******Not for the Faint of Heart******
So this next call I will tell you about happened quite a while ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Like the title of this article, this call almost made me quit.
This article is a bit longer, but a lot comes with this story.
Here it goes…
I remember walking into work around 20:00 (8 pm). It was in the middle of the summer, and it was hectic. Many calls were placed on hold, so I immediately sat down and tried to help.
A few hours went by, and it was back-to-back calls. At the time, it was making the night go by fast. I looked back at the time; it was already 23:30 (11:30 pm). Little did I know time would stand still a few minutes later.
The next thing I knew, the 911 lines were ringing like crazy. I looked over to see about 20 911 lines ringing at once. I remember there weren’t that many of us that night. Looking back on it, we needed everyone.
I looked at my screen to see that all the calls being put in were shots fired. I looked at my map and saw they were all being reported in the same place. I looked back at my phone and saw the 20 911 lines that were ringing were now at 50. I thought this will be a shooting, but there was no shooting call yet.
Everyone at that point was trying to get through all the 911 lines as best as possible, myself included. Each call I took was the same shots fired call as everyone else. It was still in the same area. However, the information was that people heard shots being fired but couldn’t see anyone. Some of the other callers reported they heard screaming but nothing else. I looked back at the phone, and 911 lines still said 60 calls were coming in. My adrenaline started going, and I tried to prepare myself as best as possible.
Everyone was doing our best with the number of calls coming in. But the next call that I answered changed everything.
I answered, “911, what is the address of your emergency?”
The caller did not give an address; he said, “You have an officer down!”
I didn’t answer him right away. I went into a little bit of a shock. I thought, no, this can’t be happening.
I looked at my map, and the caller’s phone was showing in the area of all the shots fired calls. But I didn’t see any police officers in the area. I thought, there's the shooting, but what officer is he talking about?
He said, “Hello?” Because there was an open line for a moment. I had to get it together and fast.
I said, “Yes, I’m here. Where are you at?”
He gave me the address, and at that point, he told me he was holding pressure on the gunshot wound.
I said, “Good! Yes, keep putting pressure on it.”
I was still trying to gather myself and return to work mode times a thousand.
I took a deep breath and asked, “Who is the officer? How do you know it’s a police officer?”
He said, “It’s an off-duty police officer from a different agency (can’t name it), but they were visiting a friend in the area. I think someone tried to rob them, and they were shot.”
At that point, everyone in the room started working on this call. It was confirmed this was a police officer from a different agency.
I asked, “Did you see who tried to rob the officer? What did they look like? Which way did they go?”
He said, “I don’t know; I only saw two males running away in dark clothing. I’m sorry.”
I said, “No, that’s okay; let me know when officers are right there with you.”
He said, “They're here.”
He did leave the line open long enough for me to hear the officer in the background says, “Don’t worry, we got you, brother.”
I should have hung up the phone because that right there broke my heart. It took a lot of work to stay professional, stay in that seat, and take more calls. It was almost impossible. I still had eight hours left on my shift. I didn’t think I could do it. All I heard was my co-workers asking if I was okay. They were all apprehensive, which I’m thankful for. I said I was okay, but I wasn’t. Either way, I had a job to do right then and there. I could decide after today if I wanted to quit.
I continued to work, but at this point, I was only answering the non-emergency lines. I told everyone and the supervisors, “I’m okay; I just need a minute.” I could tell everyone was still worried.
I looked at my phone; the 911 lines started going crazy again. I thought to myself; I can’t just not answer it.
So I answered the next 911 call, and this is what I got.
I said, “911, what is the address of your emergency?”
The caller came on the line and said, “I’ve been shot! I’m outside my house.”
My head fell back, and I thought, there is no way this is happening. Another one?
But as I’ve said before in my other articles. I answered it, and now I’m in it; there is no turning back.
I dropped the second shooting call on the screen. Everyone in that room turned to me and said, “Another one? Are you sure?”
I shook my head yes since I was on the phone.
Still, in shock from the last call, I gave the caller medical directions.
I said, “Stay on the phone with me; I’ve got help coming to you.”
I looked at my map to ensure I knew where the caller was. It wasn’t in the shots-fired area; almost everyone was on that call. Finally, a thought came to my mind, and I zoomed out of my map. My caller wasn’t too far from the shooting. They were far, but not too far. It was definitely like a light bulb that came on for me. I slowly started coming back into work mode.
I asked the caller, “Who shot you? Where did this happen?”
The caller said, “I don’t know who shot me, but I’m shot.”
While getting information from this caller, I pulled up the shooting call, and a couple of notes were added; they read: Shots were exchanged with the suspects and the officer. It is unknown if anyone of them were hit.
Right after reading those notes, I thought, this is the suspect. This is the person.
I added in my call notes that the shooting victim I have on the phone is the most likely the suspect in the shooting with the police officer.
After my supervisors and others read those notes, they asked, “Are you sure?”
I muted myself and said, “Yes, shots were exchanged, this person is shot, and it’s not far away from the shooting. It’s related. Believe me.”
After hearing what I said, the dispatchers immediately added more officers to my call.
I still had the caller on the line and said, “I have help coming to you. Are you still holding pressure?”
He said, “Yes, and the police are here.”
I disconnected the line and realized I was even more shocked than before.
Soon after, I read the notes in my shooting call, and the police added: Recovered firearm and mask in the yard across the street and black gloves in the road. They will most likely be the suspect.
When I saw those notes, I was relieved. My first instinct was right. However, I made an assumption, and we are not supposed to do that. Luckily I was right, and everyone trusted my judgment.
I told you before I believed in coincidences, but not as much as I used to. I don’t know why that second shooting call came to my phone, but it did.
After all that, I had to get up and walk around a bit. However, I still had to finish up the work day. Luckily it was my Friday, and I had time to think and process what had happened. It wasn’t easy, and I never wanted to take another call like that again.
For those that are wondering, the police officer did live. The officer was off duty and not in uniform. The suspect attempted to rob the officer. I don’t think they knew it was a police officer, but either way, it’s still a robbery with a gun on a person. Any person caught in this situation would defend themselves in any way they could, which is what the officer did.
Thank you all for letting me share! This was one of the hardest nights at work I have ever had. It is tough not to think about this night.
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