Snowboarder says iPhone's Emergency SOS saved his life after falling into crevasse

midian182

Posts: 7,899   +82
Staff member
In brief: Apple's iPhone Emergency SOS feature has been credited with saving a life after a person fell 15 feet into a hidden crevasse while snowboarding alone at 10,000 feet in the Swiss Alps.

LBC reports that 41-year-old British man Tim Blakey—a veteran snowboarder of 17 years—fell into the hole when the snow below him gave way. He would have fallen even further had it not been for the fragile snow bridge Blakey landed on.

Beware of hidden holes when snowboarding

Making matters worse for the personal trainer was the 3% charge left on his iPhone battery. Luckily, he had a battery booster in his backpack, but had to move "very, very carefully to get it off and get it out." There was also the problem of the screen being covered in ice and snow. So he decided to use the device's Emergency SOS feature instead of trying to scroll through the wet display.

Blakey knew to activate Emergency SOS by pressing the iPhone's power button five times. This automatically called the local emergency services, transmitted his exact location, and messaged his emergency contacts.

"I had a 3G connection down there but needed it [the iPhone] on long enough for them to locate me. It was 20 minutes before I got hold of the emergency services, and they told me not to move," he explained.

It took 45 minutes of being trapped in the crevasse before rescue volunteer Michael Schwarzl, who had received the text with the snowboarder's location, led the rescue team that found Blakey and called for a helicopter air lift.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tim Blakey (@mrtimblakey)

Blakey thanked Schwarzl and Apple in an Instagram post, praising the Emergency SOS feature's usefulness, especially "when your screen is constantly being dripped on."

In 2019, the Emergency SOS feature was credited with saving a woman from an attempted sexual assault. It was also used via an Apple Watch to save the life of a swimmer who fell through the ice last year.

Masthead credit: Felipe Giacometti

Permalink to story.

 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 838   +1,449
3G connection?

That snow boarder is lucky because 3G won't be around much longer, I know Verizon ends their 3G support at the end of the year.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,207   +4,246
Pretty sure any smartphone can have, if it doesn't already, a similar feature. Forgive me for being cynical but the fact that this gets called out as specifically 'iPhone feature saves life!' really sounds like underhanded Apple advertisement. Not by anyone here of course but the fact that the story was picked at all by press probably has a link to some reporters having at the very least an uncomfortable and compromisingly cozy relationship to Apple marketing and/or PR.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 694   +1,089
3G connection?

That snow boarder is lucky because 3G won't be around much longer, I know Verizon ends their 3G support at the end of the year.
Verizon?

I don't think Verizon operates in Europe. Realistically older network support is maintained as long as it's the only thing that provides full coverage. The reason 3G is being phased out in the US is because LTE covers everything 3G does here. The only people still using it are those with phones without LTE support. That's not true of every country and obviously not true in Switzerland based on this story. In addition, here's a coverage map from Sunrise's network in Switzerland that shows they still depend on GSM/3G in some parts.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,365   +2,882
TechSpot Elite
Pretty sure any smartphone can have, if it doesn't already, a similar feature. Forgive me for being cynical but the fact that this gets called out as specifically 'iPhone feature saves life!' really sounds like underhanded Apple advertisement. Not by anyone here of course but the fact that the story was picked at all by press probably has a link to some reporters having at the very least an uncomfortable and compromisingly cozy relationship to Apple marketing and/or PR.
Ordinarily I would agree with you here but we'd both be wrong if I did. Apparently this Emergency S.O.S. feature is only for Android phones using Android 12 or later. My phone uses Android 11 so I don't have access to it. This is one of the areas in which I would have to hand the win to Apple even though I can't stand that company.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,207   +4,246
Ordinarily I would agree with you here but we'd both be wrong if I did. Apparently this Emergency S.O.S. feature is only for Android phones using Android 12 or later. My phone uses Android 11 so I don't have access to it. This is one of the areas in which I would have to hand the win to Apple even though I can't stand that company.
I think I covered that since I said it should be possible and already is possible for some Android phones though.

To conceded a bit to your point it'd be nice if a feature like Apple could be just mandated across all new phones to standardize them, kinda like we almost did so with USB-C charging except for Apple.

So ultimately I can agree there's rare ocassions where Apple does something kinda right and kinda early or even before anyone else. It's just a shame that it gets greatly diluted into just another reason to increase their market share and tightly controlled ecosystem: useful features like this one shouldn't depend on the benevolence of Apple at all, it's a rare exception to the otherwise stiffing of innovation that Apple represents with their overwhelming presence in the market.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,365   +2,882
TechSpot Elite
So ultimately I can agree there's rare ocassions where Apple does something kinda right and kinda early or even before anyone else. It's just a shame that it gets greatly diluted into just another reason to increase their market share and tightly controlled ecosystem: useful features like this one shouldn't depend on the benevolence of Apple at all, it's a rare exception to the otherwise stiffing of innovation that Apple represents with their overwhelming presence in the market.
You and I are in full agreement on that my friend. I couldn't agree more.
 

DonquixoteIII

Posts: 110   +65
Many countries have a 'text' to their emergency phone number that relies on the SMS feature. This feature is available to every GSM modem, which includes Apple's iPhone series. Interestingly, this feature is blocked on iPads with cellular, and can only be accessed through partnering with an iPhone

Since this 'feature' is baked in to every cellular network, and the emergency SMS feature is available for many countries, blocking this on cellular enabled iPads is doing the speech impaired community a great disservice. Yay for iPhones saving a person. BOOO for Apple disabling emergency service access via iPads with cellular service.
 
Ordinarily I would agree with you here but we'd both be wrong if I did. Apparently this Emergency S.O.S. feature is only for Android phones using Android 12 or later. My phone uses Android 11 so I don't have access to it. This is one of the areas in which I would have to hand the win to Apple even though I can't stand that company.
Not true. I use Realme 7 Pro with Android 11 (already upgraded from Android 10). There is Emergency SOS menu in the setting. Just need to press Power button 5x
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,214   +261
Pretty sure any smartphone can have, if it doesn't already, a similar feature. Forgive me for being cynical but the fact that this gets called out as specifically 'iPhone feature saves life!' really sounds like underhanded Apple advertisement. Not by anyone here of course but the fact that the story was picked at all by press probably has a link to some reporters having at the very least an uncomfortable and compromisingly cozy relationship to Apple marketing and/or PR.

I also feel this way. of course this is different than apple watch dialing SOS the moment it detects a hard fall from a motorcyclist. that is truly life saving because "fall detection" is not a shortcut and most other smartwatches does not have it.

this pressing the power button 5 times is simply a shortcut. the same shortcut that has been in some android phone too. I just learned that my 2019 android phone could do the same. samsung many years ago have implemented sos message feature by pressing the power button 3 times.

now how many iphone owners are even aware of this feature would be interesting to know.

anyway a man was saved during snowboarding and today I learned how to call SOS with hardware buttons. so thanks for the PSA.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,703   +6,645
I think I covered that since I said it should be possible and already is possible for some Android phones though.

To conceded a bit to your point it'd be nice if a feature like Apple could be just mandated across all new phones to standardize them, kinda like we almost did so with USB-C charging except for Apple.

So ultimately I can agree there's rare ocassions where Apple does something kinda right and kinda early or even before anyone else. It's just a shame that it gets greatly diluted into just another reason to increase their market share and tightly controlled ecosystem: useful features like this one shouldn't depend on the benevolence of Apple at all, it's a rare exception to the otherwise stiffing of innovation that Apple represents with their overwhelming presence in the market.
I have a Moto X4 on Android 9 and it does have an emergency call feature on the lock screen - similar to what is shown at this link. https://gadgetguideonline.com/android/how-to-use-the-android-10-emergency-button/
Heck, the phone I upgraded from a Samsung Smiley, had one of the hard buttons labelled as SOS on its lock screen
Samsung-Smiley-T359-Review-Design-08.webp
it was above the left "off-hook" button.
While you could argue that on the Moto X4 it is not the same as having a hard button short cut, it can summon emergency services, so I'd have to argue that at least some pre-Android 10 phones have a similar feature, and if I were in an emergency situation, I would be happy to have that feature available to me.

It sounds like there is one difference between the Moto X4 and this guy's iPhone and that is the Moto X4 is rated IP68 waterproof. I don't know the exact details of this guy's situation, but being dripped on or having ice/snow on my phone would have been no hindrance for me.

So, crApple is not the only company to think of their customer's safety. Lucky for this guy he had the emergency feature.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,703   +6,645
As a bit of a follow-up, over the weekend, I was typing in a URL into Firefox on my Android Moto X4 that had the word "help" in it. When I finished spelling out "help" in the URL bar, a red button labelled "SOS" appeared in the typing suggestions bar. I did not press it, however, I got the distinct impression that if I had, it would have been the equivalent of another emergency button.