For most of us, fall detection on the Apple Watch is one feature we hope to never need. For William Bout, a designer based in San Francisco, the feature on newer Apple Watches is indispensable.

Bout was knocked unconscious when a car hit them during their morning commute to work this week. Fortunately, the Apple Watch fall detection feature kicked in and automatically dialed emergency services to call for help.

Got hit by a car this morning on way to work. I don’t have a lot of memories from the event but Apple Watch automatically called 911 (I was unconscious) and paramedics were within minutes. Technology truly feels amazing sometimes.

A remarkable outcome from a terrifying situation no one wants to ever experience. We wish William a fast recovery (and best of luck with the e-bike repair).

Apple Watch Series 4 and later include a built-in fall detection feature. It’s turned off by default if you’re under 65, but anyone can turn it on from the Watch app on the iPhone.

The feature works by intelligently detecting when a sudden fall occurs, automatically calling emergency services if the person doesn’t dismiss the alert within one minute of falling. If the person’s emergency contact information is filled out, that contact will be notified with a text message and a map of the watch’s location at the time of the fall.

Calling emergency services isn’t only a feature on the Apple Watch when you’re knocked out. Pressing and holding the side button can also call emergency services and notify your emergency contact if you need help.

Apple Watch Series 5 adds international emergency calling as well:

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) can call local emergency services when you’re in another country or region. When you start an Emergency SOS call while abroad, your watch connects to local emergency services, but it doesn’t send your location or a text message to your emergency contacts. In some countries and regions, international emergency calling works even if you haven’t set up cellular service on the watch. Learn which countries and regions are supported.

Just like when you use Emergency SOS in your home country or region, your iPhone needs to be nearby if your Apple Watch Series 5 isn’t a cellular model.

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About the Author


Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created