Apple Watch called emergency services for a swimmer stuck in the cold water of the Columbia River
On June 15, the woman was swimming in the Columbia River near The Dalles, Oregon. However, things became dangerous quite quickly when her foot was caught under rocks at the river’s bottom and she couldn’t get it freed. Then, she used her Apple Watch to call emergency services. The City of The Dalles Police Department then immediately responded to the crisis. According to the police department’s report, the swimmer was showing signs of exhaustion and hypothermia when officers arrived at the scene.
At the time, there were continual rains in the area and the Columbia River was, according to the police, “extremely high”, with water temperature around 56°F (around 13°C) around 6:30 pm. That’s the time when police showed up to help the swimmer.
When using a ladder to reach the swimmer and trying to pry apart the rocks holding her foot didn’t work, one brave policeman decided there was no time and he should get into the water to free her. And he did just that, saving her from freezing just in time.
As you probably know so far, this is not the only time when the Apple Watch has helped someone reach for help. There have been numerous accounts of an Apple Watch being used to call emergency services with its Emergency SOS feature. For example, one man who fell into an icy river and was trapped under the ice used Apple’s wearable to call for help and got rescued.
There are also Apple Watch success stories with its Fall Detection feature, something quite useful for elderly people as it will call emergency services automatically if it detects a fall and the wearer doesn’t press the button “I’m OK”.
Apple Watch Emergency SOS: how it works and how to use it
Hopefully, you will never need to use this feature of the Apple Watch, but if need be, it’s better to know how to do it beforehand.
Here’s how to call emergency services on your Apple Watch:
- Press and hold your watch’s side button (the button below the Digital Crown) until the Emergency SOS slider appears
- Then drag the Emergency SOS slider to start the call immediately
- If you can’t drag the slider, just keep holding the side button. After a countdown, your watch will call emergency services automatically
Keep in mind that to use Emergency SOS on Apple Watch, you need to have the cellular option. If you have the GPS-only Apple Watch, your iPhone has to be nearby. If the iPhone is not nearby, the Apple Watch will need to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network and have Wi-Fi Calling set up. When the Emergency SOS feature is used, your Apple Watch automatically calls local emergency services and shares the location you’re at with them.
If you want to know more about how it works, you can check out this Apple support document on the matter.
The thing is, if you have the Apple Watch, it’s very useful to know about this feature and how to use it. On the other hand, if you also want to set up Fall Detection on your Apple Watch (it’s on automatically if you’ve entered your age in Apple Health or upon setup of the Watch and if you’re older than 55 years old), see this support article.