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Hiker with broken leg rescued by helicopter thanks to Emergency SOS via Satellite

A hiker who broke her leg was airlifted to safety by helicopter after using her iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature.

The woman was able to call for help, despite not even knowing how the feature worked …

Emergency SOS via Satellite

Apple first announced the feature during the iPhone 14 keynote, with the service going live in the US and Canada in November of last year. A month later, it rolled out to the UK, France, Germany, and Ireland, and its international expansion has continued since then.

With Emergency SOS via satellite — introduced with the iPhone 14 lineup — if a user is not able to reach emergency services because no cellular or Wi-Fi coverage is available, an easy-to-use interface appears on iPhone to get the user help utilizing a satellite connection. A short questionnaire appears to help the user answer vital questions with a few simple taps, which is transmitted to dispatchers in the initial message, to ensure they are able to quickly understand a user’s situation and location. Apple worked closely with experts to review standard questions and protocols to identify the most common reasons for calling emergency services. 

Following the questionnaire, the intuitive interface guides the user where to point their iPhone to connect and sends the initial message. This message includes the user’s questionnaire responses; location, including altitude; iPhone battery level; and Medical ID, if enabled. The questionnaire and follow-up messages are relayed directly via satellite to dispatchers that accept text messages, or to relay centers staffed by Apple‑trained specialists who can call for help on the user’s behalf. The transcript can also be shared with the user’s emergency contacts to keep them informed.

The feature has been described as a “game changer” by search and rescue teams, and has been credited with a number of helicopter rescues.

Hiker with broken leg rescued

ABC7 today reports on the latest successful rescue.

A woman who suffered a broken leg while hiking in Tujunga was able to call 911 despite not having cell phone service due to a new and innovative feature on the iPhone 14.

Juana Reyes was hiking with friends in a remote part of Trail Canyon Falls in the Angelos National Forest when the trail collapsed underneath her.

“We tried to get a hold of 911 but there was no service on our phones,” said Reyes in an interview with Eyewitness News. “Thankfully, my phone has that SOS satellite feature that was able to connect to… I don’t know exactly how it works, I’m assuming satellites.”

LA County search and rescue says that this is its third rescue so far this year made possible by the iPhone feature.

Unlike many iPhone features, which non-techies may not even know exist, Emergency SOS via Satellite automatically prompts users when required. If you attempt to make a 911 call, and no cell service is available, your iPhone 14 will automatically present you with a button to use the satellite message service instead.

One of the first responders involved in the rescue tweeted a video of Reyes being hoisted into the helicopter.

All ended well, with Reyes now back at home and expected to make a full recovery.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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