When to Call 9-1-1

In the event of an emergency, 9-1-1 is your best access line for assistance from emergency services. 

The following details are from the Missoula Department of Emergency Services and the Federal 911 Agency.


When to dial 9-1-1:

Dialing 9-1-1 should be used in any situation where you feel immediate response of a fire truck, police patrol, and/or ambulance service is required. This may include:
  • When you see smoke or flames. 
  • When you need an ambulance for an injury, illness, or medical condition.
  • When you or someone with you is in danger. 
  • When you observe suspicious activity that poses a threat to you or someone near you. 
When NOT to dial 9-1-1:
9-1-1 calls are always answered by an emergency dispatch personnel and they are not an unlimited resource. Please help us keep only emergencies on their lines by not using 9-1-1 for the following reasons:


  • Looking for Missoula area weather (Instead, contact your local weather service
  • When reporting utility outages or issues regarding lack of service (Instead, please contact the service company directly)
  • To ask for directions, locations, or street/road names (instead, access an on-line GPS service)
  • To request records of incidents that have happened in the past or gather general information from reports (instead, contact the responding agency directly)
  • To report locked keys in a vehicle unless there is a person trapped inside (instead call a locksmith)
  • To request an ambulance or transport vehicle in a non-emergency situation 
  • For information on city events, street closures, etc. 
  • When you observe someone sleeping in a non-traditional location (contact the HOT line 406-493-7955)
Learn more about how to dial 9-1-1 appropriately from the federal 9-1-1 agency and follow their link to additional tips for when to call 9-1-1. 

Visit the Department of Emergency Service's web page about calling 911 to learn more details about Missoula's dispatch agency and tips and suggestions for reporting emergencies to their service. 

Don't forget to share this information with your children. Did you know that children as young as 3 have helped save their parents lives! 9-1-1 is an important service, but one that needs to be used correctly! Learn more about how to talk to your child about 9-1-1 and how to use it responsibly. 

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