Apple watches and iPhones sending emergency alerts from skiers

Apple watches and iPhones are sending false alarms saying owners have taken hard crashes or falls when skiing. Local dispatchers received over 500 false alarms
Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 3:26 PM MST
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SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) - An iPhone and watch feature that is supposed to help in an emergency is doing the opposite in Summit County.

Dispatchers are spending valuable time and resources looking into false alarms. In many cases, it’s skiers just enjoying their day.

Reporter Katie Eastman explains that good intentions sometimes have bad outcomes. The apple automatic crash notification on the new watches and phones is supposed to call 911 when the owner of the device gets injured and cannot make emergency calls themselves.

“So we receive them in all different languages and its an automated voice that says the owner of this device has taken a hard fall or taken a hard crash,” said Eastman.

The issue, however, is that many people enjoying the outdoors aren’t even aware that their phones are making emergency calls.

Skiers and snowboarders often feel awful, but it leaves dispatchers frustrated when they could be taking real emergency calls.

“They’re like, ‘I’m skiing, I’m so sorry,’ and they’re living their best life and I’m happy for them – but I don’t think people quite understand how frustrating it can be for their local dispatcher,”

But that’s only the response when people answer. More often, however, the dispatch call is ignored.

In November, Summit County got 111 automatic crash detection notifications. In December, 388; in January, 524.