Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of sexual assault and domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.
A recent Reddit thread asked emergency call operators to describe the one call that they would never forget.
There were hundreds of sad, shocking and fascinating responses, but one in particular has gone viral for being an incredibly powerful example of the system working at its best.
I had a call that started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious:
“911, where is you emergency?”
“123 Main St.”
“Ok, what’s going on there?”
“I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.” (oh great, another prank call).
“Ma’am, you’ve reached 911”
“Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom and peppers?”
“Ummm…. I’m sorry, you know you’ve called 911 right?”
“Yeah, do you know how long it will be?”
“Ok, Ma’am, is everything ok over there? do you have an emergency?”
“Yes, I do.”
“..And you can’t talk about it because there’s someone in the room with you?” (moment of realization)
“Yes, that’s correct. Do you know how long it will be?”
“I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?”
“Can you stay on the phone with me?”
“Nope. See you soon, thanks”
As we dispatch the call, I check the history at the address, and see there are multiple previous domestic violence calls. The officer arrives and finds a couple, female was kind of banged up, and boyfriend was drunk. Officer arrests him after she explains that the boyfriend had been beating her for a while. I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick. Definitely one of the most memorable calls.
Sadly, it’s all too often that women in domestic disputes don’t feel safe enough to reach out for help. It’s quick thinking like this that can save lives – your own or somebody else’s.
Well done to both the woman who survived and the dispatcher who took the call.
If you believe you may be an abusive partner, you can receive help via Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. If you have experienced, or are at risk of domestic violence or sexual assault, you can receive help by calling 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger please call the police on 000.