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Crime News CrimeCon At Home

'You're Calling 911 For This?' From Doritos To Lawn Care, 911 Dispatchers Recount Their Most Bizarre Calls 

Appearing at a CrimeCon panel about Oxygen's new show "911 Crisis Center," dispatcher supervisor Charline Polk says that calls over food orders are her "favorite." 

By Gina Tron
Charline Polk Describes Her Most Difficult Call

Tragedy and drama are a regular part of the life of a 911 dispatcher, but they too can be shocked. 

Adam Kassen, executive producer and director of Oxygen's new show “911 Crisis Center,”  and Oxygen.com’s Stephanie Gomulka joined two real-life dispatchers from the show to talk about their work — including some of their most surprising calls — during a panel for CrimeCon at Home: Holiday Escape, which aired on Friday.

Dispatcher Jessica Merkosky and Supervisor Dispatcher Charline Polk discussed how they handle high-stress calls about everything from murder to car crashes. While they do their best to keep calm in order to save lives, they noted they get their fair of calls that surprise them too. Often, because the calls aren't for legitimate emergencies. 

Merkosky said it “blows my mind” when people call 911 over “silly things.” 

One such call was when an adult man called her to report that his brother ate his bag of Doritos. 

She recalled another instance of when a caller arrived home from vacation only to realize that their neighbor mowed their lawn.

“They were unhappy because they cut the grass too low than what they would normally cut it,” Merkosky said in clear astonishment. “It’s like, ‘You’re calling 911 for this? They were trying to be nice!’”

Polk said that her favorite type of bizarre calls are the ones connected to restaurants and eateries. She rehashed some of her favorites: “‘I didn't get cheese on my cheeseburger.’ ‘My pizza didn’t have the right toppings.’ ‘I didn’t get enough fries. ‘They forgot my ketchup.’”

Yes, these are real calls.

“Really? Over 911?” Polk reflected. “This is what you’re doing?! Those are my favorite.”

Meet the Dispatchers at Chagrin Valley Dispatch

On a more serious note, both Polk and Merkosky recounted the shock of received 911 calls from their own family members. Polk took an emergency call from her own father who wasn’t sure if he was having a heart attack or a stroke.

“I hear my father's voice and I went into daughter mode for two seconds and I said, ‘Daddy?’”

But, she said she immediately regained her professional composure.

“I had to put being a daughter on the side and go into dispatcher mode,” she said.

Merkosky too had a similarly harrowing experience. She once took a call from her brother who had experienced a head-on collision on his way to work during a snowstorm.

“It’s terrifying but you just have to put your dispatcher hat on and do your job,” she reflected.

 "911 Crisis Center" began airing on Oxygen earlier this month. You can catch new episodes Saturdays at 9/8c. 

CrimeCon At Home: Holiday Escape is produced by Red Seat Ventures and presented by Oxygen.