COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — This past weekend, more than 80,000 people attended the annual Bonnaroo festival. However, this year, a rise in false 911 calls brought more first responders to the festival than normal. The cause — a new feature from Apple that automatically calls 911 when a device is moved rapidly.
During this year’s festival, there were about five times the amount of false 911 calls than average, according to Director of Coffee County 911 Communication Center Scott LeDuc. The director said luckily, the false calls did not negatively impact first responders’ ability to respond to real emergencies.
“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.”
The false calls are believed to be triggered when festival goers danced to the live performances. LeDuc had alerts sent to those in the area encouraging people to deactivate the “Crash Detection Mode” feature. He said the alerts were successful.
“It reduced the amount of calls that we were getting,” LeDuc said. “It probably reduced it 40 to 60 percent.”
The director said Apple offered to travel to Coffee County to help with the situation. However, LeDuc was able to diagnose the issue over the phone.
With the help of Bonnaroo, Coffee County was able to locate each caller to confirm that the 911 call was false.
Coffee County wants to ensure that the issue is not repeated. Nearby Nashville Superspeedway is hosting the Ally 400 NASCAR race this upcoming weekend. Coffee County has worked closely with Wilson County to prepare responders to a potential increase in calls.
“If somebody dials 911, we have to answer the phone and we have to make sure that we go through all the protocols to make sure that everybody’s safe before we close out that call,” said LeDuc.
LeDuc said that he is grateful for first responders’ work in responding to the false calls at the festival.
“The Manchester Police Department did an outstanding job of going and searching for the folks because you don’t know if it’s a real emergency or if it’s just a pocket dial,” LeDuc said.