911 Didn’t Answer Because They Were Ordering Pizza

She even took time to discuss the pronunciation of pasta fagioli with the pizza restaurant.

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Jan 15 2016, 9:00pm

Foto von instantvantage via Flickr

Pizza may not be the best thing for our health, but we generally don't think that a simple pizza order could kill us. But when it came to one particular pizza order in Sunrise, Florida, it very well could have.

Here's what happened: Back in September, a young man was visiting his optometrist's office when he suddenly passed out. Alarmed, the office workers called 911. The phone rang. And rang. And rang. In short, no one at the 911 dispatch center, run by the Broward Sheriff's Office, ever picked up. Nor did anyone from the office call back, despite several phone calls from at least two different phones.

Alarmed? Don't be. There's a good reason for the emergency workers' failure to respond. 911 was ordering pizza.

So, no: Pizza didn't kill the poor fellow at the optometrist's office. He regained consciousness and is fine. But it could have killed him. Right?

READ MORE: This Pizzeria Will Give You Free Pizza for a Year If You Catch Their Burglar

Turns out that the only call-taker available at the Florida 911 call center in question was one Frances Francois. Instead of answering 911 emergency calls, as her job required, she was on the phone with Poppy's Pizza for a full eight minutes.

A total of 13 call takers were supposed to be available that day at the Broward County call center. According to an investigation by Broward County, eight workers were doing their jobs: dealing with emergency calls. Four others who were supposed to be on duty that morning weren't, with no explanation offered. And Frances Francois was ordering pizza.

The pizza order was, of course, recorded—this is 911, after all. According to the Sun-Sentinel, as call tones and visual alerts went off, Francois called in an extensive order of six pizza slices, a calzone, pasta fagioli, two tuna subs, and a chicken philly sandwich. Sounds as if she was ordering for the whole office. She even took time to discuss the pronunciation of "pasta fagioli" with the pizza restaurant.

Disgusted? Don't worry: Francois was given a written reprimand in December, according to sheriff's office records. Yes, Francois appears to still be employed as a 911 call operator. Maybe that's because the entire office was complicit in this imbroglio.

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Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bruce Roberts said the Broward County 911 system is broken, so much so that the city of Fort Lauderdale is considering spending $8 million a year to run its own 911 dispatch center. "It's not getting better,'' Roberts, the city's former police chief, told the Sun-Sentinel.

The troubling incidents have been mounting for this system, which serves a large county in Southern Florida, home to many elderly people. There was a case in early January in which a response to a cardiac emergency at Fort Lauderdale Hospital was delayed for 45 minutes. In a recent restaurant fire, trucks were sent to South Federal Highway instead of North Federal Highway.

In the meantime, Francois has learned her lesson, it seems. She told investigators, "I won't place food orders no more, especially if it's going to jam me up like this. I'm not going to do it no more, for anybody.''

Feel better? No, we don't either.