911 Dispatch Center

The Ravalli County 911 Center is staffed by 13 Communication Specialists, also known as dispatchers. The 911 Center is staffed 24 hours a day with at least two dispatchers and up to four dispatchers. Our 911 Center is a part of the Ravalli County Sheriffs Office and is led by a sworn Sheriffs Office Lieutenant. Our 911 Administrative Assistant oversees warrant service / entry, 911 audio requests and 911 training.

Dispatching Services
Our center receives phone calls for, and dispatches to, 12 fire districts, five local law enforcement agencies, five ambulances, and numerous state and federal agencies such as:
  • Fish and Game
  • Montana Probation and Parole
  • Juvenile Probation
  • Forest Service Law Enforcement
  • DES
  • Search and Rescue
  • Department
  • Montana Highway Patrol
  • US Marshals 
  • NIH Police
Communications Processes
All emergency and non-emergency communications with our local fire, EMS and law enforcement starts with a call into our 911 Center. Our trained staff evaluates the incident and determines which emergency services to notify and what nature of response is needed. Our staff notifies fire and EMS personnel by pager and then communicates by radio to the first responders.

Our Dispatchers are trained in Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) protocols, which expedite and specify the questions we ask to anyone that calls to report a medical emergency. In addition, EMD provides consistent life saving directions that our Dispatchers can relay over the telephone to aid in all medical emergencies until our first responders can arrive.

Communication Channels
Our 911 Center has six emergency (911) phone lines and four non-emergency (363-3033) phones lines coming into the Center. Only dial 911 if your call is of an immediate emergency nature, and dial the non emergency number for all other questions or reports into the Center. If you call the 911 number
for a non-emergency incident, we risk tying the lines up for someone who has an emergency and needs help immediately.

When you call our 911 Center, the dispatchers will ask you a series of specific questions. Keep in mind that as the dispatchers ask you these questions, emergency services are activated as soon as you call in your emergency. The questions must be answered in order for the staff to proceed through our
computer programs, EMD protocols, and to update the services that are in route to the incident. Please remain calm and patient while relaying information to our staff.
  • Be prepared to provide your name, telephone number, address location, and a detailed description of the incident being reported.
  • Listen carefully and let the dispatcher ask questions and guide the conversation.
  • Answer questions clearly and calmly, and follow all directions provided by the dispatcher.
  • Be prepared to provide a physical description if an emergency involves a criminal suspect.
  • Wireless telephones may not tell the dispatcher where you are. Use a landline to report emergencies when possible.
  • Remember- 911 is only for life-threatening emergencies.
  • Please make sure that your home/business address is posted where it can be seen clearly from the roadway and make sure your address is correct.
Our Equipment
Each dispatch position is called a console. Each console is equipped with three computers; one for radio traffic, one for telephone traffic, and one to operate our computer aided dispatch (CAD). Each console has four monitors that the dispatchers interact with to change radio channels, change phone lines, and check vehicles or individuals.

This requires the dispatchers to multi-task with all of the equipment, programs, phone calls and multiple incidents that can occur at the same time. When you call our 911 Center, you may be placed on hold while our dispatchers relay information to our first responders, answer radio traffic, or answer other phone lines. Please be patient while our dispatchers prioritize the large volume of phone calls, radio traffic, and multi tasking to quickly get assistance to everyone that calls into our 911 Center.

Handling Calls
Only dial 911 for life threatening emergencies. Dial 363-3033 for ALL non emergency calls. If you dial 911 by mistake, please stay on the line and speak with our dispatchers.

In 2013, the Ravalli County 911 Center handled the following volume of calls in and out of our Center.
  • Calls for service into the center: 31,437
  • 911 calls into the center: 12,023
  • Calls to notify that you are burning: 14,732
  • Emergency medical service calls: 3,396
  • Fire calls: 2,431
  • Traffic stops called into the center by le: 7,695
  • All phone calls in and out of the center: 142,023