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US Coast Guard rescues stranded kayakers who used an Apple Watch to call for help

Published Dec 4th, 2019 7:36PM EST
Apple Watch
Image: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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There’s a reason why some insurance companies have started to subsidize the cost of new Apple Watches for their members: the device not only contributes to a healthier lifestyle, but has proven that it can actually help save lives.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen no shortage of stories involving Apple Watch owners who were alerted to a potentially grave heart condition via their device. And with the release of the ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 last year, these stories have only multiplied. That said, heart-related monitoring certainly isn’t the only way in which the Apple Watch continues to help save lives.

Most recently, a pair of stranded kayakers off Ocean Park Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico used the SOS feature on the Apple Watch to call for help. Originally brought to light via 9to5Mac, a helicopter was sent to pick up the kayakers this past Sunday after their kayaks capsized and started to sink, leaving them treading water for several hours.

The US Coast Guard report on the incident reads in part:

“The kayakers are very fortunate to have survived,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Hornbruch, an Air Station Borinquen aviation survival technician. “The survivors were able to use a smart watch to communicate with 911 and Coast Guard watchstanders. After their kayaks sank, they were treading water in unfavorable sea conditions due to not having lifejackets. We commend our Sector San Juan watchstanders and the Puerto Rico Police aircrew, who did an excellent job assisting our crew with the rescue effort.”

If the story above sounds somewhat familiar, you may recall a story from last year where a woman, who upon being struck by a drunk driver, used her Apple Watch to call 911 as her iPhone was out of reach.

It’s worth highlighting that the SOS feature on the Apple Watch, when engaged, not only calls nearby emergency services but also shares pertinent location information. It’s worth adding that the feature can be used on any Apple Watch with cellular connectivity (a carrier plan is not required) or any Apple Watch that happens to be paired with a nearby iPhone.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.