911 dispatchers have a tough job as it is-- dealing with life and death emergencies. But what's surprising is some of the most stressful calls they get aren’t emergencies at all.
In her 18 years with Marathon County dispatch, Jade Marten has seen it all. Shes helped to save countless lives, talked people through CPR, and coordinated major emergency responses. She has also been asked out on dates, had people try to pay their phone bills, and asked questions that don't even come close to being emergencies.
"I've had people call up and ask what the time and temperature was. We get people that are mixed up with 411 and 211 and 911,” she says.
In one call a man calls to ask what time the sun goes down. Another calls to just see if their phone is working.
There are about 135,000 people living in Marathon County, yet the 911 dispatch center takes in nearly 35,000 911 calls. All the more reason to realize why with that call volume, you should only use this line if there is an actual emergency.
Calling because you are locked out of your car isn't worth a 911 call, but it happened here anyway. "I forgot my keys in the car and I have to get in,” says one caller.
“So you locked yourself out of your car?,” asks the dispatcher.
Police were dispatched and helped unlock the woman's car.
But to the dispatcher's disbelief she called back a few minutes later at a different location.
"Dominos pizza in Schofield?,” asks the dispatcher
“Yes”, says the caller.
“You locked your keys in your car?
“Yes, stupidly,” she says.
“Were you just helped by us?,” asks the dispatcher.
“Yes, you did,” She says.
“So you locked them in a second time?”, asks the dispatcher.
“You are the same person the officer just unlocked them from at 50/50, right?”
Portage County gets its share of bizarre calls as well.
"We [answered] and his wife went away and said her cat got out and was stuck in a tree... And he wanted an officer to come over and shoot it before the wife came home. He didn't like the cat and he was very comical,” explains dispatcher Melissa Pitcher.
But there's nothing funny about what they do to the 911 lines.
"It's frustrating because you are preparing for an actual emergency and then it is not. Your blood pressure goes up a little bit and it's nothing."
While most unnecessary 911 calls are just a nuisance, prank 911 calls can be downright dangerous.
Last year, a 12-year-old Kentucky boy called 911 and said he had been shot.
Only after a million dollars worth of aid was dispatched, did emergency crews realize it was a hoax.
On Youtube, some have even posted their prank 911 calls online. Dispatch has a zero tolerance policy for pranks.
"They can actually issue a citation to them. If we want to press charges we can request for charges to be pressed and the DA's [District Attorney's] office can prosecute those cases. And it has happened,” says dispatcher Denise Schultz.
It's clear that some calls can downright ridiculous. Like this one we found on Youtube.
"The first sandwich I got with extra avocado. They didn’t put none of that on there, they were supposed to give me extra avocado but the sandwich is dry."
But it is no laughing matter to dispatchers.
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