New iPhone 911 Feature is Raising Hell with MT Search and Rescue
An emergency calling feature built into the new iPhone 14 is a real innovation. Using a variety of motion sensors and speed data, it can automatically dial 911 if your phone thinks you've been in a car accident. The phone will automatically start a countdown timer to dial emergency responders. If you don't press cancel, you'll be talking to 911. This is great if you're knocked unconscious or whatever.
The phone will even connect to a satellite in SOS mode if you don't have cell service. As far as I know, this is the only phone in the US to have this feature and it could be a lifesaver in Montana, where large portions of the state have minimal coverage. You can read more about how it works at Apple.com. There is one slight problem though...
Gallatin County Sheriffs are getting tons of false alarms. From skiers.
A post from the Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue on 12/16 revealed an interesting issue with the new iPhone's potentially lifesaving SOS Mode. It appears that the phone thinks you've been in an accident if you wipe out while skiing. In just sixteen days, GCSO has received 28 FALSE ALARMS from the iPhone 14. All the calls came from Big Sky, Bridger Bowl, and the Yellowstone Club and none of the automatically dialed 911 calls came from people in danger. Here's a link to their post.
Do this, not that.
The Search and Rescue teams post included some guidelines for iPhone 14 users and 911 emergency call procedures they would like you to follow. While these were written for Gallatin County, one could surmise that a similar protocol is appropriate across the state. They wrote,
- 1. If you catch it in time, stay on the line and tell dispatch who you are, where you are, what you are doing, and that it was an accident (or what the emergency is).
- 2. If you do not respond, Gallatin County 911’s policy is to call back the phone number, twice. Please answer this call and give the above information.
- 3. Expect a call from a deputy, to see ski patrol, or if in the backcountry, possibly SAR. As public safety personnel, it is their duty to make sure you are ok.
While it may seem inconvenient and frustrating, the time you take to answer these simple questions on the front end significantly reduces the amount of unnecessary first responder resources on the back end. We say it all the time, accidents happen. Technology is both our friend and our enemy. Please help us help you.