Just to expand on this post about calling 911 and asking for a pizza to secretly ask for help:
The post is based on a Super Bowl commercial, which itself was based on a Reddit post that’s never been verified as true.
There is no actual pizza code with toppings and shit that dispatchers are trained in. If you come across someone who has heard of the commercial, they might understand. If you come across someone who’s never heard of it, they might think it’s a prank call and hang up on you.
A piece of actual advice to help you in this situation is to dial 911, then hang up without speaking, then turn the phone off. 911 will attempt to call you back, and when they’re unable to reach you, they’ll dispatch a unit to your location under the assumption that you need help and your call was interrupted. This will work 100% of the time, whereas the pizza trick will only work if the dispatcher has heard of the commercial/urban legend.
Also, the toppings thing was a complete and total fabrication and whoever wrote that should be ashamed of themselves, tbh.
It’s possible that the toppings thing was something that a clever dispatcher thought of on the spot, but it’s certainly not some standard code.
Write-up at Snopes.com. Status: Legend, not fact
@deathtodickens this is your professional field, correct?
Yes, I am a 911 dispatcher and this is not great advice at all. It will not work 100% of the time. It probably won’t even work 10% of the time.
(1) Every agency handles 911 hang up calls from cellular phones differently and because we receive thousands of them every month, we do not always respond to them. My agency, for instance, does not respond to 911 hang up calls from cellular phones with no disturbances heard. We call back twice and if there is no answer, we leave a message and we put in advised calls. WE DO NOT RESPOND. We are not a large agency and I can almost guarantee you that larger cities probably have a similar policy.
(2) Even if we hear a disturbance, there is no guarantee that we know where you are. Never believe that your GPS information is readily available to dispatchers - this isn’t CSI - it’s not that easy. Sometimes all we get is a very generic location (usually more than a 1000 meter radius of the cell phone tower your phone pinged off of). We can ping phones but that doesn’t always work ESPECIALLY IF YOUR PHONE IS TURNED OFF. Some cell phone companies do not provide historical location data. Many will not give us information if there is no obvious sign of an emergency. At most, they might have your subscriber information and hopefully you keeps yours up-to-date.
(3) If you’ve called 911 before or had police respond to your residence before, there’s a chance we can look in our own CAD systems and find your location based on prior calls. But, like I said, we won’t do that if there’s no obvious signs of an emergency. Also, A LOT of domestic violence victims have non-working phones with no actual cell service attached that still have the ability to dial 911. In those cases, we don’t get an actual phone number on our screens. We only receive a generic 911-area code that can’t be called back or traced and 80% of the time, they don’t have good location data.
(4) Any time you call 911 - START WITH YOUR LOCATION/ADDRESS and LISTEN to the dispatcher. If you want us to come to you and FIND you, we need to know where you are. Agencies are more likely to respond to you if you call 911 and say your address and hang up than if you say absolutely nothing at all, hang up, and turn off your phone. I cannot even stress to you how appalled I am at this advice.
PLEASE do not do that.
(5) We trust our guts more than we trust your voiceless 911 hang up call. We talk to domestic violence victims every day, some days every hour. We know when something is wrong. If someone calls in on 911 and starts insistently ordering a pizza (yes, it has happened), rambling on as if speaking to a friend, or barely talking at all, we’re not just going to hang up on you. We’re going to start asking yes or no questions because we answer thousands of 911 calls and we know when something sounds suspicious. We know when something sounds very wrong. We know when you’re in a tight spot and you can’t say more than what you’re giving us.
(6) I obviously cannot speak for every center and every dispatcher. There are bad batches everywhere. I know because I’m the one who has to write them up when they fail to do their jobs or see the urgency/importance of the jobs that they are doing. So will this always work? No. Nothing about calling 911 will always work. It will never be 100%. Law enforcement agencies are underfunded, our equipment/tech is miles below subpar to what you see on TV. Cellular phone companies don’t make it any easier for us and guess what - that little section of your phone bill that says “911 tax”? That money doesn’t come to us.
So no, it’s not always going to work but I can guarantee you that what I've written here will work better than calling 911, hanging up without saying anything, and turning off your phone.
There is no universal 911 policy.
Every agency is different.
For the love of God please do not tell victims of abuse to call in voiceless 911 hang ups. If you can stay on the phone, stay on the phone. If you can leave an open line, leave the phone on and put it somewhere close. If you have a home VOIP phone, keep your address updated if you move. If you have a cell phone, keep your subscriber information current.
And the absolute safest way to call 911 and pretty much guarantee that we’ll know where you are and respond, is by calling from an old-fashioned landline or payphone.