Area 911 dispatchers remind you to not believe everything you read online. Some misinformation has recently reappeared on social media channels, blogs, and memes that claims:
“If you need to call 911 but are scared to because of someone in the room, dial and ask for a pepperoni pizza… Share this to save a life!!!”
No secret code
“Each time we see the social media meme about calling 911 and asking for a pizza, I worry,” said Andrea Tobin, communications shift supervisor at Willamette Valley Communications Center, which serves Polk County, and most of Marion and Lincoln counties.
“Each situation is handled differently for the safety of the caller and the responders,” Tobin said. “If we only know the caller ‘needs a pizza delivery’ — we don’t know if they are in a domestic violence situation, a burglar is in the house, or any number of other situations.”
Another problem is people calling 911 unnecessarily as a joke or to ask non-emergency questions.
“We may filter a pizza call as a prank if the caller is not clear that an emergency exists,” Tobin said. “I fear this idea provides the public with a false sense of security.”
There is another option to contact emergency services when you can’t speak freely: Send a text to 911.
Tobin said: “When we receive a text, the first question we ask is, ‘Are you able — and is it safe for you — to call 911?’ Texting takes longer to obtain information and send help.”
But, if texting is the only method of communication someone can use (for any reason), dispatchers have the capability to communicate over text, Tobin said.
Lastly, Tobin says you should never ask for pizza if you text 911. That will only make matters more confusing for the responder.