Apple Repair Center Floods California 911 Dispatchers With False Alarms

Emergency responders in Elk Grove, Calif., and Sacramento County have been receiving about 20 calls a day from a single Apple repair and refurbishing site.

ELK GROVE, Calif. — Talk about a few rotten apples. Just ask emergency responders in Elk Grove, Calif., and Sacramento County. Their woes began with last fall’s updates for Apple Watches and iPhones, which were supposed to make requesting 911 assistance easier and faster.

But now it appears the devices could be interfering with the response process by bombarding local emergency systems with false alarms.

Officials report they’ve been receiving about 20 calls a day from one Apple repair and refurbishing site, CBS Sacramento reports. Since the problem began in October, about 1,600 calls were reportedly made from the facility.

“We’ve been seeing these calls for the last four months from Apple,” Elk Grove Police Dispatcher Jamie Hudson told CBS Sacramento. “The times when it’s greatly impacting us is when we have other emergencies happening, and we may have a dispatcher on another 911 call that may have to put that call on hold to triage the incoming call.”

According to the news station, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Communication Center has also been receiving calls from the facility. The agency has reportedly received about 47 calls since the beginning of the year. Sgt. Shaun Hampton of the Sheriff’s department told the local news outlet that the dispatchers heard voices “talking about Apple, or devices, or generally about maintenance and repairs.”

The Elk Grove facility is Apple’s main refurbishing center. In 2013, the company opened a second repair site in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Apple Watches and iPhones may make it easier to quickly dial 911, but the Watch’s accidental calls issue has been a known problem for a while now. In early 2017, Tolland County, Conn., emergency responders reported a series of accidental calls coming from Apple Watches in the Tolland and Hartford areas. Earlier this month, a dispatcher in Ottawa County, Mich., told Newsweek his local branch had been receiving accidental butt dials from Apple Watches at least 10 times a day.

Apple hasn’t confirmed which of their devices is actually causing these calls: the iPhone or Apple watch, but both devices can be triggered easily. With just a touch of a button, SOS comes on and 911 is called.

An Apple spokesperson told CBS Sacramento, “We’re aware of 911 calls originating from our Elk Grove repair and refurbishment facility. We take this seriously and we are working closely with local law enforcement to investigate the cause and ensure this doesn’t continue.”

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