Rude 911 Operator? Here’s why…


Did you notice your 911 operator came across as a little abrasive and thorny the last time you called? Some might go as far to say they were being downright rude. You undoubtedly wondered why this perfect stranger, who was supposed to help, was acting so aggressive. To help you find out, we set out to discover exactly why 911 operators are sometimes labeled rude. 

A 911 operator may come across as rude because of the stressful job they have or because they need certain information from the caller quickly that they are not receiving. Additionally, other causes include; the fact they’re overworked and underpaid, and they have a tight time schedule to keep.

The question as to why 911 operators might come across as rude is surprisingly popular online. Many people have taken notice and want to know. That’s where we come in. In the sections below, we will dive into 5 of the most common reasons why 911 operators leave the impression that they’re rude and try to assess if they actually are or not. So with that, let’s dive right in!

How Stressful is it to Be a 911 Operator?

Before we jump headfirst into why 911 operators can sometimes seem like they’re rude, it would be a good idea to get a basic grasp on what their job is like. More specifically, on how stressful their job can be. 

Being a 911 operator has been described as one of the most stressful jobs a person can take. They, quite literally, deal with situations where people’s lives hang in the balance every single day while being forced to work ridiculously long, gruesome hours in a place where the smallest misstep can have huge consequences.  

In fact, it’s not uncommon for 911 operators to develop disorders like PTSD overtime due to their constant contact with emergency situations where they have to act quickly and decisively. It’s that kind of pressure that most people never have to deal with that makes the job so difficult.  

It’s no wonder they may seem like they’re on edge. However, you should know that most 911 calls are recorded, so in the event you need to recall the event, there should be a recording. I wrote an article on whether 911 calls are actually recorded, including how long they are on file, and where to get access to them.

Why Do 911 Operators Seem So Rude? 

Now that we’ve touched on the basic reasons 911 operators can sometimes seem rude and taken a look at their job behind the scenes, let’s explore these ideas in more detail. 

The list below will break down some of the most common reasons why 911 operators can seem a little rude in full detail: 

  • Stress from the job can be heard in their voices: From the outside you may wonder what could be so stressful about taking calls all day. Still, upon closer examination you will find that those calls aren’t your typical lot. They can be life or death situations where the operator plays a big role in the outcome. This may lead them to press harder. 
  • They may need critical information quickly they aren’t receiving: Sometimes the person calling into 911 can get sidetracked from telling the operator what they need to know to send help. This can be because the caller is confused after an accident, is a child or for a whole host of other reasons. Either way, the operator may become stern. 
  • They’re often overworked and underpaid: The median salary for a 911 operator is $38,010 in the US. When you consider that many of them–especially in the post covid world–can work for 12 hours a day, that doesn’t really amount to much. When a person is overworked and underpaid frustration can easily leak and come across as rude. 
  • Time is really important to their duties: When it comes to being a 911 operator, time is truly of the essence. Operators need to move through calls quickly and efficiently so that they can help others calling into the line. It can be particularly frustrating when people accidentally call 911, and they are unable to assist other callers.
  • They actually are rude: Fortunately, this usually isn’t the case. Most 911 operators have big enough hearts to do a stressful, thankless job in the name of helping those in need. Still, there are bad apples in every orchard. Sometimes the particular 911 operator really is rude. That said, it’s not an assumption to make lightly as there are many explanations.

To create a truly exhaustive list would probably fill at least a dozen more blog posts. Suffice to say, most of the time when a 911 operator comes across as rude it is not because they actually are. It has a lot more to do with the nature of their job and the pressures they are put under as well as their need to get information as quickly as possible.

Are 911 Operators Actually Rude?

The cynics out there may be wondering if these are just excuses and whether it’s possible that 911 operators just tend to be rude people in general. Let’s dispel this myth quickly. 

Most of the time when a 911 operator seems like they’re rude, they’re actually just trying to do their job efficiently. While rude operators do exist, most of them are attempting to find out the information they need to help the person as quickly as possible while dealing with the pressures of their stressful jobs.   

So Really, Why Was My 911 Operator So Rude?

The truth is–unless you were really unlucky–your 911 operator was not trying to be rude in the slightest bit. It could be that they were experiencing stress, it could be that they were on a tight schedule or it could have just been them trying to probe for the information they needed as efficiently as possible. All of these possibilities are more likely than them actually being rude. 

So next time you deal with an operator, be sure to show them patience and understanding while you attempt to make their job as easy for them as possible by providing the right info.

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