The Time 911 Called Me

, , , | Right | September 23, 2020

Please note that at the time of this story I was running on hope and caffeine, and had been awake for thirty hours, so some details might have changed due to my recollection.

It is the winter of 2018. I work at a call center for a power and natural gas company. The worst polar vortex storm the state has seen in ages hits us, with temperatures frequently hitting -25 or below for over a week.

Even the waffle houses closed; waffle houses are so reliable FEMA uses something called “the waffle house index” to rate disasters!

I was living close enough to work that they called me in a few times and all hours of the day over the weeks because the number of people who could arrive safely is small.

At the beginning, our queue could be over 500 people. By day three it is mostly just shouting that we need to reconnect their power before anyone else because of any number of reasons, none of which changed the reality that we couldn’t do that. The power grid is like a vascular system. If the end of the line isn’t getting blood it isn’t because the immediate juncture is stopped up. This is compounded by weather and reconnection surges frying an entire second batch of equipment and causing a second wave of outages.

Me: *Taking a call* “Thank you for calling [Power Company], my name is [My Name]; how may I help you today?”

Caller: “I’m not sure you can help, please let me know if you need to get a supervisor. My name is [Caller’s Name] and I am with [Major cellular company]. We donate facilities to be used as 911 relays and switchboards, and the 911 branch in Minnesota town has a problem. See, we have generators and fuel, but only enough for 86 hours. We are currently at about 76 hours without power. We have a fuel delivery being made on an emergency basis tomorrow after they will have been out of power for about 90 hours. With this weather, we need to remain active so our last-ditch hope was to contact you guys and see what can be done.”

I am staring blankly at the address search screen trying to process this.

Me: “Well… let me put you on hold for just a second, I want to see if we have a protocol for… this. Can I get the address of your building?”

Caller: “Oh yeah, absolutely, ask around! Anything that may help. Our address is [Very Minnesota road in very mid-west town].”

At this point, I just mute and ask the girl next to me what the h*** I do. The supervisors are beyond busy, sometimes even taking calls themselves, but she had worked there for six years and just gave me a blank stare for a moment.

Supervisor: “Huh, that’s new, call dispatch I guess. It is an emergency. Several actually.”

I hop on the line, check to make sure an order to investigate the outage is already there, check-in with the caller and get his callback line, all that, then call dispatch.

Dispatch: “Dispatch, what’s the issue?”

Me: “So I know we don’t prioritize who gets reconnected b—”

Dispatch: “Ya d*** right we don’t!”

Me: “Yes I understand that, but I have a fellow from 911 on my line. He says they’ve exhausted their options for keeping the lights on themselves. They won’t get fuel for the generator until they’ve been offline for several hours. That town was hit some of the worst, the last thing they need is to not be able to contact emergency services.”

There is a long pause.

Dispatch: “Okay, I need to put you on hold.”

I hear a bunch of shouting into different rooms because he didn’t put me on hold or even mute me. The dispatcher’s boss gets on the line.

Dispatch Boss: “This is [Dispatch Boss], I hear you’ve got 911 on your line?”

We go back and forth, I bring the cell rep into the call and hop around in the system getting our protocol stuff done, and letting my team lead know what’s going on. I never heard about the issue again, so I have to assume it worked out.

Honestly, I think that dispatch actually giving a hoot was more surreal than being called by 911. Those guys always sound like every request you make is like squeezing lemon juice in their eyes.

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Many Marvelous Miracles!

, , , , , , , | Related | August 21, 2020

This happened eight or nine years ago. I was at my parents’ house, since I had a planned get-together with my friends, when I got a frantic call from my husband that our house was on fire. Sadly, since we only had one car at the time, I couldn’t drive home myself. My dad offered to take me but my husband told me to wait and he’d come and get me. 

The fire had started in my mother-in-law’s room when a piece of clothing fell on top of a power strip. There were a few miracles that day. 

  1. Her door to her bedroom was shut so the fire didn’t spread. 
  2. No one was hurt, including our pets, though the one cat still has PTSD, we think. 
  3. Nana didn’t go shopping that day even though Fridays were normally her shopping day with her friend.
  4. Last but not least, even though the fire reached 1500 degrees according to the firemen, my mother-in-law’s Bible only had smoke damage even though everything else in the room was destroyed. 

She still has the Bible to this day.

This story is part of our feel-good roundup for August 2020!

Read the next feel-good story here!

Read the feel-good August 2020 roundup!

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They Got The Exact Opposite Element They Were Looking For

, , , | Right | August 14, 2020

I work for the fire department, and I answer the phone.

Me: “Fire department, how can I help you?”

There are lots of static and screaming kids in the background.

Me: “Hello, is this an emergency?”

There is still no answer, just the screaming kids.

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “F****** d*** it! My d*** phone called the wrong number. I am trying to reach the f****** water department!”

Me: “I can transfer you if you would like.”

Caller: “No, you can fix my phone so it does what I want.” *Click*

Me: “If I could do that, I’d be rich.”

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You Will Need To Call A Different Branch

, , , | Right | August 12, 2020

I work for the fire department. I get this call from the public.

Caller: “Can you come and cut down the branches from a tree in my yard?”

Me: “No, sir, we do not do branch—”

Caller: “But my kids could die! You’re supposed to save lives, not kill people.”

Me: “Our staff is not trained in the proper way to remove branches. We suggest you call an arborist since they have the proper training and equipment.”

Caller: “But I pay your salary, not theirs. You are required to help me!”

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When Patients Have No Patience

, , , , | Healthy | July 29, 2020

Sometimes, when we go to patient’s homes to get them to the hospital, we can’t bring them to the closest one because it’s full. This patient was set to go to the closest, but it was not possible.

Patient’s Wife: “So, you’ll bring him to [Hospital], right?”

Colleague: “Ma’am, [Hospital] is currently full.”

He opens the website that shows the availability of hospitals in the area.

Colleague: “See? It’s red. We could bring your husband to [List Of Different Hospitals in the area].”

Patient’s Wife: “But he has always been treated at [Hospital]! They know him there!”

Colleague: “They might know him, but that doesn’t mean they can magically fit him in the already full hospital.”

Patient’s Wife: “This is outrageous! My husband’s sick and you refuse to get him to the hospital!”

Me: “No, ma’am. We simply can’t get him to [Hospital]. But we’re offering you hospitals in the area that’ll surely treat him just as well. Just give us the physician letters from the hospital and the other hospital will surely know how to proceed and properly treat him.”

Patient’s Wife: “I demand you call the hospital and ask if you can bring him!”

My colleague and I look at each other and sigh. He starts calling the hospital. He explains the situation to the woman sitting at the ER desk. He then puts her on speaker.

Woman At The ER Desk: “Ma’am, we are pretty busy here. The paramedics could bring him here, but he would have to wait a very long time until he’s being treated.”

Patient’s Wife: “I don’t care! He has to be at [Hospital]!”

My colleague and I shrugged and decided to just drive the patient to the hospital. We dropped him off, apologizing quietly to the ER staff for giving them more work. A few hours later, as we passed by the ER to pick a patient up to drive them home again, we saw the woman loudly complaining to the ER desk and asking why it was taking so long for her husband to be treated. My colleague and I just looked at each other, shook our heads, and moved on with our days.

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