Emergency responders experienced a dramatic rise in visits to the Bonnaroo Music Festival, and it is due to false crash reports from Apple’s iPhone and its Crash Detection feature. The annual music festival was held in Coffee County, Tennessee from June 14 to June 18. More than 80,000 people were in attendance.
WKRN reports Scott LeDuc, Director of the Coffee County 911 Communication Center, said there was approximately five times the number of false 911 calls during the festival than average. It’s believed the Crash Detection on the iPhone was behind the rise in false reports. It is believed that festival-goers triggered the feature by dancing to live performances.
“Our employees really stepped up, as first responders always do really step up in the line of duty and they did,” LeDuc said. “And we didn’t have any situation where we couldn’t help someone because of the amount of calls.”
An alert was sent to devices in the area advising to deactivate Crash Detection on iPhones once the calls started to flood in, and it reduced the false reports by half. “It reduced the amount of calls that we were getting,” said LeDuc.
Apple was contacted and offered to visit the county to assist, but the problem was diagnosed over the phone. All callers were located to confirm the 911 calls were false, as a precautionary measure.
There have been several reports of false emergency calls by the iPhone’s Crash Detection feature, as the device has automatically called emergency responders after it was triggered by users engaging in various activities such as riding rollercoasters, skiing, riding snowmobiles, and now dancing (likely not the foxtrot). While the iPhone has been the focus of such reports, Android devices have also been affected by the “false positives.”
In a Crash Detection support document, Apple tells users to stay on the line if an accidental call is placed, so they can explain to the emergency responder that assistance is not required.
If the call has been made, but you don’t need emergency services, don’t hang up. Wait until a responder answers, then explain that you don’t need help.