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28 Jan, 2023
2 min time to read

In November, Apple introduced the Emergency SOS via satellite feature for iPhone 14 users. Since then, there have been several reports of the feature being used in real-life scenarios.

An incident in Canada has highlighted the life-saving capabilities of Emergency SOS via satellite, as it helped rescue two women who were stranded in the wilderness due to a mistake made on Google Maps.

According to the Times Colonist, two women got lost while on their way home from a trip to Alberta. When the main highway was closed due to an accident, they used Google Maps to find an alternate route. The map led them down a partially plowed service road in Holmes Forrest, which they were not aware of. After driving around 20 kilometers, they hit a "wall of snow" where the plow had stopped and got stuck. Since they were deep in the forest, there was no cell service. However, one of the women had an iPhone 14 with the new Emergency SOS via satellite feature which they were able to use to call for help.

The two women had traveled approximately 20 kilometers on a service road in a forest before encountering a "wall of snow" caused by a plow that had stopped. With no cell service in the area, one of the women used the Emergency SOS via satellite feature on her iPhone 14 to send a message and their location to an Apple call center. The call center then contacted the "Northern911" center in Canada, which activated emergency services in British Columbia. Search and rescue teams, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the British Columbia Search and rescue team, and the Robson Valley Search and Rescue, were able to locate the women using the GPS coordinates provided, and helped the vehicle out of the snow and back towards the highway.

Dwight Yochim, a senior manager with British Columbia Search and Rescue, stated that he believes the recent use of the emergency SOS via satellite feature on the iPhone 14 in British Columbia is the first of its kind.

There’s no cell service there but one of them happened to have the new Apple phone that has the SOS in it and activated the SOS and to my knowledge, that’s the first use of the SOS in British Columbia.
If they didn’t have this, what would have happened is eventually the family or their work would have said “hey, they didn’t show up” and so the search area would have been from wherever they were last seen to where they’re supposed to be, and that could have been several hundred kilometres.

He went on to say, "It's the kind of thing that potentially may have saved their life. This is a game changer. This technology has the potential of really helping us save lives and reducing the amount of time it takes to do that." Yochim estimates that his team conducts around 1,700 to 1,800 searches annually and this new feature can significantly decrease that number. He added, "If we know exactly where the subject is, then all we have to do is go in and rescue them."