Apple announced the Emergency SOS via satellite feature with the iPhone 14 series launch earlier this year. The service finally went live last month for users in the US and Canada. And already, in what seems to be the first reported real-life usage of the feature, Emergency SOS via Satellite helped in the rescue of a snowmobiler stuck in rural Alaska.
According to the Alaska State Troopers, Apple’s Emergency Response Center coordinated with local search and rescue teams, and the NWAB SAR (Northwest Arctic Borough Search and Rescue Coordinator) dispatched four volunteer searchers directly to the GPS coordinates provided by the Emergency Response Center. The snowmobiler was finally rescued, and then transported to Kotzebue by the search and rescue team.
On December 1, 2022, at around 2:00 am, the Alaska State Troopers were notified that an adult male traveling via snowmachine from Noorvik to Kotzebue had activated an Apple iPhone Emergency SOS via satellite on his iPhone after becoming stranded.
Working with local search and rescue teams, the Apple Emergency Response Center, and the Northwest Arctic Borough Search and Rescue Coordinator, the NWAB SAR deployed four volunteer searchers to the Nimiuk Point area directly to the GPS coordinates provided by the Apple Emergency Response Center.
The adult male was located and transported to Kotzebue by the volunteer search team. There were no injuries reported to Troopers.
– Press Release, Alaska Department of Public Safety
How does the Emergency SOS via Satellite Feature Work?
The iPhone 14 series features emergency SOS, where the phone can directly communicate with a satellite to contact emergency services. Although, satellites are actually very slow-moving targets, and they don’t have a lot of bandwidth. To counter this, the new iPhones automatically “front-loads a few questions to assess your situation “.
You can then tap to respond, and the phone will point you to a satellite. Once a connection is established, your iPhone sends “your answers, location, Medical ID (if set up), and battery level to a dispatcher.”
As of now the service is only available in the US and Canada, but according to Apple the service will also be coming to users in France, Germany, Ireland, and UK sometime later this month.