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Gallatin Valley population growth is driving increase in calls to 911

Dispatch 2.jpg
Dispatch 1.jpg
Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 05, 2022

BOZEMAN - More calls are being made to 911 and Gallatin County Dispatch has been answering those calls. An influx of new population and more tourism has meant more calls are coming in, sometimes on purpose or even on accident.

“We wanted the community to see what we are doing and what accomplishments we had and how we are being good stewards of the tax dollars,” says Tim Martindale, director of Gallatin County 911.

Gallatin County dispatch released its 2021 annual report. The report shows a steady increase in calls to 911.

“Looking back seeing the big jump came between 2018 and 2021,” says Martindale.

In these 4 years, calls have gone up about 20 percent, and non-emergency calls make up the bulk of calls made to dispatch.

In 2018 the number of 911 calls made was just over 108,000, the number jumped to over 121,000 in 2019. Non-emergency calls have hovered around 124,000 in 2020 and 2021.

“We saw a little over 4,000 calls in growth,” says Martindale.

Emergency calls have closely followed the same trend. In 2018 just about 24,000 came into dispatch. In 2019 emergency calls jumped to around 31,000; it remained around the same during 2020. Jumping again to around 35,000 in 2021

Martindale says the increase has been driven mostly by population growth with tourism playing a small factor.

“We are seeing a lot of calls coming from visitors,” says Martindale.

He says those calls we see in the winter months are coming from those playing winter sports.

“We're seeing more snowmobile accidents, more ski accidents, those sort of outdoor things,” says Martindale.

Martindale says most people mean to call dispatch, but he says smartwatches or even pocket calls have also been a regular occurrence.

As the population grows, the need for dispatchers has also grown. Andrew Greer has been with Gallatin Dispatch for just under a year.

“It kind of gives you a sense of the world,” says Greer.

He describes his experience as he helps people when they call.

“You kind of get to see if you would have made those choices, oh I would have been dealing with this,” says Greer.

As they look ahead to another busy year.

“It has been a great relaxation on the quality of staff we have here,” says Martindale.