Emergency Services in Durango, Colorado


Underpinning the appeal of this mountain community is a network of critical emergency services working around the clock to protect and care for residents and guests.


  • Durango emergency services include police, firefighters, EMS, search and rescue teams, and a robust emergency preparedness infrastructure.
  • Cutting-edge training, community engagement initiatives, and a coordinated emergency response bolster public safety in this Southwest Colorado city.
  • Essential equipment, dedicated personnel, and planning allow Durango to effectively handle disasters and provide emergency care.

Overview of Durango Emergency Services

As a tight-knit community facing hazards ranging from wildfires to severe winter storms, Durango has developed a multifaceted emergency management framework. This includes over a dozen agencies and hundreds of highly trained personnel equipped to handle law enforcement, medical emergencies, fire response, technical rescue, hazardous materials, disasters, and more.

Interagency collaboration and unified command structures allow these entities to offer an efficient, all-hazards response. Durango also takes a proactive stance on emergency preparedness through public outreach initiatives and disaster drills. The city uses the latest technology to issue alerts.

Ensuring Public Safety Through the Durango Police Department

The Durango Police Department (DPD) is the primary law enforcement agency safeguarding the city. With over 50 sworn officers, the DPD issues timely emergency alerts, conducts safety programming, promotes environmental stewardship, and builds community trust through progressive policing programs.

The department has earned international accreditation for its high standards, including advanced officer training, ethical oversight, and community-centric policies. Some of the DPD’s key community initiatives include Neighborhood Watch, victim advocacy, and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E).

Saving Lives With Durango Fire and Emergency Medical Services

The Durango Fire Protection District provides essential firefighting and emergency medical services (EMS) to over 30,000 residents and 3 million annual visitors. Its ISO Class 2 rating signifies top-tier fire protection capabilities, including specialty teams for technical rescue, hazardous materials response, and backcountry search and rescue.

With six strategically located fire stations, and aided by advanced data analytics to optimize coverage, Durango Fire can dispatch units to arrive on-scene within five minutes. All firefighters are cross-trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics, allowing rapid intervention during medical crises.

Cutting-edge equipment like cardiac monitors, specialized stretchers, and trauma bags equip crews to provide advanced life support. In 2021, Durango EMS responded to over 5,000 calls, underscoring the importance of emergency medical preparedness to community health.

Durango Search and Rescue: Finding the Lost

Injured hikers and lost backpackers in Durango sometimes require search and rescue services. Durango Mountain Rescue trains extensively in technical rescue disciplines to locate and retrieve missing persons.

Comprised of volunteer rescue leaders, the team conducts high-angle rope rescue, wilderness first aid, avalanche response, and search management. Durango Mountain Rescue works closely with other agencies, including La Plata County Search and Rescue and the Colorado National Guard, to deploy helicopter and drone assets when needed.

Emergency Planning and Preparedness

While emergency responders provide crucial frontline defense, community-level planning is equally vital. Durango maintains a Hazard Mitigation Plan outlining potential risks from disasters like flooding, winter storms, and wildfires. It also has a Continuity of Operations Plan guaranteeing that essential services function during crises.

The city issues emergency notifications through multiple channels, including text and email alerts, social media, sirens, and even emergency vehicle PA systems. These provide life-safety warnings for situations like dangerous fugitives, missing persons, severe weather, environmental hazards, and public health emergencies.

Residents must also take responsibility by creating family emergency plans, maintaining disaster supply kits, and monitoring alerts. Visitors should check conditions before traveling, understand basic safety precautions, and avoid overextending their outdoor capabilities.

Ongoing Training Essential for Emergency Personnel

Maintaining an expert emergency workforce requires substantial training in hazardous materials response, emergency vehicle operations, crisis negotiation, incident management, and more.

Personnel from across Durango’s EMS agencies participate in joint training through the Regional Training Center. This interagency teamwork translates to coordinated field response. The center offers various courses, including EMT and paramedic certification. Online FEMA classes allow broader access to disaster preparedness education.

Volunteer Opportunities in Durango Emergency Services

Durango emergency agencies rely extensively on volunteer participation. Volunteer firefighters undergo training in critical capabilities like wildland and structural firefighting. Search and rescue teams also benefit from volunteer recruitment.

Volunteers operate the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), teaching disaster readiness while registering to assist professional responders during crises. Volunteers also serve as weather spotters, amateur radio operators, and disaster workers. Volunteering builds community resilience through education and surge capacity.

Communications and Alerts: Staying Informed

Communicating life-safety threats quickly and accurately is critical during emergencies. Durango uses the CodeRED emergency notification system to instantly contact affected citizens through location-based targeting.

The city also issues wireless emergency alerts, sending notifications to mobile devices without requiring app registration. Durango maintains extensive two-way radio interoperability, allowing seamless communication between agencies. It also utilizes amateur HAM radio operators to bolster channels.

Agencies and the public share the responsibility of staying updated on possible emergencies and responding appropriately when alerts are issued.

Essential Equipment Sustaining Emergency Operations

State-of-the-art equipment and dedicated operations facilities help enable Durango’s emergency services to function. Frontline resources include cardiac monitors, Jaws of Life extraction tools, thermal imaging cameras, hazardous materials detection and mitigation gear, mobile command centers, and more.

Behind the scenes, Durango Public Safety Radio Network provides resilient mission-critical communications. The state-of-the-art network has sufficient capacity for major events and for preventing system failures. The Emergency Operations Center also serves as a centralized hub for multi-agency coordination during disasters.

While much happens unseen, Durango’s emergency personnel, infrastructure, and equipment provide the critical backbone keeping residents and visitors safe as they enjoy everything this exceptional mountain community offers.


How do I sign up for emergency alerts in Durango?

Visit the La Plata County Office of Emergency Management website to register mobile numbers and email addresses in the CodeRED system that’s used to rapidly disseminate emergency notifications.

What emergency preparedness steps should I take before visiting Durango?

Check the weather forecast and understand typical seasonal conditions. Share your travel plans and itinerary with others. Ensure your vehicle has supplies like food, water, warm clothing, and emergency kits. Know your physical capabilities if engaging in outdoor recreation. Purchase travel insurance with emergency medical and evacuation coverage.

What volunteer opportunities exist within Durango emergency services?

Durango has extensive volunteer needs across emergency service agencies. Examples include volunteer firefighters, search and rescue team members, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program participants, weather spotters, amateur radio operators, and disaster relief workers.

What types of hazards is Durango prone to?

Given its mountain locale and seasonal extremes, Durango faces various environment-driven hazards. These include winter storms, flooding, wildfires, thunderstorms, hazardous material spills, avalanches, rock/mudslides, tornadoes, and public health emergencies.

How can I support Durango first responders?

First responders appreciate community support through volunteering, charitable donations to equipment funds, participation in citizen academies and ride-alongs, cooperation during incidents, and overall positive engagement. Avoid risky actions requiring avoidable rescues, and be sure to move over and slow down for stopped emergency vehicles.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at ReadyColorado.com. My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.