BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – There’s a growing problem for rescuers in Colorado’s high country of people in need of help calling 911 and having no idea where they are.

On busy holiday weekends dispatchers say the problem only gets worse.

“People still think that when you call 911 on a cellphone that we’re going to know exactly where you are, and it’s just not that accurate,” said Dr. Bill Pessemier, Summit County Communications Center Director.

It’s a significant problem that can cost lifesaving minutes. The Summit County Communications Center provided CBS4 with many examples of people calling 911 and saying they don’t know the address of where they are.

“The dispatchers are really good about basically using a process of elimination to narrow down where the callers are located,” Pessemier said. “So they’ll finally get an address or some kind of a location from them, and they’ll do that as quickly as they can.”

About 25 percent of calls coming in don’t know where they are. Four out of every five calls come from a cellphone, but GPS coordinates that come in to the dispatch center aren’t always accurate. Pessemier says he’s trying to work on a solution, keying on places tourists go.

A 911 dispatcher at the Summit County Communications Center (credit: CBS)

A 911 dispatcher at the Summit County Communications Center (credit: CBS)

“Which is to bring people in the community together, kind of the stakeholders, which is the county, the towns and the resorts, to develop a plan to help people understand where they are,” he said.

It’s not just a problem in the tourist communities, it’s a problem everywhere. Those who are heading out on vacation should try and know where they are.


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