Wacky 911 calls - Ottawa Sun

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    Cap'n Clutch
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    Wacky 911 calls - Ottawa Sun

    Post by Cap'n Clutch on Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:44 am

    This was just too hilarious not to post:

    http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/02/12/wacky-911-calls

    A Toronto baby undergoing potty-training dialled 911 with a cellphone after its mother provided the device as a diversion.

    Another cell user insisted a cat dialled the three-digit emergency number.

    A woman wanting police to fetch her escaped bird later reported she climbed a tree, fetched the feathered fugitive, and no longer needed help.

    Those calls, all to emergency operators, may seem unbelievable.

    But Tracy Finn, voice services co-ordinator for staff who dispatch city police or transfer calls to firefighters, paramedics and the non-emergency line, insists all were made last year.

    And she has the computer logs to prove it.

    Equally skewed, puzzling and inexplicably mundane appeals — sometimes demands — for police to ride to a person’s or animal’s rescue are routine trials.

    Some topics are even familiar.

    At Christmas, Finn said people always call 911, asking: “How do you baste a turkey?”

    Despite the temptation, operators must remain calm and not suggest ways to stuff it.

    Callers often ask how to reach local divisions, instead of dialling 416-808-2222, the online and phonebook-listed, non-emergency number.

    Complaints of street sanders not making runs after the first snowflakes fall are often accompanied by demands for police action.

    Callers are told to dial the city’s 311 help line and that sidewalks are a homeowner’s responsibility.

    Other bizarre 911 calls:

    • A woman lost her hairbrush.

    • Mouse in bathroom. Send help!

    • Dead cat on a road.

    • A caller travelling to Ontario from the southern United States asked about weather conditions last October — long before snow season.

    • A fearful man reporting a dead bird on his balcony was given the 311 and Public Health hotline West Nile virus numbers.

    • When no one came online, an operator dialled a displayed number and reached a cellphone “pocket dialling” while its owner did laundry, Finn said. He was advised “in a brief call” to monitor the device better.

    • About 20 years ago, a caller told her: “Every time I open the oven, a voice tells me not to clean it.”

    “I was so caught off-guard, I said: ‘If I were you, I’d listen to the voice and clean the oven another day,’ ” Finn said. “The person said ‘OK,’ ” and never called back.

    • “What day is it?” is a common appeal.

    Daft as that may seem, Finn says operators are sometimes caught off-guard and may decide it’s easier to answer than explain sensible alternatives to tying up the number people rely on for help.

    • A six-year-old girl whose voice and claim to be 16 seemed genuine as she reported her sister’s house burning.

    “Even though every ounce of my fibre may discount it, without an adult, I have to send help,” Finn said, not recalling the outcome when the little prankster was confronted by emergency crews.

    • An uninjured car crash victim told an operator, who reached her after a call was cancelled, that she was showing her child how to dial 911 and thought she hung up without transmitting.

    But Finn said such calls are placed “in a millisecond,” and when operators detect dead lines, they call back to make sure someone hasn’t been forced to hang up or lost consciousness.

    • A caller became haughty when an operator said it wasn’t her job to give lessons about Citizen’s Band (CB) radio use, snarkily admonishing: “You better find out!”

    • A lost motorist who said his GPS mistakenly guided him to Etobicoke wanted directions to Markham.

    • While operators handled double their normal 6,000-a-night shift calls during the widespread 2003 power blackout, one caller tied up the non-emergency line for 54 minutes — demanding police solve a parking problem.

    • During the Jan. 9 launch by senior GTA officers of a public appeal for people to avoid “pocket dialling” from unchecked cellphones and keep them away from children, a caller asked operator Allison Manafo for an officer to handle a screaming neighbour.

    Manafo calmly explained that was not unlawful, unless threats were made, then provided the non-emergency number in case the abuser was mentally disturbed and needed medical help.

    Having a good sense of humour can relieve tension from handling real, sometimes ghastly 911 calls, Finn said.

    But operators are trained to avoid treating calls lightly, since they may be talking with someone confused by drugs, mental issues, an injury, illness — or that “they were just determined that was their most important issue and might calm down later.”

    Even repeat calls from emotionally disturbed people or “the lonely” must be considered in case they’re not crying wolf.

    If determined to be nonsense, however, a report can be forwarded to officers who may visit the person to learn their status and dissuade them.

    Or, in the case of a man who reported being too drunk to drive, but wanted police to come to stock his fridge with beer, there are other obvious police options if that call had come from a vehicle.

    Alas, Finn’s file was blank on that account.
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    Re: Wacky 911 calls - Ottawa Sun

    Post by spader on Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:04 am

    Facepalm
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    Re: Wacky 911 calls - Ottawa Sun

    Post by Cap'n Clutch on Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:29 am

    I love the "How do I baste my Turkey" question. Pure gold. Laughing3
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    Re: Wacky 911 calls - Ottawa Sun

    Post by Cap'n Clutch on Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:30 am

    This one is awesome as well:

    • About 20 years ago, a caller told her: “Every time I open the oven, a voice tells me not to clean it.”

    “I was so caught off-guard, I said: ‘If I were you, I’d listen to the voice and clean the oven another day,’ ” Finn said. “The person said ‘OK,’ ” and never called back.
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    Re: Wacky 911 calls - Ottawa Sun

    Post by wprager on Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:08 pm

    I could understand a self-cleaning over that had a reminder, but that would be a voice telling her to clean it, not to not clean it.

    Basting the turkey, though? Wow. How bad do your in-laws and out-laws have to be for you to be so stressed that you call 911?


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