911 Operator (courtesy cronkitenewsonline.com)

“You sir are an idiot of enormous magnitude!” So begins a recent comment underneath my 2012 post Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Listen to the 911 Operator. “I think the thing that upsets me the most about this article is that it is written in such a way that what you are saying appears credible. Unfortunately the advice you are giving is dangerous, at best.” As you might imagine, this website does not want to give dangerous advice to armed Americans (or other nationalities). So, in the interests of personal safety, here’s 911 operator Sara’s takedown of my STFU with 911 thesis . . .

First off, in the call that you use as a demonstration of why callers should not follow the advice of a dispatcher is flawed. The dispatcher advised the callers to go back to a stated location. She (or he) DID NOT tell them to get out of their vehicle and place themselves in an unprotected situation.

I have been a 911 dispatcher for 24 years. We are trained to de-escalate a situation if at all possible. Therefore the advice that we give you is intended only to keep you or other persons at a scene from further harm. Therefore, I am going to tell you first to back away from an altercation. Then I am going to tell you to lay your weapon aside if at all possible so that my officers who are responding will not perceive you as part of the threat.

That being said, I have also been a gun owner for just as many years. I have carried my weapon many places and although I have known that it was handy I did not let it speak for me. In other words, I didn’t let the fact that I was armed increase my bravado so that an argument or incident escalated. I am not a small enough human being to need to do that. I have witnessed people just like you. People who feel more… more manly… more virile… like a bigger, badder person… just because they can point a gun at another human being and it gives them a sense of power.

So to all your readers, I hope that you scroll down through all the comments on here and take just a moment to read mine. If you are in a situation where you need to call 911, please PLEASE PLEASE!!! listen to what the dispatcher tells you to do. We do have training to give you the best advice possible to make for a positive outcome in a very negative situation. And the instructions that we give will be the same ones that we would give to our husbands, parents, and children. So would that not be the very best that we would want for them?

127 Responses to TTAG Reader: Follow the 911 Operator’s Instructions

  1. 911 operators are trained to do those things. A personal friend is in 911 dispatch.
    However…it’s a small…SMALL.. Grey area as the operator themselves are not present…
    YMMV. The choice is yours and yours alone whether or not you follow their instructions.

    • It reminds me of an old saying in aviation. If the pilot screws up, the pilot dies. If the air traffic controller screws up… the pilot dies.

      • Exactly. Generally the operator will help but sometimes they’ll tell you to do stuff you know is wrong….ultimately it’s your ass on the line, and “no one cares about you as much as you” – TTAG commenter who’s name I forget

      • “If you are in a situation where you need to call 911, please PLEASE PLEASE!!! listen to what the dispatcher tells you to do. We do have training to give you the best advice possible to make for a positive outcome in a very negative situation. And the instructions that we give will be the same ones that we would give to our husbands, parents, and children. So would that not be the very best that we would want for them?”

        So what skin do they have in the game? If I am calling 911, I literally have my own skin and all of my other organs on the table. Can I (or my next of kin) sue the operator if their advice turns out to be flawed? Do they carry 7 figure prof. liability policies, or do they have statutory immunity?

        • Don’t be an idiot. The fast majority of the time, the advice a 911 operator gives will be exactly what needs to be done. If it isn’t, and you have any shred of sense, you will know it, and it will be circumstantial. This “listen or don’t listen” stuff is ridiculous. Think critically, and do what is best in a situation. 99 times out of 100, that will be doing exactly what the operator says.

          I regards to them not having a horse in the race…you do realize that their career is on the line if they royally screw up, right?

        • @Dash – I’m not sure their career is on the line. How hard is it to fire a public employee where you’re from?

          Maybe it’s my independent nature, but I’m going to follow my own judgment when deciding whether to do what the 911 operator instructs. I get the impulse to be a “good little citizen”, but there are times when just doing what you’re told isn’t going to be enough.

        • “The fast majority of the time, the advice a 911 operator gives will be exactly what needs to be done. “

          {if !SARCASM SET COMMENT_MODE=On}

          Good grief. Really? Telling you to put your gun down with a violent home invader IN YOUR HOME is good advice?

          And you have the gall to open your comment by telling HIM to not be an idiot?

          Oh my word.

          You go on to say that their “skin” in the game is losing their CAREER?

          Are you REALLY equating losing one’s life or watching a loved one lose his/her life is equivalent to losing their job?

          Words fail me.

          Here is a friendly tip: don’t come out of the gate insinuating that you think person is an idiot and follow it up with some of the most ridiculous, nonsensical horse sh&t you could possibly type.

      • Bingo. During a verbal altercation I had with two punks who tried to flee after smashing our car in the middle of the night, the 911 operator advised my SO to get between them and I so it wouldn’t turn physical before the cops got there. She relayed that info to me and I told her to stay in the house. STUPID 911 operator advice. Right after that, I had six more guys lined up in the street, the punks’ friends, before the police finally sashayed down the street. It was fifteen minutes from time of call to time of police arrival, and the whole time I had only an escape route back into the house (no CCW at the time) to keep from getting my ass beat if it turned ugly. The entire time I was the one trying to defuse the situation by calming asking the punk driver to give me his license, registration and insurance info, which he refused to do right up to the point the police arrived. I will never place myself in a situation like that again, and I’m damned if I will take all of a 911 operator’s advice just because “they’re trained”.

      • Yeah, my second flight instructor’s first words of praise to me (he was a former USMC F4 pilot) after I aborted a takeoff in Cessna 152 managing to stop on the over-run about 20ft short of the fence.

        “Good news, you actually do have the makings of a pilot”
        “Huh? Why? The decision to abort and get it stopped?”
        “No. Cuz’ you stayed off the &%^$&*(() radio. Always remember, for the guys in the tower this is just a neat circus they get to watch.”

      • To stay on the aviation theme . . .

        1) Aviate
        2) Navigate
        3) Communicate

        The same basic principle applies here to.

    • I treat their “advice” as advice from any other REMF, wishful thinking that does not survive contact with reality,

  2. Still not buying it. I can’t see how someone with no perspective of a situation can give any advice beyond common sense.

    • just thinking out loud, here… In our efforts at trying to “just get along” with everyone else in this imperfect world, if you are calling something like this in, and speakng with 911…isnt it on you to provide the perspective they need in order to give the best to you that they can?

      • One of my few experiences with calling 911 was when my son, my third child was born. Well, he was in a hurry and his Mom went from 20 minutes between a couple of contractions and was considering heading to the hospital when it went to one contiunous contraction and ‘I’m not even gonna make it to the car…”

        So, there I am phone wedged between cheek and shoulder on one ear, and me assuming the catcher position arguing with the 911 operator who is refusing to believe that yes, the baby’s head is indeed crowning.

        “What? No, that can’t be it’s too soon.

        I’ve seen this twice before, yes it is

        “That can’t be right. Is anyone else there?”

        …. Truly, they’re crowining….

        “Where are the paramedics. What makes you think they’re crowning?

        I’m quite sure, kid’s got lots of hairr…,

        “Sir, you’re confused, I’m sure you’re just a bit panicky. Are the paramedics there?”

        ..no the paramedics haven’t arrived but we’ve been hearing a truck idle out front for the last 15 minutes ….His head is in my hands.

        “WHAT? Did you say they head’s out?”

        Yes, the head is out.. Yeah, really. Oh, here’s a paramedic now….

        Trying to communicate a developing situation to someone over the phone is tough. Just like you, they also have a tendency to initial disbelief to the unexpected….

      • Here’s a thought:

        The 911 operator’s job is to dispatch the cops (or fire, or ambulance). They are communications technicians.

        It is NOT their job, nor are they trained to (no matter what they might claim) in hostage negotiations or any other “street psychology.” They answer the phone, type info into a computer, and log things. That’s pretty much it.

        There is no way on this planet someone 1, 5 or 20 miles away can have sufficient information to give “good advice.”

        If you’ve got the time to explain it to them in that much detail, the situation does not fit the model of the original call that sparked the discussion.

        • Amen… Tell them to send the cops, and then put the phone down and deal with what is by definition a stressful and intense situation. The last thing you need to add to the mix is a telephone conversation.

        • They will also try to get information to assist the LEOs with their investigation, which is not necessarily helpful to you not getting killed.

          (whisper) “Someone is right outside my bedroom door. I can’t talk now.”

          Dispatcher: “Can you describe them? How many are there? Is there a car? Do you know who it is?” And on and on and on…

    • Scrubula,

      More importantly, who knows what bias the 911 operator has when you are talking? Who knows what bias the operator’s trainer had.

      As for his/her comment,
      “In other words, I didn’t let the fact that I was armed increase my bravado so that an argument or incident escalated.”
      That is as accurate as saying,
      “In other words, our wives don’t let the fact that they wear makeup and a skirt increase their carnal urges so that a sultry look or flirting incident escalates to sex.”

  3. Upon reading that “the gun makes you feel more manly…virile…blah blah blah” let’s me KNOW that the 911 Op is most likely an anti gun idiot playing their “I support gun ownership…BUT…” role. Again, we’re all much too stupid in this asshat’s estimation to know what we’re doing….ergo we must listen and comply with a person who is sitting VERY SAFELY inside a police department, police station or other protected environment.

    • Indeed, part of me wanted to stop reading and hit the back button on my browser once I got to that point.
      That just gets OLD AS HELL

    • “Upon reading that “the gun makes you feel more manly…virile…blah blah blah” let’s me KNOW that the 911 Op is most likely an anti gun idiot playing their “I support gun ownership…BUT…” role. Again, we’re all much too stupid in this asshat’s estimation to know what we’re doing”
      Bobby, I agree 100% up to your last sentence. Dropping into name calling and character assassination is the libtard/troll way of handling everything. If we step down to their level they win.

      • Well…I’m neither a “LibTARD” or a “Troll”…hate to say it but didn’t you just do what you accused me of?
        I mean, no hard feelings buddy but you shot yourself in the foot on that one. Don’ t worry, I’m 43, a 100% DAV and early retired from the USPS, I have a THICK skin. 😉

      • Well, I think Bobby’s Indian name may be “says out loud what other people have trained themselves not to.” No quarrel too much with the point, but “…then they win” is something of a stretch.

        My training held, but I was thinking the exact same word when I read it. It had simply never occurred to me that a 911 operator could have the ignorant and angry mindset that Anonymous TTAG Reader demonstrates with the sentence “…people just like you. People who feel more… more manly… more virile… like a bigger, badder person… just because they can point a gun at another human being…” At something of a loss for a better word to describe that.

        If I ever do have to call 911 over something like this, forewarned is forearmed about who might be on the other end of the line and what they are bringing to the table. Thanks for the public service warning, Anonymous TTAG Reader!

    • I hate it when people say stuff like “having a gun doesn’t make me feel more manly, because I’m better than that.” Do those people really think that we all carry guns to feel like badasses? Do they really think that we feel emasculated and have to clutch a firearm to reclaim our manliness?

      To those people who think that we do it for that reason, I ask: How many of use have gone out and escalated a normal disagreement into a fatal encounter just because we have a gun on us? (Not including the retired Floridian cops, of course)

      • It’s funny. I was talking to a very liberal gentleman that works for a state senator. He was very anti-gun. I asked him if he had ever gone shooting, and he said he had and he had enjoyed it. I asked him what he enjoyed about it, and he responded by saying that he could understand why people enjoy shooting, because it made him feel powerful, and he could understand how I could enjoy that sense of power and the rush that came with it. My jaw hit the table. In my 35 years of shooting I can’t remember ever picking up a gun to feel powerful, or even feeling more powerful because I had a gun. Reassured? Sure, I’ve felt reassured knowing I was carrying in certain circumstances, but never to feel powerful. He had the same idea about hunting, assuming I hunted because I got off on the power of taking a life. The success of the hunt is the thrill, the death is a footnote. I can’t imagine feeling so insignificant that an object would be able to make me feel powerful, or that killing something would elicit that same feeling. The firearm is a tool that is subject to the strength of my will, and I’m a successful hunter because of that same strength. Not the other way around in either case.

        • Amen and thank you. Anecdotes like these need to be repeated over and over on firearms civil rights websites, since a fair number of the more *active* antis have this mindset.
          Over time, many can be persuaded otherwise, but (1) it won’t happen in an eyeblink; and (2) some will never understand.

        • I’m afraid I’m going to have to blatantly use that comment for widespread dissemination across the internet.

          Bravo!

        • Right there with you, SC.

          I think it is a flaw in the progressive character. In general, the first reaction is how the actor would feel in a given circumstance. It is telling that the progressive’s view of gun owners is typically about being more ‘manly’, penis size, and how others cannot be trusted with guns. Says something about their own personal issues.

          I share your sentiment. From the first time I handled a firearm to now it has been about using the tool properly. First about learning, then about enjoyment of its use in sport, and finally the heavy weight of responsibility of its potential use in defense.

          I creeps me out a bit that progressives often jump right to the ‘bad’ things that can be done as their first thought. I think it shows the work of a disturbed mind.

        • That is why they are anti-firearm, due to the fact that if they had a firearm on them they would escalate to violence with the firearm.

        • Nearly every singe issue that liberals bring up is a simple case of projection combined with a superiority complex.

          The know they can’t be trusted not to escalate an argument to a shootout, if they possessed guns, and since they are superior to everyone else, neither can you.

          It works…simply replace the actions and the reactions in the above and it nearly explains liberalism for almost any situation.

  4. If I thought that the operator, talking on the phone, had a better understanding of the circumstances than I, who was on the spot, and could see ways to de-escalate the situation than could I, I would deferr to the operator. But neither is true.

    I will, of course, try to de-escalate, to the degree possible. And I will holster, prior to the arrival of the police, if it is feasible. If it is not, I will remain armed until the police have secured the area, trying to make it clear that I am not a threat to the officers and following their directions to the letter.

  5. I have some good friends who are 911 dispatchers. They are nice people. But…..
    I think I’ll stick with my training and my life experiences to guide my actions.
    Not some 3 ring notebook of what to do in situation A or B printed by some company in Paducah and sold to dispatch centers as the end all guide.

    • I’d be super surprised if there hasn’t been good info edited out of those binders in the interest of “not being liable if something goes wrong”.

  6. Probably one of TTAG’s worst “articles” yet.

    5 paragraphs to tell me I should do what the operator says because “we have training” while subtly insulting the reader because “they need a gun to make them feel like a man”.

    Not because you know.. maybe it’s a 100lb woman that Oh I don’t know.. can’t fight off a 300lb man?

    I recognize dispatchers have a frequently difficult job – you want to help someone yet you have no immediate means to do so other than essentially asking someone else to show up; so I get that you want to do the best you can.

    At the end of the day however; you can’t in fact actually DO anything for an immediate threat, and people should exercise common sense within their working knowledge of the law in order to protect their life, family, and property.

    • I think the addition of well placed quotation marks would clear up what is Robert’s writing and what is the 911 Op’s writing.

  7. The 911 operator makes some reasonable points; and TTAG is big enough to post his crit. Seems to me that the key issue is whether the 911-caller is:
    1) the victim under attack;
    2) an observer at a safe distance and too far to consider intervening; or,
    3) an observer at something of a safe distance and close enough to consider intervening.
    It seems to me that under #1 under NO circumstances should the first-responder dis-engage his attention to call 911. At most, maybe call upon someone else present to call 911 and engage the 911 operator. The victim’s exclusive business is to respond first. It’s very unlikely that the victim under attack will complete the briefing of the 911 operator and the police will arrive in time to resolve the problem. (It’s the victim’s shot to call whether the particular circumstances favor investing attention first in calling 911.)
    #2 is pretty much self-explanatory. If the caller does not feel in immediate jeopardy and does not see any reason to engage the attacker then he is free to give 50% of his attention to the 911 operator and 50% to observation and re-evaluation.
    #3 Is the most difficult. Most of the thought process must be on the decision to risk intervening; and, if so, how. Trying to obtain coaching from the 911 operator doesn’t seem productive for the reasons explained in the referenced posting. The situation is apt to be fluid, evolving into #1 or #2 and maybe back-and-forth. It’s the observer’s shot to call. If the situation doesn’t seem to be deteriorating at a rapid/accelerating rate and police service is apt to be good, it looks more like #2. If the situation is already severe or deteriorating rapidly/accelerating or the police service will be hopelessly delayed then it looks more like #1. The observer needs to concentrate on whether/how to intervene/retreat. He needs to wrestle with his own soul more than get coaching from the 911 operator who probably has different values.

  8. “People who feel more… more manly… more virile… like a bigger, badder person… just because they can point a gun at another human being and it gives them a sense of power.”

    So not only is she unqualified to be a 9-1-1 operator, she’s also unqualified to be a psychologist.

  9. First, I will take the 911 operators words under advisement, BUT not as direction.

    Second, in all (if not most) states, 911 operators have immunity. In this case in NJ
    http://9-1-1.com/wordpress/2012/03/16/n-j-supreme-court-statute-provides-immunity-to-911-operators/

    The Supreme Court of NJ said that 911 operators and their employers have immunity even in cases of “gross” neglegece in the mishandling of emergency calls. Essentially, just like the police, they have no duty to do their job. Every year 911 operators make thousands of mistakes. Search on “911 operator fatal error” and notice how many involve a shooting.

    I do not doubt many have saved lives, but I will not take their generic response for my specific situation.

    • You hit the nail on the head. “generic” Their responses have probably been looked over and picked through by lawyers time and again to weed out any suggestions that may lead to liability for the operators & their employers, resulting in a set of generic responses made to work pretty well most of the time, but never to be tailored to a specific situation. But guess what? Every situation you will ever be in is specific, organic, and fluid, the exact opposite of their responses. How can you trust them over your own instinct, especially when its YOUR LIFE on the line?

  10. If I have to call 911 all I want to hear on the other end of the line is “help is on the way.” Nobody is in a better position to call the shots than the person involved. Most everything else is, as the poster above said, common sense.

  11. “We do have training to give you the best advice possible…”

    You got that right – ADVICE – not lawful orders. Thanks, but I’ll probably pass on your “advice”.

  12. Sorry I’m not taking any advice from someone without skin in the game.

    Particularly when they are immune from litigation should you take their advice and it ends up getting you hurt or killed.

    • Bravo, Sir!

      IMHO 911 gets called when/if the opportunity presents itself and does NOT endanger 1) my family 2) innocent citizens 3) myself. Usually if a situation has deteriorated to a point where 911 has to be called then the $h!t is just about to hit the fan. Otherwise the 911 call is to report that some ignorant gangsta, thief or dopehead has two to three .45, .41 or .357/.38 holes in him.

  13. Well, this year one of our fair (not) legislators introduced a bill to make it a crime not to follow 911. The problem, first off, is that in Baltimore if you dial 911 there are times when you are put on hold. Second, I am sure 100% of 911 operators think they are giving good advice. The feedback process is what for bad advice?no sorry that turned out to be really bad advice. You’re fired. Except, not – the operator may never even know. 911 operators are not held accountable for bad advice (the police have no duty to protect) and it’s unlikely they would even know. Moreover, operators have been known to place (shock) the safety of officers above the safety of the victims. After all the police are there to investigate a crime, and you could be lying. Even worse, in an adrenaline pumped situation its unlikely you have given them all the info you are processing.

    The duty of the police is to investigate you when they show up, starting with the recorded audio admitting your guilt.

    I think you should consider 911 advice as a good suggestion but which may or may not fit the situation at hand. And always be mindful that we live in an adversarial legal system. The police are not your buddies, that’s not their job.

    • ‘…legislators introduced a bill to make it a crime not to follow 911.’

      Maybe they just wanted to cut down on call volume. I know if I could be prosecuted for calling 911 I’d avoid calling it.

      • Well I was taught to dial 911 and shove it in my pocket. Problem solved, you dont have to listen to advice from an armchair somewhere safe, and if the operator has 2 brain cells to rub together they can figure out whats going on.

  14. If is is a situation involving violence, self-defense and a gun, the only reason I am calling the operator is to get police there to back my story. If it is medical emergency, e.g. someone is having an allergic reaction and I don’t have an Epi Pen or someone is having a baby, I am all ears as they have the medical flipcards and I don’t.

  15. Sara seems to be taking this argument into a personal attack on the author. He was stating points about the drawbacks of 911, all of which I found to be logical, especially the idea of being distracted and having a limb tied up holding onto a phone as well as the fact it could be used against you by a prosecutor if you are forced to defend yourself. But of course, she has to fall into “guns make you feel like a big man” wormhole. At no point did he say to hang up the phone so you can tactical-out and sweep the house room to room looking to end someone. If someone was looking to be a hero and feel like a badass, would they really be stopping to call 911? They’re calling 911 because they want LE to respond and handle the situation, seeing as how that’s what they are trained (and paid) to do. The “I did not let it speak for me” comment immediately implies that someone (the writer, gun owners, men…someone) is predisposed to do their best Action Star impersonation everytime a motion light is tripped by a raccoon.

    As far as laying the gun aside so the cops don’t shoot you, great idea…what about the 5..or 10..or 20 minutes in between your initial call and responding officers arriving on the scene? Again, it’s not about being a hero, it’s about making sure yourself and your loved ones come out of the situation upright. Disarming yourself and banking on the cops getting their in time doesn’t seem to be the wisest of plans.

  16. I have been a 911 dispatcher for 24 years.

    That explains everything. It’s time to take your pension, your make-believe gun, your correspondence degree in psychology and go.

  17. The problem here is not all 911 operators are created equal. Some may ligitimitely give you sound advice while others may just want to make it to the end of their shift. You can’t trust someone not in your exact situation to possibly understand what you’re going through. I’ve got a lot more to lose than someone sitting in a room with a headset on.

  18. I feel the articles author is viewing 911 calls through rose colored glasses, While their advice may be sound for other emergencies (fire, accident) it would not apply to a dynamic situation involving an individual who wants to hurt you, the operator may have been trained in scenearios the “could” apply but nothing is going to replace your assesment of the situation in real time and what you feel you need to do to protect yourself or loved ones.

    I outright reject her statement of
    “I have witnessed people just like you. People who feel more… more manly… more virile… like a bigger, badder person… just because they can point a gun at another human being and it gives them a sense of power”
    Thats how the aggressor is likely feeling, imposing power over another, otherwise, they would choose another avenue of crime that doesnt directly involve intimidating the victim. (as a side note, how do you know what someone is feeling? are you an X-men? Jean? is that you?)
    It further taints her view of the situation, if she applies that outlook upon future calls she recieves, it could be detrimental to the victim.
    I will not hand the keys to my safety and survival to someone on the other end of a phone.
    Its just another case of “Im in charge, do as I say” while taking no personal responsiblity if their actions lead to the death of the one seeking help.

  19. Just because you’ve been giving shitty advice for 24 years, and you’ve been trained to give shitty advice, doesn’t mean your shitty advice isn’t, you know, shitty.

  20. With all due respect, I think there’s a very small window between not being in any danger and being too busy to call 911 until you’re done taking care of business yourself, assuming you have the tools to do so. If someone is in my house I’m not going to cower in a closet with the 911 operator. If someone assaults me on the street I’m not going to ask him to stop while I call 911. I understand that it’s the operator’s job to deescalate the situation if possible and I don’t have a problem with that. But if I call 911 the situation has already deescalated because the felonious activity has been stopped with hot lead, or the situation isn’t likely to escalate in the first place.

    And just my 2 cents, those of us who carry legally find that carrying a deadly weapon makes us less confrontational not more. Those who like the feeling of power a firearm gives them have no respect for the law or for others and will find themselves on the wrong side of the law sooner or later.

  21. “I’ve been a dispatcher 24 years”.

    Oh yeah? When are you going to get good at it?

    Among other things, you are graded by your supervisor’s reviews that look at how closely you follow a script. There is an assailant present? Read card 12. A robbery is occurring? Read card 24.

    Dispatchers are not going to deviate from the script or their QA/QI scores go down and they don’t get a raise or promotion.

    So guess what, I’ll think on my feet after I hang up. No need to listen to the robot.

    • Yes.

      But no.

      Don’t hang up until Police/Fire/Ambulance arrive. You don’t have to chat with them, but don’t hang up.

  22. The dispatcher advised the callers to go back to a stated location. She (or he) DID NOT tell them to get out of their vehicle and place themselves in an unprotected situation.

    ..which is exactly what the caller in the referenced NEN (not 911) call did: stopped where he was, then after ending the call, turned around and headed back toward his vehicle.

    In other words, I didn’t let the fact that I was armed increase my bravado so that an argument or incident escalated. I am not a small enough human being to need to do that. I have witnessed people just like you. People who feel more… more manly… more virile… like a bigger, badder person… just because they can point a gun at another human being and it gives them a sense of power.

    Which is why, in the referenced NEN (not 911) call, the caller A) didn’t knowingly approach the person about whom he was calling (and in fact, completely lost sight of that person during the course of the call), and B) didn’t un-holster his firearm until the person about whom he had called approached, accosted, and sucker-punched him, knocking him to the ground – and yet still didn’t un-holster his firearm until that person had bounced the back of his skull on the concrete and grass several times – and yet still didn’t un-holster his firearm until that person saw it, and tried to take it.

    Gosh, that’s some kind of bravado.

  23. At least she didn’t use the word “penis” anywhere, though “virile” evokes the same image. If she wanted her advice to be rejected out of hand, that’s an excellent way to do it.

    I’m betting 911 operator training is at least somewhat geared to considering the safety of both the victim and the perp, going for the lowest body count regardless of who. I’m guessing they are also trained to heavily weigh officer safety. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but as others say chances of seeing it through without harm to me and my family will, in many situations, be best if I have two hands free and am fully focused on what is happening around me.

  24. I’ll use common sense.

    I’ll also choose my words carefully.

    “Back against the wall” and “I’ve retreated as far as I can” were a couple of phrases used a few years ago when I hypothetically might have called 9-1-1 to report a drunken (now former) spouse threatening to kill me.

    The sad part was that I had to go out and meet them almost a block away because they couldn’t find my condo after I was confident she had left.

    Common sense goes a long way. I’ve called a number of times on everything from drunk drivers to burglaries to disorderly subjects to domestics and have yet to encounter any operators who weren’t professional, helpful and at times, reassuring.

    John

  25. Well, if you do not want to get drilled with 48 laser assisted assault rifles then run over by an MRAP, you had better, at a minimum, take into account the 911 operators advice.

        • “Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death. There is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.”
          ― Robert A. Heinlein

    • ” …laser assisted assault rifles…”

      Are those the models with the end-line rotary girders?

      I heard those things shoot .30 calibers a second.

      • Hmm, no. Try improving your sarcasm skills. When you sound like a true idiot, it well, sounds sounds like you’re an idiot. So take it easy Lee Harvey. Go back to straight comments, maybe you will have better luck.

        • Heel: I got it instantly. So did 99.9999% of the other readers. That basically leaves you as the sole outlier.

        • hahaha so true JohnO… there’s always one idiot that thinks everybody else is an idiot.

  26. Not impressed. The dispatcher goes on a rant, and does not address any of the very valid points raised in the original article. If this author wants to be taken seriously, she will need to address each point, and make the case for how following her partially informed advice works better for the person on the phone.

    Anything short of that is exactly what it appears to be, the raving lunacy of an anti-gun nut.

    • “If this author wants to be taken seriously, she will need to address each point, and make the case for how following her partially informed advice works better for the person on the phone.

      Anything short of that is exactly what it appears to be, the raving lunacy of an anti-gun nut.”

      Bingo.

      That whole bit had all the emotional bleating halmarks we have come to expect, up to and including the ever popular “appeal to my own personal authority” fallacy.

  27. I never listen to advise which begins with “I’ve been doing this for *insert number of years*.”

  28. How bout we take care of ourselves and if we make it through the “altercation” we call 911 to send the clean up crew. Donuts are on me.

  29. If I ever need to call 911 for a no shit home invasion, DGU or similar scenario, I will tell the dispatcher to get someone rolling to my pos and then put the phone down so they can get a location fix and hear what is going on. I am not interested in what “advice” they have for me.

    • Agreed. Maybe the operator can use that descalation training on whomever is trying to cause me harm. If I’m the one calling 911 the chances of my being the aggressor are pretty small.

  30. I have a much better solution to the 911 operator’s concerns: secure the situation yourself before calling 911. Then the situation will be much more stable when police finally arrive.

  31. Mike Bloomberg is that you? We know what’s good for you, no need to decide for yourself.

    I had my wife call 911 once, the alarm went off at 3:30 am, I grabbed my nightstand gun, we got our daughter to our room, I checked the upstairs rooms and when they were clear, I went down to turn off the alarm, it said the motion sensor in the basement was tripped. I just went back upstairs and watched the stairway waiting for the cops. During the call, I told my wife to tell the operator I was armed and to describe me, the operators advice was for me to “put the gun down”, this was about 2 minutes before the cops showed up. Someone could eaily make it from the basement door to our room in a few seconds, if I took her advice and a couple dirtbags decided to bum rush me, I might have been screwed. As it was, the cops showed, I left the gun with my wife and let them in, they cleared the basement and luckily it was a false alarm.

    To this day I get mad thinking about a 911 operator telling my wife that I should put my gun away when we were unsure if intruders were in the house in the middle of the night, so with all due respect Sara, I think I’ll use my best judgment and you can work on getting the police there ASAP, kay?

  32. Yep, just obey to whatever the “experts” say without question. Just like the poor souls in the Twin Towers did on 9/11 when they were told to go back to their offices and not worry about a thing.

  33. I am going to tell you first to back away from an altercation. Then I am going to tell you to lay your weapon aside if at all possible Then the crooks will kill you as the cops will not come to the correct address anyway. I have been very close to a DGU. If you see the event coming, get your weapon ready and take cover. Put the crooks in the light and you in the shadows. Crooks operate in multiples of 3 to 4. Have wife look out behind you. Give wife one of the guns and have her on the phone with the incompetent cops to guide them to the correct address of which they will just drive by. Do not leave your defensive position with multiple crooks milling about the outside of the house, especially when you will have to carry your 2 year old daughter. You will be slow and vulnerable. Do not listen to police morons on the phone. If the crooks come at you with weapons, open up with the 870

  34. If I ever get into the position that I can hand the phone to the perp and let the 911 operator talk to them, I’m shooting. Period.

    Advice be damned – I’m not allowing the situation to get to that point. In the final analysis, I’m the only one who’s looking out for me.

  35. If I’m still in a situation where decisions need to be made, I’m not going to be on the phone. 911 to call the cavalry and then hunker down until the cavalry shows up. Once I have time to consider the advice of the 911 operator, I don’t need it anymore.

  36. A lot of people died on Sept. 11th, 2001 in the World Trade towers when 911 operators advised them to stay put and not evacuate. So much for their expert training for all situations. And as for their being on the job for 24 years, that often translates to one year’s experience and 23 years of repetition. I have had to call 911 maybe a dozen times in 40 years for family medical emergencies, traffic accidents (mine and other people’s), robberies, and injuries. I’ve been fortunate to mostly get professional people that did their best to get help there ASAP. I don’t recall being advised by them to do anything different than what I was already doing. But I have never had to call for help where I was in fear of being attacked or in immediate danger from a “bad guy”. That might be a totally different experience for them as well as me.

  37. This is me as a 911 operator (simulation only) – giving real advice:

    Anonymous: Wasup… this is 911!

    Caller: I have someone pounding on the door of my house – they are screaming and cussing. The guy says he will shoot my a$$.

    Anonymous: Really?! Wow. That’s crazy. You should go find a weapon or something for defense. Do you have a gun? I would go get that right now if that was me. I’m going to give you some time to handle this situation because the police are probably at frank’s donuts and that is like 10 minutes away even at 90 mph. Good luck buddy.

    5 Minutes later

    Caller: I shot the guy! I shot the guy! I can’t believe it.

    Anonymous: Whoa Whoa! easy there. I’m just letting you know – that 5 minutes ago I clicked pause on this recording because I knew you would start running your mouth off right after your adrenaline dump and the police will be asking for this tape later on, and also because I’m on your side – giving you real advice in lieu of those other ridiculous 911 callers who just want to be entertained, want to know what is going on, and distract you with ridiculous questions at the wrong time.

    Caller: He was busting through the door – the guy had a knif-

    Anonymous: Yea – I don’t want to hear about it. Listen, I have three buttons here called “ambulance,” “fire,” and “police.” I have clicked the “police” button. So they are on their way. When they arrive DO NOT RUN YOUR MOUTH OFF. You are going to want to go ahead and STFU. Tell them this only: This guy was busting through my front door and I was in fear of my life and reacted in self defense. Point to the intruder’s weapon. That’s it. If the officer asks you other questions and he will – just say this: Officer, I will cooperate fully and provide a statement after I have consulted with my lawyer. If the officer says that he will arrest you if you don’t answer so and so question – don’t play that game. STFU until you talk to your lawyer – who cares if he arrests you. We have a about 1 or 2 minutes before the police arrive. Do you have any pets??

    Caller: Yes, I have a dog in the front yard.

    Anonymous: Really??! you are going to want to grab that dog right away and put him in the back yard on a leash or chain – do it now.

    Caller: Ok, Its done.

    Anonymous: Great. Cops will be there very soon. At this time, if you have a weapon you used for self defense put it down somewhere – don’t be holding it when they bust in through the door.

    Caller: Ok got it.

    Anonymous: Ok (psst – were back on), Thanks for calling 911 – we appreciate your call and know we are providing a service to taxpayers and that you pay our salaries. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?

    Caller: No.

    Anonymous: Ok – you have a great day Sir!

    • Fer sure.

      There is a difference between “sharing hard truths” and “insulting the people you’re trying to convince.” As in this example, supposed mind reading is frequently a factor with the second choice.

  38. “I think the thing that upsets me the most about this article is that it is written in such a way that what you are saying appears credible…”

    Truth hurts…don’t it?

  39. Sounds like a Liberal politician patronizing the lower class citizens.
    You are not required by law or for any reason required to call 911.
    I would call 911 because it is an easy number to remember just to call for back up or an ambulance.
    I will never take the advice of 911 unless I am needing advice to administer first aid or birth a baby.

  40. Remember that MDA Bloomberg video that just came out with the angry guy breaking into the woman and child’s house?
    The woman describes the situation. The only thing the 911 operator asks is about a restraining order, not calls to arm or retreat. Exhibit A. How’d that scenario end? We have thousands of years of senses and reactions in our DNA; follow them in these instances. It’s what enabled your ancestors to survive. Worry about the legality when you and your family survive.

  41. For the 911 operator who wrote the asinine posting:

    http://www.guns.com/2014/08/04/911-operator-tells-home-invasion-victim-to-put-her-gun-down-ill-put-the-gun-down-when-i-see-the-police-video/

    Another goodie:

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/audio/10552931/

    ‘The boy’s sister called 911 to report that someone was banging on the door trying to get in. She said she was hiding in her bedroom closet but told the dispatcher that her brother had a gun.

    After the brother got on the phone, the dispatcher ordered him to put down his shotgun.

    “I don’t know how many it was (who broke in). Just one came around the corner. I got one more in the chamber. I’m going to shoot again,” the boy said.

    “Do not, while I’m on the phone, do not fire that firearm, OK?” the dispatcher said.

    “What if another one comes in the house, ma’am?” he asked.

    Let me know, OK, if you see anybody. I will let you know (when a deputy gets to the house),’ the dispatcher responded.’

    You, woman, are freaking useless!

  42. Wow, how shocking! A government thug telling you “obey my orders peasant”. I’ve never heard that before.
    A 911 operator doesn’t have the authority to give you a lawful order so in this instance you don’t have to obey your government master. Do what you think is a good idea.

  43. Why does the 911 OP care?

    Do your job, if the caller chooses to listen, great, if not, who gives a damn.

    Luckily I’ve only called 911 once and hopefully will never have to again, but if I do it’s to tell the operator to send cops, medics, fireman because of blank emergency and then the phone is leaving my hand and I am going to do what I can to help resolve said emergency.

    • Has anyone been a 911 operator? It seems clear to me, based on all the released recordings I have heard, that the operators job is to keep the caller on the line until police arrive. They seem to direct the conversation in a manner that will keep the caller’s attention to the conversation. This could be very dangerous. It is against the law in many places to drive a car while on a cell phone. Imagine opperating a firearm while answering stupid questions from the 911 person. No wonder they always ask you to put away your weapon.

    • Yes! Isn’t it amazing how the Zimmerman recordings were used to demonize him as well as clear him. Had he never called the police, this whole narrative of profiling, racism, following, would never have popped up. What you would have is a dead man who had no gun and an injured man who defended himself in his own neighborhood with a gun. Might not have even gone National and he likely would have never been arrested.
      If you are innocent, it is not up to you to provide evidence of such. Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…and everywhere else for that matter.

  44. They are there to get help to you, First.
    Your description of the situation over the phone during an adrenalin dump, her interpretation, then your interpretation of her suggestions is not ideal.
    Your on scene assesment of what you should do. A reminder to put the gun down when you see red/blue flashing lights is a good one.
    Train, run scenarios, act, call 911, but don’t wait for advice to act.

  45. I read up to this“…people just like you. People who feel more… more manly… more virile… like a bigger, badder person… just because they can point a gun at another human being…” and then knew the rest was going to be worthless. I still read it anyways…

    Dear 911 Operator. I’m sure you are very good at your job. I’m sure you are a gun owner and you go to the range once per year and blast through a box of hollowpoints and proclaim yourself an expert at directing people during a shootout while on the phone. I’m sure you tell your cop friends this too. I’m sure they believe you, after all, you shoot more rounds than they do each year. I’m here to educate you though. The most critical time I will ever need to talk to you our conversation will be short because I’m either about to go confront whoever just broke into my house or I already have and the cops either need to come get a body or yank some lucky still breathing fool off of my property. I don’t need your advice. I think I’ll remember the experience I gained during my time in the military and, all due respect, ignore yours. Just tell the cops not to shoot the naked guy with the gun…I’m sure I’ll be conspicuous enough.

    Thanks

  46. Dispatchers are looking out for someone’s safety – the Officer.

    Sorry 911 dispatcher, this is a FAIL for you. You advise the Officer that the caller will stow his firearm once he feels safe doing so, and will then approach the Officer. Nobody wants LEOs to get hurt, but let’s face it, policing is dangerous work.

    For instance, if I am on the INSIDE OF A DOOR and calling about a burglar, the burglar is going to be on the OUTSIDE OF THE DOOR, therefore the Officer can handle that. If the burglar is INSIDE THE DOOR then I will be reporting “shots fired at a burglar” and whatever situation that produced. I can guarantee you that the likelihood of me being armed and in the same room with a threat, is fantastically small.

  47. Scenario 1:
    Caller: “I have a gun.”
    911: “Put it down.”

    Scenario 2:
    Caller: “Can I shoot the intruder?”
    911: “I cannot give you any advice.”

    Double standard much?

  48. The 911 operator has no authority over you. Repeat, no authority. If you want to ask for advice feel free to do so. Just remember tape is rolling and that NBC will edit it to inflame debate as necessary.
    Maybe we would be better served if they merely directed cops and took information down as needed.

  49. When presented with an approach like this I always like to ask this:

    “What happens to you if your advice gets me killed?”

    If your answer is nothing (because presumably you are protected from any liability), I think you know how much weight your advice will carry with me. I don’t call 911 for advice, counseling, or therapy I call because I need the assistance of a peace officer. No disrespect, but don’t be surprised when you find out that I care about my own life more than you do.

  50. 911 operators are nothing but an answering service not qualified to give advice to anyone. There operators are not on the scene, you are, these operators and the police are not first responders, you are! You and you alone are responsible for your safety and well being, not some entity on the other end of a telephone. Are you required to follow their instructions? Definitely NOT!

  51. Seriously, who the F calls 911 for “advice” ever? If I’m calling 911, it’s because I need whatever agency is applicable to the problem, be it fire, EMS, or PD. I don’t need their advice on how to deal with the problem. Not to mention that they do not truly “listen” to what you say half the time. Example – I called 911 to report that my neighbor had died. This was a 90 year old lady, dead in a locked up non-air conditioned house in a CA summer for 2+ weeks. She was a gray, furry (from some freaky mold) mummy by the time I found her. The dispatcher asked if I had tried CPR or checked for a pulse to be sure she was dead cause “You could be incorrect sir”. And then proceeded to dispatch EMS, who never even touched the body. Not only that, they also had the nerve to get pissed at me for calling them out to the scene and wasting resources cause “the woman is obviously dead”.

  52. I have carried a pistol for over 30 years, open and concealed. I have come to understand that those who believe the “makes you feel bigger and badder” crowd are simply projecting their inadequacies. I have had to draw my weapon only a few times in my life and thankfully never had to shoot anyone. Having said that I am damned glad I had a weapon all three times, once was an attempted robbery. He had a raven 25 auto, I had and enfield 455 revolver when he saw my pistol pointed at him he threw his in the river and ran the other direction. The forest ranger I talked to said he had robbed 6 or 7 other camps before he got to me. Another was an attempted break in
    They had stolen fire axes from a school and were using them to chop thru the rear door of the building when they got the hole big enough one of them stuck his head thru the hole right into the barrel of my K frame 357, needless to say they all 5 of them left in a hurry. When I got 911 on the line they told me to see if they were indian and if they were to hang up and call the tribal police. The third time was simply an arrogant drunk beating on people and when he saw my weapon he decided rightfully he needed to move along.

  53. Called on a cellphone 911 and the dispatcher told me to call the sheriff. Huh? “Hey I’m in the city. My address is…” Was told again to call the sheriff, not the city. Picked up the landline, called 911 and got a response.
    Turned out, my call pinged on a cellphone tower that was outside of the city limits. All the dispatcher cared about was that. Never mind checking and address or asking where I was.
    Nothing happened of course.

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