iPhone’s Emergency SOS via Satellite got credit for saving lives Wednesday when it was the only way a family trapped in a van amid raging wildfires on the island of Maui, Hawaii, could call for help.
The service has brought aid to plenty of people in need so far in its short life, since launch in 2022. This emergency seemed even more fraught than many, as you can see from the frantic texts shown in a post on X below.
Family in Maui wildfire calls for lifesaving help via iPhone 14 with Emergency SOS vis Satellite
The news surfaced from Michael J. Miraflor, who knows the family through his brother, in a post (or xeet, formerly known as a tweet) showing the frantic text communications between the family and responders.
“My brother’s girlfriend’s cousin and his family were caught in their vehicle in Maui while the wildfires suddenly erupted around them,” Miraflor wrote.
“No cell service, so Apple Emergency SOS was the only way they could get in contact with first responders. Literally saved their lives,” he added.
Harrowing chat history
When you click through on the post, you can see it surfaces the chat history between those in the van and the dispatcher for first responders.
It’s clear from the texts that the family knows fire surrounds them, they have basically no visibility and they can’t tell if they should try to drive or not. Repeated reference talk about the car being “super hot.”
The half hour between first contact with responders and their arrival for rescue must have been harrowing.
My brother’s girlfriend’s cousin and his family were caught in their vehicle in Maui while the wildfires suddenly erupted around them.
No cell service, so Apple Emergency SOS was the only way they could get in contact with first responders. Literally saved their lives. pic.twitter.com/PpxNwTGOAf
— Michael J. Miraflor (@michaelmiraflor) August 10, 2023
Emergency SOS via Satellite
Emergency SOS via Satellite launched on all iPhone 14 models in November 2022. It lets someone outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage exchange text with emergency services personnel.
“Some of the most popular places to travel are off the beaten path and simply lack cellular coverage. With Emergency SOS via satellite, the iPhone 14 lineup provides an indispensable tool that can get users the help they need while they are off the grid,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple SVP of worldwide marketing, when the service came out.
“Our teams worked tirelessly to tackle a new set of technical challenges to bring this service to life, in addition to building a reliable on-the-ground infrastructure,” he added.
In June 2023 the service brought aid to a hiker with broken leg in Angeles National Forest. In December 2022, it saved a man stranded near the Arctic Circle. Those are just two examples in addition to the fortunate family on Maui, as the service rolls out to more users globally.