Dispatchers report surge in false 911 calls from Apple Watch users

An Apple Watch. (Wikimedia)

Local emergency departments said they've noticed an uptick in false 911 calls from people using Apple Watches.

According to dispatchers in Tolland, their 911 telecommunicators have been experiencing a surge after an update to the device that now allows users to quickly call for help in an emergency situation.

Suffield police said they have received a couple of those calls as well.

"We probably have had other ones when we've received 911 calls that doesn't actually dictate or show that it's come from an Apple Watch," said Capt. Christopher McKee, Suffield police.

Police called it the equivalent to butt- or pocket-dialing. In these cases, however, they said it's more like "wrist-dialing."

For the SoS feature to activate, all users have to do is press and hold the side button on the watch. Then, they'll see a red SoS slider option. Choosing the option dials 911.

It's happened by accident enough times to prompt Tolland dispatchers to post a warning.

"If you use an Apple Watch please be aware that your wrist may easily dial 911 without your knowledge if the Apple SoS feature is enabled," dispatchers said.

If users do accidentally dial 911, dispatchers urged them to stay on the line to inform them what happened.

"If you disconnect the call prior to speaking to someone, the telecommunicator will need to focus their attention on attempting to call you back to determine that you are not experiencing a true police, fire, or medical emergency," Tolland dispatchers said.

"We need people to stay on the phone so we can address it immediately," McKee said.

As for people Eyewitness News spoke with in Suffield, they said they would never want to take up any of an emergency responder's time if they don't have to.

"It's definitely important that people pay attention and they're not wasting dispatchers' time," said Colleen Jordan of Suffield.

McKee said it's important that users know what the technology is capable of.

"Please know your equipment, please know what to do, if in fact a mistake happens," he said.

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