Apple watches spur ‘dramatic’ increase in 911 calls at Schweitzer Mountain, according to sheriff’s office

According to the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, skiers and snowboarders wearing Apple smart watches are causing a “dramatic increase in unintended 911 calls.”

“Last Saturday, nearly 30% of our 911 calls were unintentional 911 calls from people enjoying activities on Schweitzer Mountain,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post Thursday. .

Schweitzer Mountain was unaware of the increase.

“That’s interesting. It’s the first time I’ve heard of it,” Schweitzer marketing director Shawn Mills said in an email. “It wasn’t an unusually active day in the mountains.”

The Apple Watch and iPhone 14 and 14 Pro have fall detection technology. According to Apple, when the watch senses you are moving, it asks you to respond, and if you don’t respond, it will send you an alarm message and automatically call 911 within 20 seconds. Fall detection is automatically turned on if the user is over 55. For users under the age of 18, fall detection can be turned on manually.

At Lookout Ski Resort on the Idaho-Montana border, there was only one unintentional 911 call from an Apple Watch, said Matt Sawyer, director of marketing at the resort.

News reports are reporting similar increases in calls at sheriff’s offices near ski fields across the country. However, the problem does not appear to be widespread in the Spokane area.

“I think we’ve seen some in general, but not as much as we’d be concerned,” said Rick Anderson, the 911 coordinator for Stevens County. “We have nothing to worry about.”

He estimates that the fulfillment center receives a few unintended phone calls to Apple Watches each month from people enjoying their time at 49 degrees north latitude. If an incomplete call comes in, the coordinator will call the number back, Anderson said. If we are unable to contact you, we will alert Ski Patrol. Rick Brown, director of services for skiers and riders at 49 Degrees His North, said the calls have not created a “notable trend.”

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, which did not return calls by press time, said in a Facebook statement: These unintentional 911 calls can divert emergency resources from true emergencies elsewhere in the county. “

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