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Smartwatches causing issues at Montana ski resort

Discovery skier
Posted at 7:37 AM, Jan 04, 2023

PHILIPSBURG - Most smartphones have a cool safety feature where you can dial 911 by clicking the side button a few times.

Now some smartwatches will even call 911 if it senses you have fallen down, but this has led to a big problem with accidental 911 calls around the country.

One example is at the Granite County Sheriff’s Office, which is now seeing more and more of these calls come from Discovery Ski Area. Falling isn't unusual on the ski hill, and the county's small 911 dispatch center is being overwhelmed by emergency calls that people did not intend to make.

Sheriff Scott Dunkerson says the calls are dangerous, as they can distract dispatchers from emergencies.

"The ski hill at times – Discovery -- can have quite a few people visiting on the weekends and we've been getting a substantial amount of 911 calls, accidental dials into dispatch,” Sheriff Dunkerson told MTN News. “And at times, when it's busy in dispatch, that can overload...the resources that we have because we only have one dispatcher."

Dunkerson is asking that people check their emergency settings before they go to the ski hill. He added that if people have an emergency and the dispatch is busy, they can text 911 to reach help faster.