Use 911 For Emergencies

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During the fire Monday afternoon, 911 operators were overwhelmed with phone calls. In fact, there were so many that it overloaded the system with people calling who didn't have emergencies. That’s because people were using 911 as an information source. "People called who were not able to go home because their streets blocked off," Elizabeth Brown with the county dispatch center said.

At times, 911 was so busy that some people with non emergencies had to wait on hold because 10 dispatchers were answering the 20 phone lines. "It can overload the system, which creates a burden for people working here, who are trying to handle true emergencies that are occurring," Brown said.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said it was difficult to get information out because the situation was changing every second. "All the resources were trying to get the fire out, but they couldn't get with me to say this what was going on," Lt. Clif Northam with the sheriff’s office said.

In the future, the dispatch center said it will be easier to keep residents notified of what's going on. Reverse 911 should be up and running in the next few months.