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iPhones Keep Dialing Emergency Services When Taken Skiing or Snowboarding

by Taylor Cunningham

Skiiers and Snowboarders are inadvertently triggering the iPhone’s new Crash Detection feature as they head down the slopes, and it’s causing headaches for emergency services. However, dispatchers are gladly dealing with the issue because they know the technology will save lives.

The iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, and the latest Apple Watch all include the feature to automatically call 9-1-1 if the users are in a “severe car crash” or take a dangerous fall. And Salt Lake City, Utah, authorities are saying that ski season has caused an “uptick in accidental emergency calls.”

The false triggers are happening when the snow sporters fall on the hills, hit their phones against the chair lifts, and more. To help quell false alarms, the phone sends users an alert that gives them 10 seconds to cancel a call. But skiers rarely see or hear that alerts through all of their winter gear.

Emergency Service Dispatchers are Asking iPhone Users to Keep the Crash Detection Feature Turned on

Dispatcher Susie Butterfield told KSL News that she fields around three to five accidental calls a day. Many times she can tell that the iPhone user is not in trouble because she can hear them swooshing down the slope. Other times, it takes more work to decide if someone actually needs help.

“We’ll try to call back that person to verify whether they’ve actually been injured or not,” she explained. “I can then call ski patrol, give them the GPS coordinates, and then they can respond immediately over there.”

So far, all the iPhone Crash Detection calls Butterfield has received have been false alarms. However, she doesn’t mind dealing with the new technology, nor does she care about the occasional pocket dial. Because she’d rather “avoid” the real emergencies that the iPhone will eventually detect than cut a slight nuisance out of her day.

“We do not want you to turn the feature off. We would rather have you be safe, and we don’t mind taking that call because if something did happen, we wouldn’t be able to get to you.”

While harmless wipeouts frequently happen to skiers, serious and life-threatening falls do happen. And if an iPhone user takes a hard crash, the instant call could obviously save their lives.

The call center told the outlet that because the technology is new, it expects to deal with the triggers for some time. And as the state gets deeper into ski and snowboarding season, officials acknowledge that more and more of these calls will come in.