Off Limits

Shop till you drop

Callers with real emergencies were having trouble getting through, the DPD said, because others were using 911 as though it were directory assistance (hey, Denver residents do pay for the emergency line on their Qwest bills), filling the line with questions about phone numbers and directions. As evidence of this overload, last week the DPD released a tape of 2003's greatest hits (so far). Of course, just a few days later, Ashley Childs's call moved to the top of the charts with a real bullet; DPD chief Gerry Whitman played the tape of her conversation with a 911 operator at a hastily convened news conference on July 7.

The contents of that conversation were deadly serious -- and provided a grim contrast to the usual fare that clogs the emergency line. Have a malfunctioning cell phone? Call 911. Need a worm vanquished from your home? Call 911. Want your neighbor to trim her trees? Call 911.

Need a break? Read these edited-for-space transcripts of recent 911 calls to the DPD.

Caller: I lost my wallet at Cougar Run Elementary in the Porta Potti in the park.

911: Okay. You dropped your wallet down the Porta Potti?

Caller: That park right next to it.

911: But did you drop your wallet down the Porta Polly...Potti?

Caller: Yes.

911: Uh, was it right on the school?

Caller: Pretty much.

911: Let me give you the number for DPS security, because we're not going to go retrieve -- you know, we can't go in there.

Caller: Yeah.

911: Is there a number on the Porta Potti?

Caller: Uh, yeah, there is a 1-800....

911: Call that number.

Caller: Yeah, but they're closed, so what was the other number?

911: Okay, I doubt they're going to go in there. The DPS security are not going to climb in; I can tell you that right now. There's a way to empty and sift through. Just call that number; keep on trying. I assure you no one is going to take it -- it's safe there.

Caller: I want you to connect me with somebody that can.... My wife, my fiancée, has just taken food out of bleach.

911: Let me connect you with the paramedics, sir.

Caller: No! I don't...okay. I just want to....

[Connecting to the paramedics.]

Caller: How much bleach can a man eat?

Paramedic: What!?

Caller: How much bleach can a girl eat?

Paramedic: I don't understand what you're asking. How much what can they eat?

Caller: Well, I had my teeth soaking in some bleach.

Paramedic: Bleach?

Caller: Yeah, my false teeth.

Paramedic: Right.

Caller: My fiancée come home, and then she ate some turkey out of it. She put turkey in it, thinking it was water or olive oil or somethin', and she ate a bunch of it, and she's been coughin', and I talked to Poison Control, and the girl would not tell me how much bleach a person can consume without being in trouble. And then she wouldn't even give me her name.

Paramedic: I can't give you that information either, sir, because I don't know it. Poison Control is the one who knows that. Um, how much was in the cup?

Caller: Aw, well, it was, uh, full.

Paramedic: And did she drink the whole thing, or did she...?

Caller: No, no she just soaked her food in it, and then...

Paramedic: She soaked her food in the cup of bleach?

Caller: Yes.

Paramedic: Okay.

Caller: I want to know how much bleach a person can consume....

Paramedic: I don't know. The only person that has that is Poison Control.

Caller: Can't never could do nothin'. Give me back to the girl who could give me to you.

911: I'm on the line. Paramedic, what's the advice then?

Paramedic: I can only tell him if he's having some trouble breathing, coughing, then the paramedics should come out and look at her.

Caller: She's coughing.

Paramedic: Okay. Do you want the paramedics to come out and look at her?

Caller: No, I just wanted to know....

Paramedic: Does she want the paramedics to come out and look at her?

Caller: No, she says she's fine.

Paramedic: Call this number. Are you ready to write it down?

Caller: No, I want you to connect me.

Paramedic: I can't connect you. I can give you the number to call.

Caller: I don't have a pen.

Paramedic: Well, I don't know what to tell you then, sir.

Caller: Give it to me.

Callee: Hello.

911: Hi. Somebody there called 911 and hung up?

Callee: Yeah. Who's this asshole in the helicopter flying around here at treetop level?

911: Probably the police.

Callee: Do they have to fly that low at this time of night?

911: Um, they might be looking for somebody in the area.

Callee: Tell them to use a squad car.

911: They can't see as well from a squad car.

Callee: What?

911: They can't see as well from there. Do you want the phone number for compliments and complaints on the helicopter?

Callee: What good is flying around and shining a light on the ground gonna do?

911: Would you like the number or not, sir?

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