This American Life
This American Life
Sep 10, 2023
809: The Call
Play • 1 hr 2 min

One call to a very unusual hotline, and everything that followed.

  • Prologue: Ira talks about a priest who set up what may have been the first hotline in the United States. It was just him, answering a phone, trying to help strangers who called. (2 minutes)
  • Act One: The Never Use Alone hotline was set up so that drug users can call if they are say, using heroin by themselves. Someone will stay on the line with them in case they overdose. We hear the recording of one call, from a woman named Kimber. (13 minutes)
  • Act Two: An EMT learns he was connected to the call, in more ways than he realized. (16 minutes)
  • Act Three: Jessie, who took the call, explains how she discovered the hotline. She keeps in touch with Kimber. Until one day, Kimber disappears. (16 minutes)
  • Act Four: We learn what happened to Kimber after she called the line. (10 minutes)

Transcripts are available at

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