iPhone software sent 28 fake distress calls from skiers in Gallatin County this month


Apple’s new car accident detection feature has caused 28 emergency calls to Gallatin County 911 this month, all of which were non-distress signals from skiers, according to a Dec. 15 Instagram post from Gallatin County Search and Rescue.

The feature uses various sensors and data to detect a suspected car accident and alert authorities. All calls the country has received through this feature since Dec. 1 have come from the iPhones of skiers at Big Sky Resort, Bridger Bowl or the Yellowstone Club that did not require emergency services, the post said.

As technology moves into the backcountry, Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue offered tips for iPhone users to avoid false calls to Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue:

If you notice your phone or watch sending a false emergency alert, stay on the line with the dispatcher, give them your location and activity, and let them know the call was an accident. If you do not respond, Gallatin County 911 will attempt to call your phone number twice. If you have accidentally made a fake emergency call, Gallatin County SAR asks that you answer these calls if possible and provide the above information.

Expect to get a call from a deputy sheriff or see ski patrols or SAR crews when you’re inland. If you do not respond to any of the earlier calls, public safety personnel will likely be dispatched to ensure your safety.

While Gallatin County SAR understood that accidents happen, the social media post urged people to heed these tips to avoid unnecessary spending on rescue equipment while skiing.

A later update to the post suggests that Apple has since issued an update to address false calls and Gallatin County SAR suspects this will help minimize further accidental emergency calls.