Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Most Difficult Call I've Ever Taken

One of the scariest calls I've ever taken was in January of 2007. I was working a grave shift at the 911 position when the call came in. A female called saying that her ex-husband was at her house and was banging on her door. The female was very composed and was giving some very good information over the phone. That composure quickly changed to terror.

While I was on the phone with her (and with officers already enroute to her house) I heard some glass breaking. The caller started to get a little more upset and said her ex had just broken through the front window of the home. The caller said she and her boyfriend had gone to her bedroom and had locked themselves in. I was still talking to the female trying to get her to stay calm and give me some more information. I asked her if she thought her ex had a weapon and at that point she started to scream. I heard what sounded like a banging noise in the background and my caller was just screaming. It was the worst scream I have ever heard! I told the other dispatcher that I heard screaming and banging in the background and that nobody would talk to me on the phone and she updated the responding officers.

I kept trying to get the lady to talk to me but she just continued to scream. I finally heard over the radio that the first officer was on scene. Due to our protocol and the situation surrouding the call I didn't disconnect right away. I was waiting to make sure the officer got out with the female before I hung up. I was still listening to screaming on the phone when I heard the officer over the radio yell "10-33".

In the police field we use 10-codes. When an officer arrives on scene he says 10-23, when we copy what is said to us we say 10-4, when we need him to make a phone call we say 10-21 etc. One of the codes I hate to hear over the radio is 10-33 (and I've only heard it 4 times in the 3 1/2 years I've been a dispatcher). 10-33 means "help me quick" simpler terms it means "one of us is going to die if I don't get help now"! It is not a good thing to hear over the radio.

As soon as I heard the officer yell 10-33 the phone line went dead and it was silence. I no longer had the female screaming in my ear, I no longer heard banging in the background and I had a pit in my stomach. When an officer yells 10-33 the radio is cleared code-red (no radio traffic) until we hear the officer is ok. It was probably only 1 minute of radio silence, but it seemed to last forever. I was sick to my stomach concerned about the officer and his safety. Eventually other officers arrived on scene and helped him get the situation under control and finally told us the officer was ok. It was such a relief.

Later that night that officer came up into dispatch and told us the story. He arrived on scene to see shattered glass and entered the home to find blood all over the home. He also heard screaming down the hall. The officer, sensing he needed to help now and couldn't wait for backup, went down the hall to see what was going on. When he got to the end of the hall he saw a male at the end of the hall with a very big knife, stabbing people through a hole in a door. Apparently the banging noise I had heard was the male suspect kicking in the door. He had kicked the door almost completely in and also had a kicked a large hole in the door. My caller and her boyfriend were on the other side of that door and were having to hold the door with their hands to keep him from coming in. However, there was a large hole in the door and the suspect was stabbing his ex and her boyfriend through that hole. I was on the phone listening to a woman who was being stabbed.

The officer said he had grabbed his gun and told the suspect to stop. He said the suspect turned and "squared-off" with him, aiming the knife right at him. The officer said he was about to pull the trigger when the suspect turned away from him and started stabbing through the door again. At that time the officer grabbed his taser and tased the man until his backup arrived and they were able to take control of the situation and take the suspect into custody. They also had to transport all 3 (the 2 victims and the suspect) to local hospitals to be treated. The suspect, who was intoxicated, was then taken to jail. It turns out there were also 2 children in the home who were unharmed and returned to their mother after she was treated.

I don't know how many of you have heard the death scream before, but it is scary. It is enough to make you sick to your stomach. It is something I could live with never hearing again. I am just so grateful in this situation that my caller lived and also that my officer lived. I would have felt such a huge responsibility if anything had happened to that officer. It is our job, our main responsibility, to keep the officers safe. They are putting their lives in our hands every time they come to work and that isn't something I take lightly. I am so happy that this call had the ending that it did. To look at the whole story on line as it was posted in the daily herald click the following link:

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