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TheQuarantinian t1_j743bf7 wrote

From a story on DNYUZ:

> FRISCO, Colo. — On a recent sunny Sunday morning, following a night of fluffy snowfall, tens of thousands of skiers flocked to the resorts of Summit County. Just minutes after the lift lines opened, sirens began blaring in the 911 emergency service center, where four staff members were taking calls and dispatching help.

> Each jarring alert was a new incoming call, heralding a possible car crash, heart attack or other life-threatening situation. Often, the phone operators heard a chilling sound at the far end of the line: silence, perhaps from a caller too incapacitated to respond.

> At 9:07 a.m., one dispatcher, Eric Betts, responded to such a call. From the map on one of the seven monitors on his desk, he could see that the distress call originated from a slope at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Mr. Betts tried calling back. A man picked up.

> “Do you have an emergency?” Mr. Betts asked. No, the man said, he was skiing — safely, happily, unharmed. Slightly annoyed, he added, “For the last three days, my watch has been dialing 911.”

> Winter has brought a decent amount of snowfall to the region’s ski resorts, and with it an avalanche of false emergency calls. Virtually all of them have been placed by Apple Watches or iPhone 14s under the mistaken impression that their owners have been debilitated in collisions.

> “My whole day is managing crash notifications,” said Trina Dummer, interim director of Summit County’s emergency services, which received 185 such calls in the week from Jan. 13 to Jan. 22. (In winters past, the typical call volume on a busy day was roughly half that.) Ms. Dummer said that the onslaught was threatening to desensitize dispatchers and divert limited resources from true emergencies.

> Just before noon, Mark Watson, a sergeant with the sheriff’s office, walked into the dispatch room looking glum. “This is not a good day,” he said.

> Ordinarily, he had other duties, including patrolling the backcountry on snowmobile, but the ghost calls had kept him at his desk. Whenever the 911 operators were unable to reach the owner of the watch or phone, the case was referred to Sergeant Watson, who would try calling and sending a text; if he didn’t hear back, he forwarded the issue to the ski patrol.

> So far that day, Sergeant Watson had fielded seven referrals from 911, four of which he forwarded to the ski patrol. He turned to Ms. Dummer: How many crash-detection calls had come in overall? Eleven, she said, out of 30 calls total.

First off, if your watch has been repeatedly making false calls to 911 for three days then take off the watch or turn it off. You KNOW it is making bogus calls, after the first two or three it is time to start issuing fines.

Second, the obvious reaction is already happening:

> In Grand County, home to a busy mountain called Winter Park, Sheriff Brett Schroetlin decided in late December to devote less attention to the crash-detection calls. Now if a 911 operator receives one from the slopes and no one is on the other end of the line, they know to ignore the call; no more referrals or follow-ups. None of the ghost calls so far have been real emergencies, Sheriff Schroetlin reasoned, and he couldn’t afford to waste limited resources. Besides, he said, there was a better technology: human beings.