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Missouri State Highway Patrol reports surge in 911 hang up calls on Table Rock Lake

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 3:45 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - On a busy lake weekend, the Missouri Highway Patrol is receiving anywhere from 60 to 80 accidental 911 calls. Dispatchers are asking for help from boaters to prevent this.

Sergeant Mike McClure said this is happening because of a feature on the iPhone called “Emergency SOS.”

“We can swipe it on or we can swipe it off and if it’s on that means the phone can dial 911 by being jostled and typically it’s in a cupholder in a boat,” Mike McClure said.

Boater Amber Mcmillan said she once almost dialed 911 on her phone because of this setting.

“I don’t know how it happens, but I’ve actually seen that on my phone before and I just rush to cancel it before it actually dials 911,” McMillan said.

McMillan said knowing about this setting is important because it’s an easy mistake to make.

”Stuffed in a bag with things and it accidentally gets pushed or kids accidentally do it, we don’t want it to crowd the system and for them to miss real emergencies because of that,” said McMillan.

Sergeant McClure said Stone County Emergency services will receive the call from the boater’s phone, then notify the Troop D communication center.

”Therefore they assign a marine trooper to investigate the open line that had been activated and sometimes there has been multiple activations in a given day,” McClure said.

He said last weekend they received 24 accidental calls from the lake.

”We are basically creating a time burglar for the marine officers having to investigate and sometimes they are going to a location that’s not very specific.”

The phone may ping to a cove or close to a point marker, but when marine troopers arrive there is more than just one boat.

”They may see close to 100 boats and they’re trying to find where the distress is coming from,” Sgt. McClure said.

The message to the boating community is simple.

”Be aware that this feature is on your iPhone and simply turn it off before you get in the boat and maybe turn it back on when you’re done for the day,” said Sgt. McClure.

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