Structure Fire in Fort Ellis FSA

At approximately 7:50 am, Wednesday, January 16th, Fort Ellis Fire/Rescue was dispatched to a reported chimney fire on Blue Grouse Court.  On arrival crews found some smoke from around the chimney with reports that the home was filling with smoke.  All occupants were safely outside.  Crews made an interior attack and found fire in the wall behind the fireplace with flames extending into the attic space.  Crews from Amsterdam, Bozeman and Hyalite fire departments assisted Fort Ellis in extinguishing the stubborn blaze.  The residence had damage to the living room and attic.  The cause is undetermined at this time.

For more information, contact Asst. Chief Buck Taylor, 539-9358

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Structure Fire in Fort Ellis FSA

Sheriff Identifies Man Killed in Snowmobile Crash

(West Yellowstone, Mont.) The Office of the Sheriff/Coroner today identified the man killed Monday in a snowmobile crash in West Yellowstone.  60 year old Michael Najjar of Five Points Alabama was declared deceased at the scene.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Sheriff Identifies Man Killed in Snowmobile Crash

West Yellowstone Snowmobile Accident Fatality

PRESS RELEASE
January 14, 2019
10:00 PM

On Monday, January 14, 2019 at 3:27 PM a snowmobile with two riders was traveling southbound on Dunraven Street approaching the intersection with Gibbon Avenue in the Town of West Yellowstone. Gibbon Avenue is a through street and traffic on Dunraven Street is directed to stop by stop signs. The snowmobile failed to stop for the stop sign. At the time, an eastbound sport utility vehicle was approaching the intersection. The sport utility vehicle struck the snowmobile and the riders were knocked off the snowmobile. The impact deflected the snowmobile into a second vehicle that was stopped at the intersection.

One rider was transported by helicopter (Air Methods air medical transport) to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls and is in critical condition. The other rider was pronounced deceased at the scene. The riders were on vacation from out of state and were operating a snowmobile rented from a local business. The names are not being released pending notification of next of kin.

The occupants of the two vehicles were not injured.

Assisting agencies included the Hebgen Basin Rural Fire Department, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the National Forest Service (Gallatin), and the National Park Service
(Yellowstone).

The crash is still under investigation by the West Yellowstone Police Department.

Chief of Police Scott Newell

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on West Yellowstone Snowmobile Accident Fatality

Stranded Snowmobilers Rescued

(West Yellowstone, Mont.)

Monday at 5:15 p.m., West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch received a 911 call from two Minnesota snowmobilers who were stranded. Given the steep terrain and low snow levels the two men in their 20’s indicated that they were incapable of getting out by themselves. The coordinates retrieved from the call indicated they were in a steep canyon approximately 9 miles west of West Yellowstone in the Lionshead area.

Rescuers from the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone and U.S. Forest Service responded.

Rescuers located the men about 1 hour after the initial call but due to the steep technical terrain were forced to find a alternate way into them.  The men were in good health and assisted by SAR were able to extricate themselves and their snowmobiles and return to town

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind people that snowmobiling can be a challenging sport. It is important that snowmobilers know their limitations and pay attention to changing snow conditions. An area that is ridable one time of the year may be a trap at another. As always, snowmobilers are encouraged to have a reliable means of communications and pertinent survival gear when enjoying Montana’s backcountry.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Stranded Snowmobilers Rescued

Gallatin County 911 working through big changes

It has been a year of change at the Gallatin County 911 Dispatch Center, including brand new dispatching, paging and phone systems, among many other improvements.

Couple growing pains from adopting new systems with a shortage of dispatchers, however, and that has made for some struggles. But staff is optimistic, saying they are making big strides in improving service to the community as well as to the agencies the center works with.

“It’s been challenging, but we are moving in the right direction,” said Jim Anderson, interim 911 communications director. “Dispatchers have been fantastic and really working on all cylinders through all of the changes. They’re the backbone of this system and I cannot say enough about how proud I am of their dedication and professionalism.”

Some of the biggest upgrades and changes in the last year include:

  • Gallatin County 911 implemented a new Computer Aided Dispatching, or CAD, which is used to dispatch calls to law enforcement, fire and medical. The new program by Zuercher Technologies was part of a joint project with other agencies, including the Bozeman Police Department, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and area fire departments, which also included a new records management system for law enforcement.
  • A radio system upgrade as the first phase of a comprehensive radio communication improvement plan upgraded the City of Bozeman police and fire departments to an 800 MHz frequency system, the first 800 MHz trunked site in Montana. What that means for those first responders is better radio coverage in places where they couldn’t communicate prior to the upgrade. It also included other special features, like radio ID with the user’s car or badge number showing on portable radios to an emergency button that with one tap alerts dispatchers to a problem. The Montana State University Police Department also opted to join the 800 MHz system.
  • The paging system was also upgraded, converted to an IP system, that has improved reliability in paging, mainly to area fire departments
  • A new phone system was installed for dispatchers.
  • Gallatin County 911 received money from the Big Sky Resort Tax Board for a Big Sky public safety communications upgrade that will improve emergency communications in that area.

This year also saw a number of IT upgrades, like new computers for dispatchers, replacement of outdated servers and a storage cluster, and resolving phone issues.

At the center’s front desk is Lacy Moore, administrative assistant, has picked up new duties to include helping with the department’s budget and cross training to assist dispatchers when needed, among others.

Moore praised Anderson, saying when he came on board as Interim Director in August of 2017, he jumped into changing life in the department for employees for the better.

“He’s an amazing leader. He’s definitely changing the culture here,” she said.

Staff agree that the department is headed in a positive direction, by both implementing new systems to better communicate with emergency services and the public, as well as promoting a healthier and happier environment within the dispatch center.

But those changes don’t come without their issues, they emphasized. There are trainings to do, kinks to work out, and ongoing maintenance that take time.

The center is also dealing with short staffing. The department, which is authorized for 19 full-time dispatchers, is currently down to nine. However, five are currently in training and hiring efforts are continuing.

Michèle Blais, training manager, has been working to build a new training program that cuts down the training time from up to eight months, down to three or four months. Blais also said, while many of the skills dispatchers will need can be taught, they are putting a renewed focus on getting the right personalities for the dispatch center to help with overall culture and retention in the building.

The department is also in the process of hiring an assistant director, as well as a second radio technician. And later this spring, Gallatin County will be taking over dispatch for the MSU Police Department, which will move a number of new dispatchers into the center.

Due to the changes, as well as the short staff, Anderson said the department has struggled, but continues to push forward with what he says are positive steps.

County Administrator Jim Doar said he appreciates all the work and dedication the dispatchers are doing to meet the challenges. He added, “They care deeply about the community and their role in emergency services. They’ve persevered through some difficult transitions and we are asking them to dig even deeper; they’re rising to that challenge.”

Doar also noted that the progress made so far would not have been possible without Anderson’s leadership and is grateful that the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office was able to assign Anderson to 911 to help.

Echoing 911 staff, Doar also cautioned that the transition to new systems is always difficult and people need to be patient with the changes.

“911 is fundamentally changing the way they do business in order to better serve our fast growing county. Nothing will be perfect overnight,” he said.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin acknowledged frustrations with the changes and challenges 911 has been facing, but voiced optimism about the future of the center.

“We have to eat this elephant one bite at a time and focus on the big picture, otherwise we’ll be right back where we were, which no one wants,” Gootkin said. “We have incredible, dedicated people and that’s why I’m confident we will build a system that our first responders and citizens can count on for years to come.”

Gallatin County 911 Communications provides emergency dispatch services to the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman, Belgrade, Manhattan and Three Forks police and fire, rural fire districts and areas, Gallatin County Search and Rescue, ambulance services and other emergency response units.

Media contact:
Jim Anderson – interim 911 director
582-2092

Photo courtesy: Gallatin County 911

 

 

 

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Gallatin County 911 working through big changes

Back Country Rescue

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  On Thursday January 10, 2019 at 5:38 p.m., the West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch center received a 911 call reporting one lost and stuck snowmobiler. Three males were snowmobiling in an extreme backcountry area and became separated.  Two riders made it out to a safe location, and contacted 911 to report their friend missing and presumed stuck.  They were able to provide an approximate GPS location for the last known location of their friend.  They also reported that their friend had no overnight survival gear or any type of light source.

The lost snowmobiler, a 29 year-old male from Minnesota, was last reported in the Red Canyon area, 16 miles northwest of the Town of West Yellowstone. The GPS location showed the terrain to be very steep and heavily wooded.

Personnel from the Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone responded.  A group of eight rescue personnel responded on snowmobiles to the GPS location provided.

Rescuers made verbal contact with the man approximately four hours after the initial call.  Due to the hazardous terrain and deep snow conditions, the rescue teams needed another hour to reach him.  The male was uninjured and rescue personnel were able to load him on one of their snowmobiles and ride him back out to safety.  That ride back out took rescue personnel another two hours.  His snowmobile is still on the mountain.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to be careful when recreating off trail and to know your limitations.  A fun adventure into the amazing backcountry areas can quickly turn into an emergency situation.  Always remember to ride with a partner, stay with your partner, carry a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency, and be prepared to survive the night if needed.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Back Country Rescue

New York Woman injured in Snowmobile Crash

(West Yellowstone, Mont.) Tuesday at 10:02 a.m., Yellowstone National Park received a 911 call reporting a snowmobile crash in the Park near Riverside Drive about 6 miles East of West Yellowstone.  The crash caused both the snowmobile and rider to end up in the Madison River.  Yellowstone Rangers requested mutual aid from Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone.  Hebgen Basin Fire Department also responded to assist with the rescue.

When rescuers arrived on scene the injured snowmobiler, a 22-year-old female from Garrison New York, had been removed from the water however was extremely cold and suffering from an apparent broken femur. Rescuers immediately requested response from an Air Idaho Helicopter, which landed at the scene and ultimately transported the female to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind people that snowmobiling on the trail systems can be challenging. Changing trail conditions along with other traffic can create un-foreseen hazards. Inexperienced riders are advised to use extra caution to avoid a bad experience.  Photo Courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office and YNP

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on New York Woman injured in Snowmobile Crash

Sheriff Identifies Deceased Male

(Bozeman, Mont.)  Gallatin County Sheriff/Coroner Brian Gootkin identified the man who died this morning on Summer View Lane as 31 year old Eric David Sauerhagen.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Sheriff Identifies Deceased Male

Oregon Woman Injured in Snowmobile Crash near West Yellowstone

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  On Thursday January 3, 2019 at 11:04 am., the West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch Center received a 911 call reporting a snowmobile crash on the Horse Butte Trail 8 miles northwest of West Yellowstone. The injured party, a 46-year-old female from Oregon, had sustained a head injury when the snowmobile she was driving crashed into the back of the snowmobile in front of her.

Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, Forest Service Law Enforcement and Hebgen Basin Rural Fire District responded.

Rescuers met the injured party at the scene of the crash approximately 40 minutes after the initial call for help.  She was traveling on a groomed snowmobile trail when she crashed into the back of the snowmobile in front of her that was attempting to make a left turn.  After an initial assessment of her injuries, rescue personnel placed her inside a specialized rescue sled for transport to an awaiting ambulance.  The patient was transported to Big Sky Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to be careful when recreating in the backcountry, even when on a groomed trail.  Changing terrain and trail conditions along with unexpected actions of those you are riding with, can sometimes bring unexpected adventure to a fun day of snowmobiling.  Always remember to ride with a partner and carry a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency.

Photo courtesy of the Forest Service.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Oregon Woman Injured in Snowmobile Crash near West Yellowstone

Minnesota Man Injured in Snowmobile Crash

(West Yellowstone, Mont.)

Wednesday at 4:47 p.m., West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch received a 911 call reporting a snowmobiler with a dislocated hip sustained in a snowmobile crash. The 911 coordinates retrieved from the call indicated that the snowmobilers were located approximately 7 miles west of West Yellowstone.

Rescuers from the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, U.S. Forest Service and Hebgen Basin Fire Department responded.

A short while later Gallatin County Dispatch received a message from a SOS device monitoring agency reporting that the injured snowmobiler, a 20-year-old male from Minnesota, “wasn’t doing well.”

Rescuers located the injured snowmobiler, in a steep off-trail area, which was difficult to reach with the heavy rescue sled. Rescuers were able to package the patient onto a backboard, which they used to transport him by hand to the rescue sled. Rescuers then carefully transported the injured snowmobiler over the approximately four miles of extremely rough trail to the rendezvous point with a waiting Hebgen Basin Fire Department Ambulance.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind people snowmobiling the backcountry to be use caution in when riding off trail. The low snow amounts and lack of a hard base can make riding off trail treacherous.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Minnesota Man Injured in Snowmobile Crash