In the mobile world, technology advancements are happening left and right. This is especially true when it comes to personal safety. On Apple devices, just the swipe of the Emergency SOS function can easily call emergency services. But, at what point does it become too easy? In some cases, it’s so easy that even your pocket can contact emergency dispatch services completely hands-free. This has actually been a recent problem for many Apple iPhone users due to a new system update and it’s wreaking havoc on emergency dispatchers.
What Is The Problem?
The recent SOS update for Apple devices allows users to immediately call emergency services after you quickly click the power button 5 consecutive times. In theory, this can cut down the amount of time it takes to dial emergency services, which is important during a dyer emergency situation. It can also prove to be helpful in more dangerous situations where users may not be able to talk to an emergency dispatcher.
While the intent to improve contact with emergency services is present, the update has resulted in more than 7,000 9-1-1 misdials. Some people have reported that these misdials were the result of common activities, from rough housing with relatives to bumping their Apple Watch while unloading their groceries.
Since the update has been released, the number of non-emergency, pocket dial dispatch calls has surpassed the amount recorded from the previous year. Apple has taken the majority of the blame for this due to the new SOS update.
How Is This Affecting Emergency Services?
When incidents like this occur, many people hang up immediately in a panic. When people hang up the phone without notifying the dispatch officer that the call is not actually an emergency, this can result in a lot of time wasted. And in a real emergency, time is everything.
The actual protocol for an abandoned 9-1-1 call is to immediately call that number back to confirm that the situation is not urgent. That call usually takes a few minutes from start to finish and ultimately is taking time away from real emergencies.
If you deny this return call, dispatchers will invest time into tracking the location of the call or even sending an officer to the scene. This process is incredibly time-consuming and will always result in a large amount of lost resources.
What You Should Do If This Happens To You
If you’ve engaged in a call with emergency services, it is important that you remain on the line to ensure the operator understands that the situation is not a real emergency. Do not hang up the phone. If you accidentally hang up the phone in a panic, make sure to answer when they call you back and let them know you don’t have an emergency.
To avoid these misdial issues in the future, you have a couple different options:
- If this has happened to you more than once, Apple recommends that you disable the feature in your settings.
- Download a medical alert system, like the Rescu app that connects you directly to emergency services, completely bypassing 9-1-1 dispatchers.
With Rescu, you can quickly send for fire, police, or medical help in just two taps. No talking required and no accidental misdials.