- A man in Alaska became stranded while traveling on a snow machine at around 2 a.m.
- He used Apple’s iPhone Emergency SOS via satellite feature, on iPhone 14 and 14 Pro, to be rescued.
- The iPhone feature helps users without cellular and wifi coverage contact emergency services.
A man in Alaska used Apple’s new Emergency SOS via Satellite feature to be rescued after he became stranded in an area without cellular or WiFi signals while traveling on a snow machine.
Around 2 a.m. on Friday, Alaska State Troopers received a notification that an adult man had activated the feature while traveling from Noorvik to Kotzebue, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety (ADPS). The man’s snow machine became disabled, an ADPS spokesperson confirmed to Insider.
The Apple Emergency Response Center worked with local search and rescue teams and the Northwest Arctic Borough Search and Rescue Coordinate, who sent four volunteer searchers to where Apple’s GPS coordinates showed the ping came from. The search and rescue teams were dispatched at 3:30 a.m, the ADPS spokesperson told Insider.
The stranded man was found at Nimiuk Point and taken to Kotzebue by the team at 6 a.m., according to ADPS. He had no reported injuries.
The stranded man had “appropriate clothing and firestarting supplies,” and rescuers believe he was familiar with the area and travelling by snowmachine, the ADPS spokesperson told Insider. He did not have another form of satellite communication.
Had the stranded man not had a satellite communication device, like the iPhone 14 in this case, the ADPS spokesperson told Insider the man may have been stranded for “several hours” until someone noticed he was missing.
Historical weather data from Weather Underground shows that temperatures at 2 a.m. on Friday around Kotzebue hung in the low twenties Fahrenheit.
Using the iPhone 14 with Emergency SOS via Satellite, the stranded man was able to relay useful information to rescuers, like what clothing he was wearing, what kind of supplies he had, a description of his snow machine, whether he had injuries, and weather information of his location, the ADPS spokesperson told Insider.
Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature that communicates with Apple’s Emergency Response Center allowed the rescue team to receive this information faster than a typical satellite communication device.
“Typically we have to ask that information of a person ourselves and that can take some time going back and forth over satellite,” the ADPS spokesperson told Insider. “Having that information from the start allowed us to make quick decisions that helped this story have a happy ending.”
“The entire team involved in this incident was extremely impressed with the accuracy of the location provided and the initial information that the Apple Emergency Response Center was able to provide when they first notified first responders,” the ADPS spokesperson added.
Apple and Tim Cook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The Emergency SOS via Satellite feature is available on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models for free for two years after activating the phone. It allows users to contact emergency services when there’s no cellular or WiFi coverage. Instead, the user’s iPhone communicates with a satellite to try to connect them.
Directly under the sky, a message could take around 15 seconds to send, while under light or medium foliage, it can take over a minute, according to Apple. Users under heavy foliage or other obstructions might not be able to connect.
You can demo Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature without actually alerting rescue services before setting off on an adventure or journey to get a feel for the feature and how it works.