What is 9-1-1?

9-1-1 is the nationwide police, fire, and ambulance emergency number.  9-1-1 should be used to report fires, medical problems, and crimes in progress. The dispatchers who answer at the Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center are trained to provide medical and life safety instruction.

Some Dos & Dont's when calling 9-1-1


Please Do


  • Remain calm. This is very important. If you are calm you will be able to help more efficiently.
  • Let the call taker ask you questions. Very specific information is needed in very specific order. Do your best to answer the questions precisely that are posed to you.
  • Be prepared to give full location information including:  street address, city, state, apartment number, room location, which floor, etc.  In this age of cellular proliferation your call may be routed many miles from where you are, and dispatchers need to determine exactly which agency can best help you if you are not currently within Pitkin County's jurisdiction. Also, if you cannot give an address, be aware of your surroundings, noticing mile markers, mountains, landmarks, direction of travel, GPS position, and any other factors that can assist with determining where to send help.
  • Be patient. It may seem like nothing is being done to help, but in reality many things are happening. We work as a team to send people to help you.  We assess our resources and may ask you more questions to help identify the best way to proceed. We will do our best to combine safety, speed and accuracy to get the right resources to the right location as quickly as possible.
  • Please follow our directions. We may be giving you very specific instruction about minimizing the danger to yourself or helping those in need.
  • Also, stay on the line until told to do otherwise, as more vital information may be needed.

Please Do Not


  • Never call 9-1-1 for a non-emergency. Doing so occupies an emergency line and emergency personnel that are needed to assist actual emergencies. The general phone number for Police Departments on their websites and on our Phone Numbers page (to the left).
  • Never call 9-1-1 for information. If you have a power outage, you see the Police or fire and ambulance drive by, or you are stuck in traffic tune into a local radio station or call the appropriate phone number. We are not an information service and will not provide information on an emergency line.
  • If you mistakenly dial 9-1-1, do not hang up. Stay on the line and explain what happened to the call taker. If you hang up before we confirm there is not an emergency, we will call you back. If we can't reach you when we call back, we will send an officer to investigate. This is done not as a punishment, but to make sure everyone there is safe.
  • Don't assume we know your name, address, and phone number. We have a 9-1-1 system that usually gives us that information if you are calling from home or work, but it does not always do so. Even if your information is displayed for us, we must confirm the information.
  • Don't assume we know what is happening. When you call us you are our eyes and ears.  We will use the information you have to help you but we must know what is happening in order to do so.
  • Please don't hang up until told to do so.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about 9-1-1. We are here to help you in an emergency situation and look forward to seeking a positive resolution should you ever need to call.