Emergency Responders Seeing an Increase in Accidental Calls

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Winter is upon us which comes along with many things including an increased amount of accidental emergency calls to emergency responders from ski resorts. 
The yearly occurrence of increased accidental calls are starting to come in, Hancock Emergency Management Director David Rash told the Central Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee last week. 
When someone is injured on the mountain the procedure is to call the resort so that it can send ski patrol to assist the person, Rash said.
However, some skiers call 911 as a knee jerk reaction and when the first responders arrive on the scene, they are confronted with confusion by the resort. 
iPhones have also contributed to this due to their emergency settings that cause accidental dials to the emergency number.
The caller unknowingly calls the emergency number by holding down the side button and volume button. 
"With iPhones, a lot of the settings are designed to protect people, but I don't think, when people are getting a new phone, I don't think they educate them to what the settings can be or can't be. They come with a standardized setting," said Lt. Col. Thomas Grady of the sheriff's office.
"People are apologetic; they stick it in their cup holder and if it's leaning against the side button, it dials 911. Most times they don't even hear it over the noise, road noise and stuff. The dispatchers are required to call back and try to get in contact with them and so it's a challenge. The technology is wonderful, but it's a challenge." 
Grady is not opposed to the technology he just feels people should be more aware of the safety settings. He thinks that it is a wonderful tool that helps improve safety. 
"I'm not opposed to the safety features. It's wonderful. I don't know if you remember a few years back when we had the plane crash up in Florida, where everybody survived. That was an iPhone or iWatch activation. That was the first activation that notified us that something was going on," Grady said. 
"And we were able to talk to the daughter through that notification on the iWatch. So it's great technology. It's just I don't think they educate people enough that they can modify settings, change settings and still have protection." 
Another thing they are seeing is an increase in calls to emergency responders from people who call the next day or later at night after an injury.

Tags: emergency services,   

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Owner of Abandoned Cats Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A woman accused of abandoning more than a dozen cats during snowstorm a year ago has pleaded guilty. 
Kelly Hathaway of Pittsfield pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of animal cruelty in Central Berkshire District Court as part of a plea agreement. Following the plea agreement, she was ordered to have a mental health evaluation and follow any after care as instructed by the court.
She was placed on two years probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. She is not allowed to possess any animals and was ordered to surrender any she has in her care. She is also prohibited from volunteering with any animal groups.
Hathaway and another defendant were charged last March with abandoning 15 cats on back roads in Richmond and Lanesborough after an investigation by Lanesborough Police, Lanesborough Animal Control and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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