Pitkin County 911 Emergency Dispatchers are being credited with some behind-the-scenes heroics in the response to the Lake Christine fire that erupted July 3rd.
When the first 911 call about the fire was received shortly before 6 pm, there were only two dispatchers on duty. Call volume quickly soared to 87 emergency calls and 25 non-emergency calls in the first 30 minutes. The lone dispatchers answered every call, and in between, got fire trucks rolling and police responding immediately.
For perspective, during the entire month of June, there were an average of 38 emergency calls in an entire day and another 185 calls per day that were not true emergencies.
“This is the scenario we’ve been dreading,” said Emergency Dispatch Director, Brett Loeb. “We’ve been understaffed for some time, due to the complexity and the stress of this career. Also, the normalcy and relative peacefulness of our valley doesn’t allow for much experience with such high volume situations, so it’s hard to predict how we would perform,” said Loeb.
From midnight-to-midnight on the 4th of July, there were 129 emergency calls received and 693 non-emergency calls managed.
“I can tell you now, these guys aced it all week by working extra hours and performing high-quality work just like they do every day, only at a slightly higher intensity level. We didn’t miss a beat,” Loeb said.
Emergency Dispatch Director, Brett Loeb confers with his staff
during a calmer moment in the Dispatch Center.
Emergency Dispatchers also were busy sending out alerts to the community via Pitkin Alert and the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). Over the past week, dispatchers sent over 30 Pitkin Alert notifications and one IPAWS alert. Most were in coordination with Eagle County Alert to provide consistent messaging.
“The good news is that since the fire started we’ve had 2,213 new Pitkin Alert registrations bringing the total to just over 9,000. This still represents less than half of the notification area, which includes our side of Eagle and Garfield Counties.
“We’d like to be able to reach more citizens in these situations so please sign up at pitkinalert.org if you haven't already. Subscribing to Pitkin Alert gives the public access to a wide range of emergency alert information,” Loeb said.
Media Contact: Brett Loeb, Emergency Dispatch Director - 970-315-2184