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Deschutes County 911 dispatchers getting false emergency calls due to new Apple iPhone feature

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A new crash detection feature on certain Apple products we're rolled out to iOS users in November. The feature is doing what it's designed to do in some cases, but it's also created a new issue the Deschutes County 911 Dispatch Center and for skiers and snowboarders: false 911 calls.

The new emergency call feature is intended to help first responders locate someone if they get into a car wreck, or other accident, because it detects impact and change of speed.

Since Dec. 1, the Deschutes County 911 Dispatch Center has received 30 automatic emergency calls from skiers and snowboarders at Mt. Bachelor.

Deschutes County 911 Service District Director Sara Crosswhite said Friday the county saw its first case of a false 911 call in late November or early December.

On Mt. Bachelor, other than two cases in which people needed help because they were injured, the feature is making false calls to the 911 dispatch center when people wipe out or crash on their skis and snowboards.

Crosswhite says the dispatch center calls people back, in case it's a real emergency "So we started seeing this right when the mountain opened, people would call or have the accidental dials so we'd have to call them back. Other 911 centers reported they've been having the same experience, where they we're getting these calls."

The crash detection feature can be disabled in the settings. If the feature isn't disabled, after 10 seconds it'll start "whooping" at you, and you can disable it manually. After 20 seconds, an alert is sent to a dispatch center.

Situations like the one in Deschutes County aren't new. At least five counties in Colorado have been getting a record number of automated calls from skiers' iPhone's and Apple watches, including one county that took 71 calls in a single weekend. None of them involved an emergency.

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County
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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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