So I used to work for an information service related to any kind of government procedures in general, aimed at citizens.
It was a short, 3-digit phone number. The thing is that those 3 digits were almost identical to the emergency number, especially when pronounced, so a lot of the calls were emergency related (I still don’t understand why they haven’t changed the number, especially when safety is at stake). For safety reasons we couldn’t directly tranfer these calls there anymore, because in the process some of them got lost and the emergency service had no way to know. Sometimes when we tried to explain this was not the emergency service and give them the correct number, they were so nervous and furious after the long queue that they didn’t understand. Other times, calls got transfered from the emergency service to ours when they didn’t consider it an emergency, so we had to deal with the often angry citizen and provide general police or hospital contact information.
One day a call comes through, with the following recording (callers are asked to briefly state what they need so that they get transfered to the right team): “I’m being murdered”. I immediately think I heard wrong, and so I start the conversation with generic protocol:
-Good morning, I’m [name], what can we help you with? -I’m being murdered. -Is this an emergency? If so you need to call [emergency number]! -I’m being murdered… [gibberish]. -Sir, you need to call [spells emergency number], it’s the emergency service. We can’t directly transfer you. -I already called. -You already called? What did they tell you? -I can’t… I’m being murdered… [more gibberish, lots of “I can’t”s]. -Hold on, please don’t hang up. I’m getting help.
He sounded strangely calm, almost whispering. I didn’t hear any panting or outside noises. I called my supervisor without leaving my place (I didn’t want to put him on hold), took note of his phone number, the call ID, and started searching for the police directory at the same time. My supervisor saw it was urgent and came quick, and I explained what was happening. She got on the phone and I stayed around, hands shaking. These are some pieces of conversation I heard her saying:
“What do you mean they’re murdering you? Who? What is happening to you?” “A head injury? He’s bleeding” “And where is your home?” “Why can’t you call [emergency number]? Give us your adress, we will call on your behalf” “A mafia???”
She had to insist a lot to get his location. Shortly after the mafia stuff was mentioned, other supervisors had already called the emergency service. She told him an ambulance was arriving, and although he kept repeating he was being murdered we couldn’t really help and didn’t know if it was a joke, and he was also not giving us any more useful information, so she had to hang up.
I never really knew what happened to that man and I hate to leave you with the cliffhanger, but it didn’t really sound like a joke to me. That same morning I also got an angry racist man and somehow three calls about dead pets, one of them murdered by a neighbour by an intentional headshot. Needless to say I had to take a lot of bathroom breaks to calm down that day.