The Silly and Sweet Reasons Kids Called 911
In normal circumstances, the 911 dispatch center only handles emergencies. However, kids are not always discriminating in what they consider to be a crisis. In the mind of a child, "emergencies" like homework, naps and missed meals can seem catastrophic.
On a hilarious Reddit thread, 911 dispatchers, former children and parents shared the most entertaining stories about the reasons children have called 911. These are the best comments.
Please Save Steve!
My cousin called because she was giving her lizard a bath when it went down the drain. (It was like a tiny house gecko named Steve.) She called 911, crying that Steve was drowning and had gone down the drain. By the time the dispatcher figured out Steve was a gecko, the police and fire dept were already pulling up. She was like six or so, and I still tease her about it … I do feel bad for Steve, though.
Take My Mommy to Jail
My dad was the chief of police when I was growing up, and I spent a lot of time at the station. When I was four or five, my mom wouldn't let me do something, so I called the emergency line (pre-911 days), and after the "Police, what is your emergency" greeting, I very sternly requested that they arrest my mother.
The dispatcher recognized the address I was calling from and called my dad to tell him that I was on the emergency line and explain what I wanted. I got a lecture that night, but from what my dad said, they had a good laugh about it at the station.
Emergency Flatulence Situation
My uncle is a dispatcher in my home town. He always tells me the story of this four-year-old who called 911 because his older brother farted on him.
The kid hung up the phone a short time after he explained what happened. My uncle said he was laughing too hard and had to wait a couple of extra seconds before calling the number back.
The mother answered the phone, and the dispatcher had to explain what happened to her and to make sure everything was alright. The mother was mortified and apologized over and over. My uncle said it was a welcome moment of levity during a stressful holiday workweek.
The Case of the Little Old Man Baby
My kid was 17 months old and impossible to tie down. While I was cooking dinner, he went into the study and somehow dialed triple zero — the emergency line in Australia. I think he was trying to talk to his Nanna but panicked when a stranger’s voice came down the line instead.
I caught him and hung up the phone, not knowing he’d actually dialed anyone. Then I went back to cooking butter chicken for dinner. Fourteen minutes later the police are on my doorstep.
They came in urgently, looking for "an old man who might have fallen down". The emergency line operator had asked several questions, but the only response she had gotten was labored, heavy breathing that she thought was an old man too injured to speak. Luckily for us, it was just a sneaky and confused toddler wheezing.
We figured it out, and I brought my kid out to meet the policemen. One of them said "Yeah, that’d be the perp. Look at the guilty look on his face." Funnily enough, my kid did have an expression of extreme chagrin. Possibly the first and last time he ever felt guilty for anything.
A Burger Worth Fighting for
When we were younger and home alone, my sister called the police on my brother because they both wanted the same In 'N Out Burger. We had four identical burgers, but they wanted the same one. The police came to our house and explained to us why we shouldn't call the police for no reason. Our mom came home in the middle of their lecture. She was not happy.
Fortnite Saves the Day
My favorite call recently was from an 11-year-old kid who was walking home from school and got lost. He called 999 in a panic, so I told him to stay where he was until officers arrived. We didn't have officers available for about 30 minutes, so we just spent half an hour chatting about Fortnite.
I guess it’s not exactly a funny call, but it was enjoyable!
Dispatch Appreciation Call
I had a little one call in to our center about 10 times, just so she could tell us that she loved us and appreciated us and that we are doing such a great job. Our center is pretty big, so she would get a different person almost every time. However, if she got you more than once, she would say something like, "Nonono, I already told you! I need to tell someone else. You're great, but they need to know they're great, too! Okay, I love you, bye!" It was all from a disconnected cell, and we weren't really getting a great lock on her location, but she stopped after about an hour, so it wasn't super concerning. Made my day! I hope she grows up and keeps that big heart of hers. We need more people like her in the world. (They don't necessarily need to call 911, but the point still stands.)
Grand Theft Auto in Real Life
This one is not from an operator, but a responder. A few years back, one kid called 911 on his brother for not letting him play Xbox. My friend, the operator, put me in for a conference call. In the background, I heard this guy shout, "HE'S TAKING THE TRUCK!"
Apparently, the parents made the kid get off the Xbox and go outside, so the kid did the logical thing: steal the UPS truck parked across the street.
A Hilariously Huge Coincidence
About ten years ago, my preteen little sister once accidentally called 911 while calling her best friend (her phone number, minus the area code, started with 9 and 1) and then hung up as soon as she realized her mistake without saying anything to the operator. She didn't tell anyone in the family what she had done for fear of getting in trouble and hoped it would just go away. This was seen as suspicious, and a police officer already driving in the area was sent to our house.
It just so happens that around that same time, my mom's sister was visiting, and she was in the process of leaving. The cop arrived just as she pulled out of our driveway. My sister actually saw the cop pass just after she left and was horrified, but she hoped it was just a coincidence and still didn't tell anyone. The cop decided to follow our aunt and pulled her over a block away. The mistake was figured out pretty quickly though, and he let her go without ever coming back to our house.
My aunt called the house laughing as soon as she got home. Until this point, my parents and I still didn't know she had even been pulled over. My sister was finally exposed, and while she was not punished, she did get teased a lot by Mom.
What Did Daddy Do to Mommy?
This happened not to me, but to someone I know.
The kid in question must've been about three or four. Mommy put him down for a nap and went out jogging. Daddy was outside doing yard work. Kid woke up early, looked for Mommy around the house but couldn't find her, so he called 911.
"I can't find Mommy anywhere!" said the kid.
"Is your daddy around?" asked the operator.
"Yeah, but he's outside, digging a big hole." Cops got there fast and didn't leave until Mommy got back from her run.
Old Phones Can Still Call 911
When I was three or four, my dad was teaching me how to call 911. He was using an old cell phone (think an old Nokia flip phone). He told me to press 9-1-1 in an emergency. Well, apparently, the phone was still able to call 911. My dad was shocked when I was "pretending" to talk to a dispatcher and handed the phone to him.
How to Get Your Parents Lectured by the Cops
My childhood best friend was trying to call my house and accidentally dialed 911 instead. When they answered, she hung up. When police showed up, we hid. My friend’s mom had taught her that police always had to take you to jail if they came and used it as a threat anytime her kids were acting up.
Her mom was pulling into the driveway as the officer was knocking on the door and yelled, "Looks like you're going to jail!" as she came in. She and the officer had a pretty stern talk about using the police as threats. We heard it, and our hiding place was found because of our laughing.
What Happens When the Police Don't Believe Your Story
As a young child, I found what was shaped like a WWII drop tank and called 911 saying there was a bomb in the woods. They never did send an officer or anything. I know childhood memories can be fuzzy, but I am absolutely sure it was shaped like one. It wasn’t septic-tank-looking with flat ends. Still, an old airplane fuel tank is not all that weird.
Imagine Getting Out of the Shower to Find a House Full of Police
When my son was in preschool, they were teaching them to dial 911 in an emergency. They explained how to dial and all that. His best friend (also four) decided to try it and see if it worked. While mommy was in the shower, he got the phone and dialed it. When the dispatcher came on, he hung up. As is standard on hangups, dispatch sent a car and officer to check it out.
A little while later, there was a bang, bang, bang on the door, and the officers said, "Police, open up." Mommy goes to the door with a towel around her, opens the door just a crack, and peeks around it. She tells them everything is OK. Because they can't see her, or anything behind her, they say they have to come in to make sure there's not someone holding a gun or knife on mommy. So they come in and all is good. They explain to the kid how you don't call unless it's an emergency. And you don't hang up. I think my son's friend got a stronger explanation from mommy after the nice officers left.
Commit a Crime to Stop a Crime
My sister is a 911 operator, and a kid stole her principal's phone to call the police because they thought homework was a crime.
The Early Days of Robocalls
When I was a little kid, I was in the house by myself. The phone rang, so I debated whether to pick it up or let it ring. I ended up picking it up, but by the time I did, the prerecorded message was already in progress. It was about how you could call nine now. What I didn't hear was that calling nine was short for 911. So I, being curious, call nine. I panicked pretty hard when I heard the operator and hung up without saying anything. They called back, but my dad had come in from the backyard and hurriedly answered the phone. He ended up convincing them not to send a car.
Now why was I alone? All the adults were in the backyard setting up for my cousin's wedding. She didn't know about it till I told her at 17.
How Far Can the Definition of "Kid" Stretch?
My son wondered what the SOS button near the sunroof in my BMW did while I was grabbing something in the supermarket.
I came back as he was trying to explain his button-pushing mistake to the emergency operator!
He is 35 years old!
On a Serious Note ...
I worked for 000, the Australian version of 911. Kiddie calls are rare but kind of stressful as you have to take everything seriously in case it's real (e.g, a four-year-old called to say he couldn't go downstairs because he was scared a zombie would eat him. Turns out his dad just had a heart attack and died, and this was the only way he could think to explain it).
The best call was probably a little boy calling me to tell me his sister is "a dumb brain". Then he called me a dumb brain, too.
Pro tip: if your kid does this and we call you back, PLEASE don't ignore our calls or blurt out "sorry!" and hang up. You won't get in trouble — we just want to get verbal confirmation that we can cancel the job we just opened for you so we're not wasting scarce resources on a non-emergency.
High Stakes Homework
I had a 12-year-old call because her mom said she had to do her homework. She said it was child abuse. On the flipside, we had a mom call to ask for a deputy come to their house to make her daughter do her homework. (Not the same family, to be clear.) I also had a lady call on a Sunday morning. She wanted a deputy to come to their farmhouse and "make the ducks stop eating the fish in their pond."
The Best Way to Beat a Bully
A nine-year-old boy called once because he wanted to speak with a deputy "about his options." He was being bullied by a bigger kid on the bus and was afraid things were going to escalate to a physical fight. He wanted to ask the deputy to talk to the other kid or arrest him so he would stop being a bully.
It turns out his mom was friends with one of the deputies, and she taught him to call 911 if he needed help. I told him he did a good job calling and agreed he did need help from an adult. I spent some time talking to him about what he could do instead of fight and then asked if I could talk to his mom. I told her about our conversation and what an excellent caller he was. One of the hardest parts of the job is not knowing what happens to people. I still wonder what happened with him and his bully.
When Dispatch Joins in
"Emergency 911. What’s the location of your emergency?"
"Is this the Krusty Krab?" (kids laughing in the background)
"No, this is Patrick." (hangs up)
It was the best moment of my sad, little pathetic life ...
Itsy Bitsy Juvenile Delinquents
My spouse did 911 dispatch for a short time and once had a call consisting of several toddlers all singing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" song together
How to Give Your Mom a Heart Attack
My mom told me a story about when I was younger and I called 911 looking for my grandmother. Thinking that was her phone number, I hung up when they said that my grandmother wasn’t there. This was after talking to the dispatch lady for about 10 minutes about school that day, my grandma and how much I loved her. Obviously, they called back hoping there was a parent home. When I answered by saying "Hi Grandma," they asked to speak to my mom. I went into the bathroom while my mom was in the shower and let her know the police were on the phone looking for grandma ... I wasn’t allowed to touch the phone for a while after that ...
Why You Should Never Lie to Children
When my mom married my dad, he was working in law enforcement. My mom jokingly told me that I could call 911 to reach him. I was about seven, and I called 911 to ask him if I could get one of his Little Debbie snacks and to tell him about the planets since my dad loves space. They asked who my dad was, and I told them. He got radioed that his daughter was talking to dispatch to see if I could get one of his snacks, but he was working a fatality and couldn't leave the scene. So one of his patrol officers showed up and told my mom that I had called 911 and that yes, I can have some Little Debbie snacks. My dad thought it was cute. For the longest time, I thought his cell was 911.
"I Can't Go to Jail"
I answered a call, and there was a second of giggling before the phone disconnected. As with all hang-ups, I called back. A child answered with a hello. I replied, "Hi, this is the 911 center. We just received a call from this line." Click. I called back. It rang at least six or seven times before a very tired sounding man answered. "Hi, this is the 911 center. We just received a call from this line?"
"No," he responded, obviously not fully awake.
"Yes sir," I said. "We heard some noises, and then we called back and a child answered."
There was a pause, and then we heard him shout, "Jane, John, get in here now! Did one of you call 911?" There was a pause for what I can only assume was some vigorous head shaking. "The police are on the phone and say someone did."
There was a loud gasp. "John did it, Daddy! I told him not to! I can't go to jail!" She ratted him out immediately. Turns out poor dad was home sick with the flu. Mom had run to the store thinking they'd be fine for 20 minutes watching TV.
'Mommy Isn't Moving'
My little brother called 911 when he was three and told them, "Mommy isn't moving". I was in the kitchen helping make dinner when I heard this banging at the door. Two EMTs and a cop were standing there, and I had no idea what was going on. My brother didn't really know what a 'nap' was, as he had never seen Mom asleep before. We found the phone off the hook and the toddler hiding under the couch. The cop laughed it off.
Babysitting Is a Tough Job
A friend and I were watching another friend's kids, and the oldest was being bad about something, so we told him he was having water with his dinner instead of juice.
He called 911 on us. My friend was lucky enough to grab the phone. When the responder answered with, "911, what's your emergency?" he explained the situation. They never sent anybody — shockingly.
Blame The Easter Bunny
I was a kid that called the cops once on my mom ...
She locked herself in her bedroom because she was painting planters with our favorite Disney characters on them so that she could stuff them full of candy for Easter (which was the next day). I still believed in the Easter bunny and stuff, so obviously, she wanted to keep it a secret from me. I kept trying to come in the room, and she kept telling me I couldn’t come in. Her voice sounded panicked a bit, and as a kid, I picked up on that.
So ... I went upstairs and called 911. I told the lady on the line that my mom was locked in her room and I thought she might be hurting herself. She started asking me questions, and I panicked and hung up the phone. I went downstairs and told my mom that I had called the cops. She immediately opened the door. I assured her it was okay because I didn’t tell them our address. She then informed me that they didn’t need me to tell them. Sure enough, a few minutes later, two cops showed up holding their hands on their holstered guns. They then had to talk with my mom, who still didn’t want the surprise ruined, and then they had to talk to me. They had to do it in a way that wouldn’t scare a child so that in a real emergency, I wouldn’t be too afraid to call them.
I’m not a 911 operator, but when I was younger, my sister had a thing about calling the police. She was always ready to dial. When she was five or six, my grandma had a heart attack, and my parents and I went with her to the hospital. We didn’t wake my sister up before we left, so when she woke up, she called 911 because she thought she’d been left alone in the middle of the night. When the police arrived, my huge, hairy uncle apparently emerged from the guest room half asleep, wearing nothing but boxers, and yelling in broken English about a burglar. I wish I had been there to witness that.
No One Is Dead Here
One morning when I was about four or five, I called 911 to tell them that nobody in the house was dead. They wanted to speak to my parents, and I kept insisting they didn’t need to because no one was dead. Eventually, I hung up on them. They called back and got to speak to my parents, WHO WERE ALIVE AS PROMISED