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

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 gave him 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.

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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

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