FRISCO, Colorado — On a recent Sunday morning, tens of thousands of skiers flocked to Summit County. Just minutes after the lift lines opened, sirens began wailing at the emergency services center.
Each alert was an incoming call, a potentially life-threatening situation. Often, telephone operators would hear an eerie sound on the line: silence.
At 9:07 a.m., a dispatcher, Eric Betts, responded to such a call. From a monitor, he could see that the call originated from a slope in the Arapahoe Basin ski area. Betts returned the call.
“Do you have an emergency?” Betts asked. No, said a man, he was skiing—safe, happy, unharmed. “My watch has been showing 911 for three days.”
Winter has brought a flood of bogus emergency calls to the region. Virtually all of them have been made by Apple Watches or iPhones 14 under the mistaken impression that their owners are in trouble. Starting in September, these devices come with technology meant to detect car crashes and alert emergency personnel, but it continues to mistake skiers for crash victims.
Operators often need to put real emergencies on hold to clarify whether a siren has been activated by a human at risk or an overzealous device.
Trina Dummer, with Summit County Emergency Services, received 185 such calls between January 13 and 22. She said the barrage threatened to desensitize dispatchers and divert limited resources from genuine emergencies.
In a written statement, Alex Kirschner, an Apple spokesperson, noted that when a shock is detected, the watch sends a loud warning alerting the user that an emergency call is in progress and provides 10 seconds to cancel the call. He said the accident detection function “has already contributed to saving several lives.”
The problem extends beyond skiers. “My watch often thinks I’ve had an accident,” said Stacey Torman, who teaches spinning classes in London.
But something about the way skiers speed up and stop seems to put technology on particularly high alert. In Grand County, home to a busy mountain called Winter Park, Sheriff Brett Schroetlin has decided to pay less attention to crash detection calls. Now, if an operator receives one of the hints and there is no one on the line, the call is ignored. Schroetlin reasoned that there was a better technology for real emergencies: human beings.
“It’s rare that someone falls off the mountain and there’s no one around,” he said.
By: Matt Richtel
BBC-NEWS-SRC: http://www.nytsyn.com/subscribed/stories/6569552, IMPORTING DATE: 2023-02-13 23:50:07
#Apple #Watches #fail #Skiers #mistaken #crash #victims
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