the call to 911

When I was in college, I lived in an apartment with five other guys. The apartment was small, but cheap. It had two bedrooms, with three beds in each, a medium size kitchen, a small living room and a single bathroom. We got along well though and I have many fond memories. Here’s one of them.

One evening a roommate thought he had called a friend of his (a girl), but instead of calling his friend, he accidentally dialed 911. You had to dial 9 to make calls, and he explained what happened but I never figured out exactly how he made that mistake. Suffice it to say that he called 911 when he thought he had called his friend.

Apparently she was quite the prankster because when he heard, “Emergency response 911” he thought his friend was joking around. He didn’t want to spoil the joke, so he went along with it. He wailed in mock terror, “Oh it’s awful, there’s blood everywhere. My child got his arm chopped up in the blender!”

The operator began asking questions about the injured child, if it was breathing and if he had done anything to stop the bleeding. Apparently the questions got too realistic and a sudden thought came into his head. Could it be that he had mis-dialed his friend’s phone number? She certainly knew a lot about how to react on the phone in an emergency and what questions to ask. She even mentioned something about having an officer on the way to check things out. It was then that he realized it really wasn’t his friend joking around, and began apologizing profusely. He explained to her what had happened, and thought that was the end of it, never thinking to mention his little mishap to the rest of us.

Now let’s switch to my perspective.

I was standing in the kitchen by the sink, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when someone knocked on the door. With my mouth full, I managed to get out, “Umh in” but there was no response. A few seconds later the knocking returned, louder and more urgent. I casually walked to the door, peanut butter sandwich in hand, and opened it. There stood a police officer, not looking too friendly.

He proceeded to ask me if everything was okay, and, still trying to swallow my sandwich, I said, “Uh. I ingh so”. He proceeded to explain that someone had called 911 from this apartment saying there was blood everywhere and that a child had been severely injured. I didn’t know what to say, so I did what any normal college student would do. I turned around and yelled, “Does anyone know anything about a call to 911?”

Out came my roommate. His face was white, and he had one of the most scared and concerned expressions I had ever seen. When he saw the police officer, I thought he was going to faint on the spot. He immediately began apologizing, saying he didn’t mean to do it and that it was all a big mistake. I was confused at first, but managed to figure out that he had dialed 911 and somehow thought it wasn’t real and had come up with some sort of story.

The officer wasn’t buying it, and asked me and another roommate to come into one of the bedrooms with him so he could question us. He asked us if our roommate would do something like that to be funny, and if he was lying about it being a mistake. He also got the dispatcher who had taken the call on his little shoulder speaker and asked what she thought. After listening to all of our opinions, he decided to give my roommate a stern reprimand and told him that if anything like that ever happened again, he would be spending the night in jail.

You know, to this day, I don’t know why the police officer didn’t just come in when I yelled for him to.


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  1. I actually write the software for the 9-1-1 dispatchers. As far as I know, there is no protocol for that…

    Comment by carlene on March 10, 2004 @ 11:17 am
  2. I don’t know how often that happens, but it might be a good idea to add that to the list of protocols. If it happened once, it could happen again.

    Comment by dan on March 10, 2004 @ 11:22 am
  3. THAT is hilarious.

    So you had 6 roommates in a 2 bed/1 bath apartment. What was your rent, $60 each?

    Comment by Renee on March 10, 2004 @ 2:07 pm
  4. What is the “that” for which there is no protocol? Fake 9-1-1 calls? I’m guesing no, because they happen all the time.

    Comment by David on March 10, 2004 @ 2:08 pm
  5. Renee: If I remember correctly, it was $85 in the summer and $190 during school. I lived there for two years beacuse it was close to campus, had a pool and a basketball court right down the stairs from me.

    Comment by dan on March 10, 2004 @ 2:36 pm
  6. Heh. Talking around a mouthful of peanut butter sandwich is difficult indeed.

    Six people to a bathroom? Ug. Only 6 men could share a single bathroom. That could never happen with women. At least, it couldn’t happen without a lot of screaming and crying.

    Comment by Jan on March 11, 2004 @ 5:05 am
  7. There were plenty of female apartments in the complex, so they managed somehow. I should clarify that the bathroom just had the shower and toilet and there was a two-sink vanity right outside.

    Comment by dan on March 11, 2004 @ 8:21 am
  8. So your 2 bedroom apt was over $1100 a month during the school year? You guys shoulda bought a house!

    Comment by Renee on March 11, 2004 @ 8:49 am
  9. Yeah, BYU Approved Housing is a horrible racket. You can’t just live anywhere you want when you’re going to BYU, and that makes for an interesting housing situation. Supposedly it ensures that everyone going to BYU has housing that meets certain safety (physical and spiritual) standards. In reality, I don’t think it works very well for its stated purpose.

    Comment by Levi on March 11, 2004 @ 10:28 am
  10. That story is a KEEPER! Oh my, I was on my lunch break scanning your website and read the 911 story! I was laughing so hard! If I were you I probably would have choked on my PB&J…I hope that that 9-1-1 call would not been looked at as a “cry wolf call again”.

    Comment by Emily on March 29, 2004 @ 11:15 am

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