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B.C. search and rescue gets 3 false calls from Apple crash detection software

Calls came from backcountry users who did not need help

Search and Rescue organizations are warning Apple Watch and latest iPhone users that they need to update their software, as new technology in these devices are able to detect if they’ve been in a crash, sometimes resulting in SAR teams getting sent on “wild goose chases.”

Golden and District Search and Rescue (GADSAR) said on Facebook that they’d received three calls in two days stemming from this new Apple crash detection.

The iPhone 14, 14 Pro, Apple Watch 8, Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Ultra, equipped with the latest iOs or watchOS software comes with crash detection turned on automatically. According to Apple Support, this means that your device can “detect severe car crashes,” and when a severe crash is detected the device reads the alert and displays an Emergency Call slider.

If you are unable to respond, your device will automatically call emergency services after a 20-second delay and then, if you’ve added emergency contacts, will send them a message with your location.

However, if the motion sensors are activated by being jostled in your backpack, or a snowmobile’s glove box, and you miss the alert in that 20-second window, it can contact emergency services.

According to an interview he gave to the Globe and Mail, GADSAR manager Kyle Hale said that they dispatched two rescuers and a helicopter to a site RCMP received an emergency alert from, with the resulting search costing them $10,000.

GADSAR urges the public to look up the model of your device before going into the backcountry and learning how you can mitigate these unnecessary emergency calls.


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About the Author: Paul Rodgers

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