Apple fall detection: Testimonial by cop

"I always knew about the Apple Watch feature but damn was it cool to see it in action."

From "Firsthand experience with Apple Watch Fall Detection" posted last week on Reddit:

So I work as a police officer and currently working the night shift and just finished up with a call that I wanted to share ‘cause it’s so cool.

I was sitting in my police vehicle writing up a previous file when my dispatcher goes over the air. I get dispatched to a call that we received from an Apple Watch due to its fall detection feature. History on the residence doesn’t come back with anything and all callbacks were negative.

I get to the residence and notice all the lights on. Someone is home. Knock on the door, no answer. Through the glass panes I notice pictures of a family but mostly of an elderly women so to me I kind of thought that’s who lived here. The door luckily was unlocked. I opened it, announced myself, and I just heard groaning. I ran upstairs and found the elderly lady laying on her back, half her face covered in blood. Right away I call Emergency Health Services for medical attention. She was telling me that throughout the day she had been feeling nauseous and when she got up to go to the kitchen, she fainted. Next thing she knew, she was waking up in blood. She wasn’t aware that the Apple Watch had called the police and I guess during her state she wasn’t in the right mind to understand how it called the police. All that to say, she is now being medically treated and will make a full recovery.

I always knew about the Apple Watch feature but damn was it cool to see it in action.

My take: I fall a lot. On skis, off bikes, on steep, slippery hills. Apple Watch always offers to call for help. Haven't needed it yet.


  1. Kathy Corby said:
    Jeff, make sure the feature is turned on. Apple wisely, if perhaps somewhat condescendingly, turns it on by default only if you are over a certain age, I believe 55 to 65. Like PED, I fall a lot, and Apple has unfailingly identified each fall. In fact, at least 10 of my recent five falls, but that’s another issue. Better it should over-call than miss them.

    April 16, 2022
    • Steven Philips said:
      Maybe it’s the WAY we fall? I’ve got a really good shoulder roll when I trip while running. It doesn’t seem to invoke the alert like it used to.

      April 16, 2022
  2. Timothy Smith said:
    Falling can be a sign of good health.

    April 16, 2022
  3. Jerry Doyle said:
    I’m very active physically and am cognizant fully of the dangers of falling. I am most fortunate in that I rarely have fallen as a senior even though I now am 75 years of age.

    On a 44 mile wilderness trip two years ago carrying an 82 lbs backpack across the Arrigetch Peaks’ mountain range in the Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserves even while traversing large boulders and spongy tundra, I never once felled. I like to think the reason is due to a series of balancing exercises I continue to do 5-6 days weekly in the gym.

    One exercise I recommend highly are “lunges.” Lunges are a powerful exercise for shaping and strengthening muscles in the lower extremities. What few professional trainers fail to denote is how lunges maximize our physical capacity for maintaining equilibrium, which is something that dissipates with age.

    Individuals up-in-age starting out doing lunges may feel tempted quickly to give up because it is so hard to retain your balance initially. I say to you, keep at it using no weights. After several weeks you will find that you can lunge quite a distance while maintaining your balance throughout the routine. At that point, start adding very light dumbbells to your sets, say 2 ½ lbs., then progress to 5 lbs. and so on. (There are men my age using 50 lbs. dumbbells while lunging). Lunges will strengthen your leg muscles and enhance your equilibrium ability, two very valuable attributes needed as you age.

    I often set-off my Apple fall detection while working out at the gym on the “speed ball.” I do not usually know that the detection has gone off until later when I am through with that routine and notice my Watch is asking if I felled. I used to get concerned that there would be a throng of medics and firemen rushing into the gym due to the fall detection notice, but that never has happened. Over the years the Watch seems to have learned the Speed Ball exercise movements I am doing and the fall detection notice does not go off as much on my Watch. My point is that my fall detection never has called emergency personnel on its own. It gives me notice that it has gone off and asks if I am ok. So, I am a little confused exactly how fall detection is employed to activate on its own, and when.

    April 16, 2022
  4. Timothy Smith said:
    My recent falls all would have happened at a young age. The only difference, I think, is I didn’’t even try to break the falls with my arms/hands. I was down before I could react.

    April 16, 2022
  5. George Ewonus said:
    Yep, I’m a senior – one year younger than Jerry – at 74. I continue to ride and race mountain bikes and have done so for the last 42 years. Back in the ‘day’ (early to mid nineties) I managed to collect some world and national titles – when it was a lot easier to do than today. I still ride hard and launch off serious drops and then land – usually successfully. However that can trigger an Apple fall detection. So I set mine to ‘off’ – until some future time .

    April 16, 2022
  6. Michael Goldfeder said:
    It’s impressive to have a first responder with no skin in the game to actually validate the utility of this feature on an Apple Watch as part of his or her regular duties observed on a shift. Technology is always finding ways to better our lives and Apple has to be right at the top in creating products to make that happen.

    Along the lines of: “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around does it still make a noise?” If Vestager fell while wearing an Apple Watch would the automatic notification to call 911 be engaged?

    April 16, 2022
  7. Bart Yee said:
    Quick refresher for Apple Watch Fall Detection, from Apple Watch support page:

    Here’s how it works

    If Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 4 or later detects a hard fall while you’re wearing your watch, it taps you on the wrist, sounds an alarm, and displays an alert. You can choose to contact emergency services or dismiss the alert by pressing the Digital Crown, tapping Close in the upper-left corner, or tapping “I’m OK.”

    (Watch will display this Message:
    “It looks like you’ve taken a hard fall.”

    If your Apple Watch detects that you’re moving, it waits for you to respond to the alert and won’t automatically call emergency services. If your watch detects that you’ve been immobile for about a minute, it will make the call automatically.

    After the call ends, your watch sends a message to your emergency contacts with your location letting them know that your watch detected a hard fall and dialed emergency services. Your watch gets your emergency contacts from your Medical ID.

    What happens if your Apple Watch detects that you’re immobile
    If your Apple Watch detects that you’re immobile for about a minute, it begins a 30-second countdown, while tapping you on the wrist and sounding an alert. The alert gets louder, so that you or someone nearby can hear it. If you don’t want to call emergency services, tap Cancel. When the countdown ends, your Apple Watch automatically contacts emergency services.
    When the call connects, your Apple Watch plays an audio message that informs emergency services that your Apple Watch detected a hard fall and then it shares your current location as latitude and longitude coordinates. If you previously turned on the Share During Emergency Call setting under your Medical ID, your Medical ID is also automatically shared with emergency services. The first time the message plays, the audio is at full volume, but then the volume is reduced so that you, or someone nearby, can talk to the responder. The message continues to play until you tap Stop Recorded Message or the call ends.
    Wrist Detection must be turned on for your watch to automatically call emergency services: Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch, tap Passcode, then make sure that Wrist Detection is turned on.
    When are falls recorded
    Falls are automatically recorded in the Health app, unless you reply that you didn’t fall when your Apple Watch asks. To check your fall history, open the Health app on your iPhone, then tap the Browse tab. Tap Other Data, then tap Number of Times Fallen.

    April 17, 2022

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