San Diego

Injured San Diego hiker rescued by iPhone SOS feature

The feature can be used to communicate to emergency services if you’re in an area outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage

NBC Universal, Inc.

Many people claim they can’t live without their phone, but that has a whole new meaning for Rancho Bernardo hiker Juana Reyes.

Last week, Reyes and her friends were hiking in the Los Angeles National Forest when she lost her balance and fell.

“All I can remember was yelling, ‘My foot,’ and trying to get up, but I couldn’t,” she said. “The pain was just so unbearable.”

Reyes felt a crack and landed on the ground. She said her leg was contorted in a way that was not its natural state.

Her friends immediately picked up their phones to call for help — but there was no cell service in the remote terrain.

“How are we going to get out of this?” Reyes asked herself. “That was the biggest thing on my mind.”

But then she got help from an unexpected source: an SOS feature on her iPhone.

How the iPhone SOS feature works

The feature can be used to communicate to emergency services if you’re in an area outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.

“If you just try dialing 911 on an iPhone 14, just like you would normally, if you’re not in any cellular coverage, it will convert it to a satellite activation,” Mike Leum with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team said.

When the service is activated, it asks the user a series of questions about their condition and location. It even gives directions on how to position the phone to find the nearest satellite.

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Leum said his team received an alert from Apple when Reyes used the feature.

“Our station notified us of an activation of an injured hiker up the trail near the waterfall,” Leum said.

He says it’s the third Apple SOS call they’ve received since the service launched back in November.

“It’s very helpful for us, and the call goes immediately to the nearest 911 call center,” he said.

This advancement in technology not only makes life easier for first responders but also for those in need of help — like Reyes, who broke her ankle.

“For me, it was my leg,” she said. “It could have been a different situation for somebody else, and it would be lifesaving.”

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