to first base and dislocated his shoulder AND broke his arm because: OVERACHIEVER. I saw the whole thing happen and freaked the fuck out when I saw him trip, fly through the air, land…and his arm was not right next to him. People made fun of me for calling 911, but I knew we needed to get to the ER, and that an ambulance would get him seen faster than if we walked in. Doc told me I did the right thing; he could have lost his arm completely or bled out.

  58. Erin on November 4th, 2013 10:27 pm

    Reading these brought back a time I had forgotten. Seems impossible to forget but…

    Scary: House alarm goes off at 2am after I hear distinct thud on downstairs door. Cops came, found nothing. Gave us a warning ticket for false alarm. WTF, cops?

    The One I Forgot: My husband pulled his back and couldn’t move. I attempted to piggyback my 200 lb Marine down flight of stairs. He slide/falls on me and then we both get stuck. I had cell in pocket. EMTs had lots of jokes.

  59. Chloe on November 4th, 2013 10:30 pm

    I called 911 when someone home-invaded our (drug dealer) neighbor’s house– but all I knew is I heard a woman screaming and gunshots. My boyfriend (now husband) quickly strapped on his kevlar vest, grabbed the shotgun, and went out the door (is this really my life?) (also, he’s a police). He was fine, the guys got away but got caught later. We’ve moved away from there now, thank goodness. I haven’t had to call 911 from here yet.

    He has called 911 a few times in my presence, but normally if he’s not running out the door with a gun I’d rather have him do it as he knows what information to give and is more practiced with dealing with physical emergency-type situations.

  60. Megan on November 4th, 2013 10:34 pm

    So some of these probably aren’t the best to read before bed!

    I recently called 911 for the first time when I saw a car drive through our culdesac with no headlights. The guy stopped at my neighbors and proceeded to go through all the cars. He took his sweet time so the cops caught him. What freaked me out was having to ID him in front of my own house! I’m still mad the cops had me do that but they swear he was so high on meth he won’t remember. Wouldn’t the police report have the address though?

  61. Laura on November 4th, 2013 11:14 pm

    I called once when I was 10 (at my mother’s instruction), when the propane tank on our grill exploded. It was on the back deck and nearly burned down our house.

  62. Anonymous on November 4th, 2013 11:45 pm

    I’ve called a few times. Once when someone had a seizure at the restaurant my husband and I were at. Once when I saw some dudes congregating – I suspected – for a dogfight. Once for a girl who’d crashed her car on the freeway (she was drunk). I think there were a few more…

  63. Kristi on November 4th, 2013 11:54 pm

    I had to call the ambulance (999 here) for my 10-month old daughter when she had a seizure and seemed to stop breathing. She was diagnosed with a febrile seizure (albeit one that presented unusually for someone her age) so no long-term harm done but I still watch her like a hawk whenever she has a fever since I never-ever want to go through that again.

  64. parodie on November 5th, 2013 3:10 am

    I’ve called once when there was someone walking up and down my (quiet, suburban) street screaming into a phone after midnight, and once (for the same person…) when there was a big fight next door. I’ve also called when I drove past a car broken down in the passing lane on the highway.

    Weirdest was when I found a used needle outside (yay big city). After going to the trouble of finding the non-emergency police number to ask what I should do about it, I was told I should just call 911, and when I did, they treated this as routine and a reasonable reason to call. I thought 911 was for emergencies only…

  65. Nic on November 5th, 2013 4:09 am

    I called 911 twice in the past year, and never before that. The first was when I was driving home from work, (night shift) and saw someone asleep at the wheel of his car at a stop light. I assumed that he was just sleeping or passed out after drinking and hesitated to call, after all he wasn’t driving drunk technically. I even thought about getting out of my car and knocking on his window, but then I thought, what the hell am I doing? If this guy has had a heart attack or a stroke or something serious what use am I going to be? So I called. The second time was on my upstairs neighbors. Lots of shouting and breaking glass which concerned me but when I heard a female voice screaming “You killed my baby!” that was it- I dialed. Turns out it was a random crazy woman had broken into my neighbors apartment and was throwing stuff and trying to beat up -and bite- my neighbor. She was restrained by the cops and my neighbor was hysterical. Turns out she had never seen this chick before, had no idea what her issue was, and didn’t know anything about a baby. So strange. I hope this year quiets down, I get so panicky having to call.

  66. Maria on November 5th, 2013 5:16 am

    I’ve called on the road for car accidents I witnessed twice, once for a man weaving and slumping over in his car on the interstate with a bottle in hand and recently when a drove by a young man assaulting a woman on my way to my son’s school. :( been fortunate never to call for the kids but my parents did for a choking incident. My son was fine by the time they came so he got to hang out in the fire truck.

  67. Maria on November 5th, 2013 5:18 am

    Oh yeah in college I called on a guy beating up his girlfriend in the parking lot too -_-

  68. Chris C. on November 5th, 2013 5:39 am

    I actually just had to call a couple days ago, when there was a big car crash right outside our house. We live on a country road, and the neighbor was parked out there installing a new mailbox. A very elderly lady came tearing down the road in a huge SUV and crashed right into the neighbor’s truck, pushed it 30 feet down the road before stopping, etc. Luckily, the neighbor wasn’t near the truck at the time, but the driver was totally non-responsive (in shock, I think), by the time I got out there. Calling 911 in our tiny town is not exactly efficient, either. First you get connected to dispatch, who has to figure out whether it’s the state police or the county sheriff covering your address that day. Then, you talk to the police and give them your info all over again, and then you get given BACK to dispatch who talks you through immediate assistance / gets more details / etc. It’s kind of a mess!

  69. Alyssa on November 5th, 2013 6:56 am

    I called 911 when I was 8 and my 12 year old sister was having an awful, screaming fight with my parents. She told me she’d never see me again, and then ran away from home. My Dad followed her out the door, and my Mom went bananas when I tried to ask her what was happening.

    They were PISSED that I had called at first, but then later took me out for pancakes and apologized.

    Man, I will never forget that night.

  70. Alison on November 5th, 2013 7:14 am

    Unfortunately, yes. Our first son was born 4 weeks early and was under 5 lbs. He choked on formula around 5 a.m. at about 3 weeks old. The rest of the day he continued to become very lethargic and pale. My husband had to call 911 and they took him my ambulance to the hospital. He was there for a week. It was awful and terrifying. He’s a happy and healthy 5 y/o old now though!!

  71. Debra on November 5th, 2013 7:19 am

    A few years ago, I was looking out the back window and I saw three NAKED boys climbing on a car and chasing each other around in the street. It was 43 degrees outside and I know I called the police, but I can’t remember if I dialed 911 or the nonemergency number.

  72. briscogirl on November 5th, 2013 7:33 am

    In February of this year I was at a shopping plaza. When I parked my car I noticed something moving in the car I had parked next to. Upon existing my car I realized there was a toddler (maybe 2 years old), in his car seat, windows cracked. The car was not running and it was 30 degrees outside. I took a deep breath and went in to do my business (which I now beat myself up for), and 25 minutes later the toddler was still in the care unattended. I called 911 and reported it and waited until the police arrived. When the officer walked up to the car the toddler reached out his little hand to the window. The officer said “It’s ok little Buddy, I’m gonna help you.” I literally broke down in tears. How on earth could somone do that?????? He was in that car unattended for at least 35 minutes that I was aware of, who knows how much longer!

  73. Daisy on November 5th, 2013 7:37 am

    I’ve called quite a few times…I’ve lived in snowy areas and called to report watching a car go off the side of the road (typically at a low rate of speed, but still a nice thing to do I think, make sure a truck is sent out to help them), once for a car accident I was in…and then probably a dozen times living in downtown Chicago? Unfortunately you get transferred to 911 for a lot of “minor” things so I’ve ended up calling to report suspicious activity on a street corner (drug deals, whoo!) an altercation outside of a nearby pub, etc.

  74. Daisy on November 5th, 2013 7:39 am

    Oh and once in college, in New Orleans…a guy was beating in a truck window in a parking lot with a PROPANE TANK. That just seemed like a bad, bad idea.

  75. Jessi on November 5th, 2013 8:02 am

    I witnessed a horrible accident on a Chicago freeway. Called 911.

    I lived alone in a basement apartment and when I got home late one night, my door was open. Walking down my stairs was scary enough with a creepy open space to the right of my door, that I was terrified and called. Thankfully, I lived in a very, very uneventful neighborhood that I had 2 cops show up in less than 2 minutes. (Verdict: I left my door open and they checked it out for me and said, yes, that basement was scary.)

    I saw a man passed out? dead? on the side of a freeway on-ramp with his walker tossed next to him. It was in an industrial area so he could have been homeless. Totally called 911.

  76. Shawna on November 5th, 2013 8:10 am

    I’ve called 911 several times: mostly for fires and car accidents. I called for the latter last week actually.

    I also called the fire department directly once for a smoke-filled apartment, but I’d already gone into it, removed the pan that had been left on the stove to the front lawn, and checked for the little old lady who lived there (she had gone out and left her lunch on the stove). Since there was no danger of actual flames or an unconscious victim at that point, I didn’t call 911. In hindsight I probably should have.

    I’ve been very lucky though, that all my 911 calls have been for other people’s emergencies. The only one that was my own I was too busy dowsing flames as part of a bucket brigade from our kitchen sink (porch on fire), and someone else called.

  77. cindy w on November 5th, 2013 8:13 am

    I’ve had to call a couple of times, but the main one I remember was when my daughter was only a couple months old, and a woman showed up at our house at 3 a.m. asking for help. My (now ex) husband let her in our house, and to this day I have no idea why he let her in. I had the baby upstairs and I called 911, even though I could hear the woman downstairs saying that she just needed to sleep and to please not call the police.

    Turned out that she was very drunk and had crashed her car into a ditch about a mile down the road from our house. How she ended up at our front door, I have no idea. But the 911 operator was very kind and stayed on the phone with me until the police arrived. Then the officer took her away (not sure where). It wouldn’t have been that big a deal under most circumstances, but for the post-partum crazy lady with a tiny baby, it was terrifying and really shook me up.

    Oh, and of course this happened on March 31st, so when I tried to tell people about it the next day, they all thought I was making an April Fool’s Day joke.

  78. mrspooley on November 5th, 2013 9:45 am

    I called 911 on my neighbors. I wasn’t working after my son was born and was able to watch all the neighborhood comings and goings. There was one guy who would park in our alley, cross our yard, to our neighbors, then head back to his car minutes later, on a regular basis. One time a lady followed him back to his car, obviously fighting with him, crying. She didn’t want him to leave and tried to wrap the seat belt around her arm so he couldn’t drive off. He was pretty upset with her too and I was scared he’d just drag her behind him. Eventually they just separated and each went their way (of course, long before any cop arrived) but it was very intense. I was shaking the whole time I was on the phone and for quite a while afterwards.

  79. Michaela on November 5th, 2013 10:01 am

    I’ve read (and loved) your blog since before you had Riley and never commented but I have a good 911 story so…
    I was 37 weeks pregnant with my second and my water broke at 3:30 in the morning and woke me up. I wasn’t completely sure that was what happened so I waited about 20 minutes to make sure I was having contractions (I was) before waking my husband and calling my mom to come watch my son. As we were waiting for my mom to show up the contractions got closer and closer and I was screaming in pain and my husband ran across the street to get our neighbor to come over but their doorbell was broken and they didn’t wake up! When he got back I screamed at him to call 911 but he didn’t want to. I refused to get in the car with him so he finally agreed and they showed up 3 minutes later to my naked ass in the air in my living room while my husband was trying to protect the new rug with towels. I made it as far as the ambulance in my driveway before insisting that like it or not, that baby was coming out–and she did, all 8 lbs of her! She was greeted by 5 very surprised firefighters and EMTs but not her dad. He was standing on the driveway with my mom, who had finally showed up.
    In the end, we were all fine. My daughter continues to be a tornado of intensity who runs the house and yes, we still had to pay for the delivery!

  80. Melissa on November 5th, 2013 10:22 am

    We were grocery shopping at the local Hy-Vee (Iowa) and we brought our stuff to the car, along with our toddler at the time. A young guy walked up to us, holding his chest, hand a bit bloody and asked if he could borrow our phone to call 911. My husband called 911, made the guy sit down with his head between his knees. He’d been stabbed in the parking lot by some not-so-great friend of his, high school or college age would be my guess. Cops came and ambulance, we told what we saw/knew and that’s it. My fear was just my little girl in the car and my husbands fear was that he’d touch the car with his bloody hands. He kept telling him to sit down, don’t touch the car :) He was fine, non-lethal stab wound.

  81. Jenna on November 5th, 2013 10:24 am

    I called 911 exactly once, when I was showing my then 6 yr old how to dial it and meant to just touch (NOT PRESS) the line 1 button to complete the call. I hung up immediately, didn’t even think it rang.

    Until 2 minutes later when three fire trucks came screaming down our street to save us from … me.

  82. esssp on November 5th, 2013 10:51 am

    i actually *answer* 911 on occasion…most of the time it is the wrong number! if anyone is wondering, it makes life easier on the dispatcher if you can tell them WHAT is happening and WHERE (although most of the time they already know where you are calling from, they may just want to confirm it). those are the two most critical pieces of information needed; the dispatcher can talk you through the rest of it once they know those two things. often they can start sending police/fire/EMS before they are finished talking to you on the phone.

  83. anonymous on November 5th, 2013 10:51 am

    First time I called was when a couple of friends of mine and I were walking to a bar and I happened to notice an odd flickering light in a house we were passing. It was on fire. This was before the era of cellphones so we had to go to the bar, convince the bartender to let us use the phone and then call. Fire trucks showed up, they put out the fire and as it turned out the fire had only just started so they were able to save the house. No one was home, so I can’t say that my actions even indirectly saved anyone.

    Second time was when a guy forced another guy off the road in front of where I lived in college and then started trying to kill him with a baseball bat. Had to run inside and call – he ended up with two broken arms and a broken leg and a busted up head.

    After that I lived in West Philly – so we would call for gunshots, the neighbors leaving their toddlers outside in the winter, the neighbors beating their kids, etc.

    More recently I’ve called for people who appeared to be driving while intoxicated. I called for a guy walking on the side of a highway late at night (no car in sight and with essentially no shoulder on the road) and had this amazing conversation where I told the operator the mile marker and she said, “We don’t use mile markers.” and I just about lost it. She wanted an exit number and the name of the town – luckily my husband knew that info. But if we had been from out of town … no idea why they don’t use mile markers.

    When the super for our building was beating up his girlfriend for having a guy’s number on her phone.

    When our place was broken into by another building employee – who was at that point being chased by other people who lived there and tried to escape back into our apartment while we were on the phone with the police.

    This list is too long. We recently moved to a slightly safer area and a much better building. Hoping not to have another reason for a long long time.

  84. Maureen on November 5th, 2013 11:18 am

    I’ve called twice-once when I lived in the country-I was driving home, and saw an overturned car in a corn field. The driver was fine, but very drunk.

    Second time, I heard cries from next door-went outside to see a toddler hanging out of a second store window-probably 30 feet off the ground. I still shudder when I think of it-I started screaming for help, tried to climb the fence separating our properties-couldn’t get over-ran to get the phone. When I ran back out, she was gone. I thought I had gone crazy until a woman came out with the little girl in her arms. She talked to the 911 operator-the little girl had actually fallen, but the soft dirt below the window cushioned her fall. While the mother was using my phone to talk to the 911 operator, another woman came out and they started arguing over whose fault it was that the window was open with no screen. It was really awful, and I will never forget trying to get over that tall fence, seeing her hanging there, and not being able to reach her. The ambulance came, and honestly the women seemed more concerned over fighting than what happened to the little girl. It was very disturbing.

  85. sara on November 5th, 2013 11:30 am

    I’ve had to several times… Once in college when a drunk neighbor kicked in my bedroom door and sprayed clamato all over my room (long stupid story), once after witnessing a terrible car accident on my way to work, once when a couple of teenage boys were driving way too fast (like 50) in our subdivision and whipped a u turn in front of my house (yes, at the ripe old age of 31 I am that neighbor) and once I called and said it was a non emergency but our streets were in severe need of salt and were a hazard. Side note on that last one: that night on my way home we slid off the road and I broke my ankle and my husband broke his hip.

    And in grade school I called 911 from the payphone at school on a dare. I just hung up when they answered but when they called back a passing teacher answered and I got busted. ….

    Sheesh, that’s a lot and Im not even sure that’s it. One time my car was broken into and one time I hit a deer… But I truly don’t recall if I called for those.

  86. bessie.viola on November 5th, 2013 11:43 am

    I’ve called 911 twice – both times from my office, which is in a not-awesome neighborhood. Once because the fire hydrants had been opened by neighborhood kids and the whole city was on water restriction because it was so dry, and once because the fire hydrant was open AGAIN and the kids where chucking full water bottles and whatever else they could find at passing cars. I was PISSED when my windshield got nailed, so nope, not really scared, just irritated/angry.

  87. Angela on November 5th, 2013 12:27 pm

    I/we have called 911 several times, in part because the non-emergency number in our area boots over to 911 automatically after hours and on weekends. We just called them the other day to report people driving past the “Road Closed” sign by the tree that had fallen and taken out power lines (idiots). The first time I ever called, though, was because we heard a really loud screaming match between two people in the house two doors down. It was abusive and scary and we just knew. Satisfyingly, not one, not two, but THREE WSP cars pulled up just as the guy slammed his front door, got into his car and tried to leave. I felt good about that.

  88. Megan on November 5th, 2013 12:30 pm

    I’ve called at least twice. Once when I was in a car accident. Another just recently when my dad basically overdosed in front of me and my three young children. He was having very intense back spasms and decided to take quadruple the amount of oxycodone and muscle relaxants. Good thing I called because not only did he pass out several times, but his heart almost stopped beating and they had to give him epinephrine. I was so scared calling that I couldn’t really even remember what county I was in when they asked (it was a multi-county 911). What I have discovered is that when there is an emergency, I sort of become paralyzed and yell for someone else to do something.

  89. Jessica V. on November 5th, 2013 12:56 pm

    I called 911 once when a small plane crashed into the backyard of the house behind mine. I was hosting a baby shower in my own backyard (back to back yards) so there were 40 girls just a few yards from the crash.

  90. H on November 5th, 2013 1:33 pm

    In high school, some of my classmates set our family car on fire (my dad was a teacher, it was directed at him) while the car was parked on the street. The police called our house and I answered. The lady told me our car was on fire, so I looked in the garage at the car that was NOT on fire and told her it wasn’t. She insisted it was, and then I realized which car she meant. She told me the fire trucks were on their way. So that was kind of the reverse, when 911 called me.

    Two years ago, my husband called for me because I’d been out riding my bicycle near a farm field and was enveloped in a cloud of anhydrous ammonia. (A farmer was spraying his field and the cloud rolled toward me and I had no way to avoid it.) I felt fine but the fire department came to check me out (I waited in the driveway) just in case. We weren’t sure if it was smart to put me in the car to go to the ER because I might contaminate others.

    One Friday night, my husband surprised some kids trying to steal the catalytic converter from under our car that was parked in the garage! I called 911 while he chased them, and lost them. He claims he couldn’t catch them because he didn’t tie his shoes before he took off running. We think perhaps the 40 year age difference was a factor. :)

    When my son was 16, he hit a deer on the interstate and the car was stalled, at dusk, in the middle of a lane. I have no idea why I didn’t tell him to call 911 but I did even though I was 20 miles away.

    The most horrible and frightening situation was when I called because my daughter stopped breathing when she was 6 days old. I was feeding her a bottle and noticed she was unusually still (took me a bit to realize her chest wasn’t moving) and the area around her mouth was blue/gray. I screamed, handed her to my husband and I called 911. We’d taken infant CPR classes in the hospital a week before but it didn’t even occur to us to do CPR until the 911 operator asked me if we knew how to do it. I told him to, he did, our daughter started to cry and the operator said the emergency crews were on the way but that the baby was now breathing. I argued with her that my baby was NOT breathing and she said she is if she’s crying! DUH! Then she wanted to keep me on the line until the police showed up and I told her I had to get off the phone to put a shirt on because I was in my bra and a pair of shorts! Our daughter was diagnosed with sleep apnea and wore an apnea monitor for 2 years. At that point, she still failed the tests but they said she was not going to die from it (it was likely her normal breathing pattern) and we had to give up the monitor. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. That was August 1991 and she’s a healthy 22 year old today. A funny part of this story is that our son was 3 years old at the time and we completely forgot he was even in the house while the emergency crews were there. They left and he came over to me to show me the police dog card he’d gotten from one of the officers and that’s when I remembered him!

    Finally, I have recurring nightmares that a plane will crash and I witness it, so I try to call 911 and I simply cannot. I can only dial 9-9-1. I do it over and over, 9-9-1, 9-9-1, etc. The planes, crash sites and circumstances are different in every dream but the 9-9-1 scenario repeats itself. I’d love to know what that means.

  91. Christy on November 5th, 2013 2:00 pm

    I’ve called 4 times:

    1) Bar fight.
    2) Deer wanting to run onto the highway.
    3) Following a trailer in pitch-black that I couldn’t see at all (trailer had no lights and was larger than the truck pulling it).
    4) To get the number for animal control. Bitey pitpull escaped his fencing and was going after our dogs.

  92. Jo on November 5th, 2013 2:18 pm


    Once when I was robbed at my job as a teenager

    Once when I could not locate my toddler in my house (kid had crawled into bed, and fell asleep under the covers) – It was TERRIFYING.

  93. M.A. on November 5th, 2013 3:24 pm

    I didn’t actually make the call, but my Dad did. I was 13 and my Mom had had a stroke. I had retreated to the family room in the back of the house while they were getting my Mom ready for her one-way trip to the hospital. A very kind Fireman sought me out. Here suddenly was this huge, hulking, fully suited guy, leaning over the couch where I thought I would never be discovered, and he said to me “Honey, your Mom is going to be okay.” I was completely scrambled — an uncooked omelette — but I’ll never forget how comforting those words were. He said exactly what I needed to hear at that time. Have often wanted to seek him out to thank him.

  94. Jenn on November 5th, 2013 3:34 pm

    I’m a dispatcher and I am answering 911 calls today, so this was fun to read. :)

    The first time I called 911, I was probably about 5 and called “just to see what would happen.” I swear the first thing they said to me was “What is your mother’s name?” I’m sure they must have said something else, but that was the first thing I heard. I panicked and hung up and then, of course, they called back.

    I called several times at my last job when the nurse had someone go to the hospital (not recommended, by the way… have someone near the patient, or who actually knows ANYTHING about the situation, call so that the dispatcher can get info!), but as of yet, have not had to call for an emergency of my own.

    When I had to call off work when my cat had a veterinary emergency, I was grateful that my coworkers are 911 dispatchers cause I fell apart and probably noone else would have been able to decipher my call lol Apparently I can deal with your emergencies, but not mine!

  95. Sundry on November 5th, 2013 3:45 pm

    God, everything you guys are sharing is so fascinating! And would you believe JB finally remembered one of his previous emergency calls — it was during a dive trip when a woman DIED. She (horribly, tragically, accidentally) DIED UNDERWATER, and he and the other people had to find her and bring her back on the boat and try fruitlessly to resuscitate her and they had a Coast Guard helicopter escort the boat back to shore and holy shit who forgets that? Like, ever?

  96. Becky Mochaface on November 5th, 2013 3:57 pm

    I’ve had to call 911 twice. Once when I saw a car on the highway drive up the median wall and flip in the air. The second time was when my husband, who is type 1 diabetic, had a low so bad overnight and we had nothing in the house to bring his blood sugar back up. Very scary.

  97. Heather on November 5th, 2013 5:11 pm

    OK, I start this story by saying that my son G was fine, was never NOT fine and is still FINE! If I don’t do that, people clutch their chests midway through the story.

    I was out with my daughter on a Saturday and my husband took G to his soccer game — he must have been 7 years old. I came home from my errands and my husband said that G was in the shower. I asked how the game went. It went OK. G got hit in the head with a ball once and went down. But he got back up. He seemed a bit dazed and came up more slowly than he usually does, but he played the rest of the game. In some part of my brain I registered that he usually bounces back up like a Weeble but it was the back of my brain.

    I was home for a while when I realized that I HAD been home a while and hadn’t said hello to G who was still in the shower. I walked into the bathroom. I see my son, lying on his back on the shower floor, arms and legs akimbo, eyes closed.

    I screamed and ran to the kitchen to dial 911. I got the operator and explained that my son was unconscious in the shower and that he had been hit in the head. I was giving her our address when my son appears in the kitchen doorway, drying off. I stammered something to 911 and hung up.

    My son looks at me and says “Gee, you run fast. You came in the bathroom and I looked up to say hello but you were gone already.” Seems my son like to lie on the shower floor and let the water hit him like rain!

    I burst into tears and sank to the floor. By the time I was able to explain to G why I was crying, he was crying as well.

    The coda to the story? When I went flying to the kitchen, my husband went running the other way to the bathroom. He was wearing socks on a slippery wood floor so he grabbed a door jamb to swing himself quickly around a corner. Turns out, he tore almost every single ligament in his thumb when he did it! Everyone’s adrenaline was so high that he never felt the pain. When he realized, days later, that his hand was not working properly, the hand specialist said that it was likely already too late for the hand to heal on its own — it would likely require surgery! Luckily, that wasn’t the case….

  98. Sonja on November 5th, 2013 5:54 pm

    I’ve called 911 numbers of times for brush fires in Eastern WA and for hitchhikers standing in very dangerous areas of the freeway and appeared to be mentally in need of help (think rocking back and forth and talking to themselves while standing on the side of I-5 or I-405)…

    But the scariest time was about a year and a half ago when I had to call when my one year old was having a seizure. It turned out to be a febrile seizure which apparently isn’t a huge deal (paramedics didn’t transfer him to the hospital at all afterward) but it was the worst and scariest moment of my whole life.

  99. Michelle on November 5th, 2013 10:28 pm

    I have called 911 a few times for other people. Usually car accidents. I called once because there was a woman parked on the on-ramp to the highway begging people for money with two little kids in the car. They were blocking the road and could have easily been hit by a car. I also called when I saw a guy who was either asleep or dead in the driveway to my parking garage. I think the 911 operator thought I was crazy when I said there was a guy was lying in the driveway blocking the entrance to the parking garage. When I was around 10, my gramma called 911 because my aunt was having a pregnancy related emergency, she ended up being ok.

  100. Lawyerish on November 6th, 2013 7:53 am

    I have had 911 called FOR ME twice, once when I fainted at work and came to with my whole left side numb, so I thought I was having a stroke. Seriously, my memory of it is that like ten super-hot FDNY paramedics came, but it was not a very fun time because I barfed on myself on the way to the ER. And in the end, it was just one of my usual fainting episodes (no stroke, thankfully).

    The other time, I started to have a migraine and I couldn’t speak or think clearly — so again, fear of stroke. Evidently, it was instead just a wacky form of migraine. I didn’t go to the hospital, but the medics were super nice and I kind of wanted to hug them when they left.

    I also called 911 once myself, because out of my office window I could see that a building nearby was on fire. Turned out no one had reported it before I did!

  101. Lawyerish on November 6th, 2013 7:56 am

    Oh, I just remembered another time! In college, I had a roommate who had been living with this guy for a while but she had broken up with him. Well, one night a few of us were hanging out in our ground-floor apartment and he just APPEARED IN OUR WINDOW and was drunkenly screaming at her and being threatening. So we called 911, and he ran, and eventually the cops caught him a few blocks away and that was kind of the end of it.

  102. H on November 6th, 2013 9:06 am

    JB’s story is unreal! How DID he forget to mention that?!

  103. Kristen on November 6th, 2013 9:21 am

    Yes, yes I have and it was terrifying. My son, the reason for the call, is fine. I am crying as I type. We had sat down one night, a few weeks before Christmas, in a rush to have a late dinner. My husband and I were rushing around because our daughter had been to riding lessons that evening and we were trying to get the kids fed, bathed and ready for bed. We were having hot dogs. I NORMALLY would ALWAYS cut up my son’s hot dog into tiny pieces. Well, in my STUPID rush I didn’t. We were eating and talking and our son laughed at something and then just stopped. He had a look of complete panic on his face that I will never forget. I jerked him up and started slapping his back in hopes to dislodge the hot dog. His lips started turning blue. Nothing has happening and he was starting to go limp. I was screaming at my husband to dial 911, but he just stood there. My daughter flew through the house and ran to her bedroom and slammed the door. I grabbed the phone and dialed 911. They were so calm asking me for my name, location, emergency. I was screaming at them that I needed instructions for the Heimlich maneuver. It seemed like I was on the phone with them for hours. I have no idea how long passed…I had walked outside in hopes to hear the sirens coming to help me help my son. We live on a farm and have a long driveway. I was afraid that they would not be able to find us…ends up they couldn’t. I pleaded with them to tell me how to preform the Heimlich maneuver on my son. They kept asking me if he was breathing and I kept telling them no! What seemed like hours later, my husband came to the front door to tell me that the hot dog was out. He had remembered as a child that he swallowed a penny and his father had grabbed his ankles and turned him upside down and the penny had fallen out. He did the same thing to my son and saved his life. The ambulance made it to my house 17 minutes later. We have since put up large reflective address numbers at the top of our driveway. They wanted to come check him out and make sure he was okay. My son was petrified and didn’t want them to touch him or come in the house. I realized at that moment that 911 can’t save you. You have to learn CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, etc to help your children or family. I remember staring at the Christmas tree and thinking how different Christmas could have been.

  104. Di on November 6th, 2013 11:18 am

    I had to call 911 once at the park, witnessing a sort of domestic altercation between two men, a woman and someone’s daughter.

    And I called just Sunday, to report a traffic barracade wrongly blocking traffic on a crowded highway

  105. pdxhadey on November 6th, 2013 12:10 pm

    I really had to think about this one for a bit, but I think I’ve called 911 (on purpose) 4 times in my life.

    When I was 12 or 13 I was babysitting my neighbor’s kids (I think they were about 2 & 4 at the time), and my older brother was at the house with me playing with the kids. He was giving the younger one a “horsey back ride” when she fell off his back and landed flat on her back on the floor. I picked her up to see if she was OK and she passed out and went limp. I was absolutely terrified and called 911. Turns out she just had the wind knocked out of her and she fainted, but OMG, that was the worst experience ever.

    I called 911 twice in high school when my best friend (who had epilepsy) had a grand mal seizure at my house on 2 separate occasions. She hadn’t had one since she was a baby, so it was never anything that crossed my mind, but it was absolutely terrifying. After all was said and done she didn’t even remember what happened, but I’ll never forget it.

    A few years ago I made the call when a car driving a few car lengths in front of me lost control of his car and slammed into a telephone pole.

  106. Anonymous on November 6th, 2013 5:06 pm

    I was in 7th grade and was babysitting three kids with an older friend. The older two were probably 4 and 2 and the baby was 4 months. The parents were going to another town about an hour away. Cell phones weren’t around yet. The baby had a cough, but nothing serious. After we fed the older kids, the baby started coughing. She kept coughing and coughing and she turned red as she kept coughing. She quit and turned blue and wasn’t breathing. I flipped her over on my lap and slapped her back and she coughed and started crying. I was obviously relieved, but it was pretty unnerving. I told my friend that if it happened again, she needed to call 911. Well, it did. And she was freaking out and wouldn’t call. It was just a second that she stopped, but a second was too long for me. She begged me not to call, and I’ll never understand that. My sister’s boyfriend’s mom was a paramedic and so I got the friend to let me call her. I told her what was going on and she agreed that we should call 911 if it happened again. I double checked how to perform CPR on a baby and thanked her for her help. Not much later…yeah. The baby wasn’t breathing and was turning blue. I firmly told the friend to call 911 as I started CPR. She called her parents! She was screaming and crying and her parents headed out to where we were but told her to call 911. She finally did , but was in such a tizzy, she couldn’t tell them where we were or what was happening. Meanwhile, I got the baby breathing again and grabbed the phone to tell them where we were and what was happening. A cop showed up and radioed in that we needed the paramedics. When they arrived, the baby seemed just fine and her lungs sounded clear. I felt like maybe I had been overly dramatic as they’re telling me there’s nothing wrong. Then the baby coughed and coughed and did her turn-blue-and-quit- breathing thing right there for the nice paramedics. They got things going right away and just then, the father comes rushing in the door. I will never forget the look of fear on his face. They took the baby to the hospital which was in the town they’d just gotten back from and they ended up flying her to a hospital hours away from there. Whooping cough. About a year ago, I ran into the family while they were dropping off their daughter for college. I nearly cried when I saw her and remembered that experience. She’s perfectly fine now, but I don’t go anywhere without my babies now until they are at least six months old and even then, I’m a nervous wreck. My husband curses my babysitting days! ;)

    When I was probably 14, the little girl next door crashed on her bike. No helmet, loopy, and she had blood coming out her ear. My mom stayed with her while I called 911 and her mom came out and was mad at us for calling them (though she didn’t answer the door when my brother ran to tell her). She was fine and had just gotten cut inside her ear.

    I was probably 8 when the hunky teenage boys across the street were riding around in the back of a truck. The driver took the corner turn too fast and the older boy fell out the back. Called 911 for that. He got a trip to the ER but was fine.

  107. Jana on November 6th, 2013 8:42 pm

    So, no one else has had the problem I had? I called 911 from my cell phone for goats on the highway (??!) and it was busy. Not even, “please hold for next available operator.” Just a recorded message saying to try again later. WTF? I mean, it was just goats, but if I was having a heart attack that is not what I would want to hear.

  108. H on November 6th, 2013 9:21 pm

    Anonymous at 5:06 p.m.: What a frightening experience! Thank goodness you handled it as well as you did.

  109. agirlandaboy on November 7th, 2013 11:05 pm

    Most recently I called 911 when two guys stopped their car in front of my house and got out and screamed at each other with such fury that, given this area of Oakland, I was sure would end in gunfire. As soon as the operator picked up, they got back in and drove away.

    My husband calls 911 about crazy drivers, drunk drivers, drivers smoking weed, drivers yanking (just yesterday!), and mattresses in the middle of the road, that sort of thing. He’s Mr. Safety.

  110. Amanda on November 14th, 2013 7:21 pm

    I turned 34 this year and called 911 for the first time. 3 times. Sort of.

    The first was terrifying. While playing a game with my 5yo, I noticed my 20mo son, who had been playing with his blocks in the next room, was very quiet. I went to check on him, but could not find him. He had sneaked out the side door to go swing on the porch earlier, leaving the door ajar, but for some reason I checked the back deck where the door was closed just as it should have been. The deck leads to our pool where he was floating. I screamed, jumped in and pulled him out. He was unconscious, a little blue. I did chest compressions and he spit up water and vomit and started moaning. I ran into the house and called. I yelled what happened and our address, then had to stop and calm my screaming daughter so that I could hear the operator’s instructions.

    The ambulance came amazingly quick. By then he was still lethargic, but actually crying. At the hospital they did x-rays and warmed him up, then sent us to the children’s hospital in the city (we’re in a rural area 45 miles out) for overnight observation. By the next morning truly you would never have known anything happened, he was so completely back to normal. So much so that I began to think maybe I overreacted and he had just been knocked out when he slipped into the pool, but had luckily floated face up and not been “drowning.” I don’t know that I will ever be able to think of it without feeling sick and guilty and terrified that I can’t protect him.

    The other two times… did you know that if you push the OnStar button to report a minor accident with no injuries, regardless of whether you are involved or just a witness, they will connect you with a 911 operator? Within two weeks of my son’s accident I backed into someone’s car in a restaurant parking lot. Then a month later approaching the more congested part of the interstate on the way to work, a truck driver rear-ended a car. I could see the lady and the driver were both okay, but I started shaking as I explained the accident to the operator. At work all I could say was, “That’s three times in two months after more than 30 years of nothing. This is crazy.”

  111. Brooke on November 14th, 2013 10:07 pm


    Once, the school across the street from our house caught fire. It was a little fire, and it was summer. But it WAS summer, so no one but me was around to see it. Lord-a-mercy, the whole fires department showed up. My daughter was crying because she thought the fire would come to our house (she was like, 2 then), and the neighbor was fretting that there were all these firemen and she hadn’t even done her hair. :-)

    The next time was less fun. My Dad, his wife, and the six of my family were all at a nearby park. It adjoins a neighborhood and a lot of open space. We were all sitting around talking, when a boy of about…six? wandered into view. No one was with him, nor calling from afar. He walked right up to us, took my Dad’s hand, and pulled him to the swings. My Dad put him in a swing and pushed him and told me I ought to call 911. So I called, feeling bad that I hadn’t much information to give them. The kid seemed autistic; he didn’t speak to us at all, but was trusting and happy. So the 911 operator says, Oh, hold on, I have a missing child report and let me compare details. So I told her what the kid was wearing, about how old, hair, and all that. She says that’s the kid and that the police will be there shortly with his mother. Oh, my God, I still cry about this and it’s been about 5 years. That woman came running from the police car, pulled her son from the swing and just squeezed him. As a mom, as a human, I was so happy for her and could totally empathize with her overwhelming relief. The police told us that the boy was autistic and lived in an adjoining neighborhood. He came to this park often with his family and had just wandered up here on his own. I was so glad to be a part of finding him, and so glad that it had been us, and not some total creeper, who had found him and kept him busy while we waited for the mom to come.

  112. Jem on November 23rd, 2013 6:26 am

    Ooh fascinating stories! My favourite was the one with the guilty cat.

    I’ve called so many times I can barely remember! Like many others, my first time was as a little kid…our number in NZ is 111 and I was trying to press the 1 number and it didn’t sound like it was working so I accidentally pressed it 3 times without thinking.

    Sometimes for little things like someone walking down the motorway. Once because someone was tailgating me at really high speeds to the point I couldn’t brake because they would’ve hit me…they were targeting me, and all the other lanes were empty. They were so close behind me I couldn’t even see their license plate at the time. As soon as they stopped I pulled over and called.

    Once for finding a guy unconscious on a street with his head in the line of traffic…I just remember it took forever to find my phone in my bag. I directed some other passer-bys to help move him off the road and I put him in the recovery position, which is where I learnt that if you’re going to put someone in the recovery position, explain to them what you’re doing, because otherwise they’ll start moaning angrily.

    Once because I was downstairs at home with my Mum upstairs. It was 3am during school holidays and I suppose they thought on one was home and we’d left the light on while on holiday. I heard a huge noise upstairs and froze. I tiptoed to the stairway and called out to Mum, who didn’t know what it was either. It occurred to me I’d heard a car idling outside 5 minutes earlier but hadn’t thought much of it. We peeked and they were still outside. Flicked the lights on and off and they drove off. Found eggs and a rock in our yard the next morning so they were testing to see if anyone was home. My Mum worked night shifts so I was so glad she was home – otherwise I would have presumed there was someone upstairs (due to how the noise sounded) and run outside. We called the police the next morning because we didn’t know what had happened at the time, and called them a lot over the next couple of weeks when cars idled outside – although I suspect after that it was the poor guy delivering the newspapers via car at 5am.

    I’m sure there’s been other times too! Almost had it called for myself recently, this is quite embarrassing. I’d had a very bad flu and I’d been in bed with fever and intense migraines for 3 days. I hadn’t eaten or drunken anything that day, and I was a MESS. I’d been sobbing as I’d received some news (not THAT bad, but I was feeling crappy anyway) and so I looked awful. I live fairly high up in an apartment building and the fire alarms went off while I was home alone. I waited a minute to see if it was a false alarm, and when I realised it wasn’t, I pulled myself out of bed and suddenly panicked because I couldn’t go downstairs looking like that! So I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to fix my hair, put on clothes that didn’t smell, etc. By the time I finished, it’d been going for about 5 minutes and everyone had already evacuated. I went into the stairwell alone and started stumbling down the stairs. I made it down about 9 flights of stairs and the smell of smoke was growing stronger. Then I heard some yelling a couple of flights of stairs below me. Suddenly all the lights in the stairwell switched off – there was no external windows so I was in pitch black darkness. I had no idea what was happening, except that I couldn’t see anything and I could smell smoke. I started screaming “HELP ME” at the top of my lungs and running down the stairs in the darkness. I honestly thought I was going to die, which is ridiculous to look back on, but that’s how it felt! As I somehow managed to round a corner to head down another flight of stairs, a door opened below me and some firefighters poked their head through. By this point I was in hysterics. They’d just finished putting out the fire. I tried explaining to them that I had the flu and a migraine and hadn’t eaten and that I’m not normally such a wreck! All while bawling my eyes out and hiccupping. They offered to call me an ambulance as I was a wreck, and then when I refused, they told me to call someone to look after me and escorted me back to my apartment. I felt very silly. My boyfriend showed up to visit me from work a few minutes later. So all much ado about nothing really!

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