OHIO (CNN) – A wrong call at first glance quickly turned out to be a call for help.
Luckily for an Ohio woman, her 911 dispatcher was listening very carefully.
“I would like to order a pizza at…”
“You called 911 to order a pizza?”
“Uh, Yeah, apartment…”
“This is the wrong number to call for a pizza.”
“No no no… you’re not understanding me.”
“I’m getting you now.”
In his 14 years of service, this is a call Oregon dispatcher Tim Teneyck has never gotten before.
“You see it on Facebook but it’s not something that anybody has ever been trained for. We’re just trained to listen.”
He says domestic violence calls are common, but not like this.
“Is the other guy still there?”
“Yep. I need a large pizza.”
“All right. How about medical. You need medical?”
“No. With pepperoni.”
After the exchange, Teneyck alerted officers to hurry.
“Turn your sirens off before you get there. Caller ordered a pizza. And agreed with everything I said that there’s domestic violence going on.”
Teneyck says his intuition that something wasn’t right kicked in, which to him, reaffirms how important listening is in his line of work.
“Thank you how can I help you?”
“Other dispatchers that I’ve talked to would not have picked up on this. They’ve told me they wouldn’t have picked up on this.”
“Excellent dispatch work on the part of our dispatcher. Some dispatchers may have hung up.”
Oregon police chief Michael Navarre told me that ordering a pizza to indicate domestic violence is something he’s never heard of.
“Not in all my years, not in my 42 years of law enforcement.”
But coming up with some kind of code to alert 911 that you’re in trouble is the right thing to do.
The chief says if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you should do:
“Somehow or another convey to that police dispatcher that you are in trouble. And this woman did that. She did that not with her words, but with the tone of her voice.”
Thanks to the quick thinking of both the caller and the dispatcher – the alleged abuser, Simon Lopez, was arrested and locked up.
“He handled the call beautifully and it had a happy ending.”
The victim’s daughter says when she made the call, he was hoping to keep the person hitting her mom from running away before police got there.
The strategy worked.
(This story was originally published on November 22, 2019)