Apple Watch Fall Detection Sends Paramedics in Just Minutes After Cyclist Gets Hit By Car

Paramedics Credit: Wellphoto / Shutterstock
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There’s a good chance that Fall Detection is currently disabled on your Apple Watch. But one San Francisco man’s story illustrates why you should go ahead and change that.

William Bout, a designer based in the Bay Area, posted a tweet this morning stating that he was hit by a car on his bike commute to work this morning. While he was unconscious after the accident, his Apple Watch apparently dialed 911 automatically.

“I don’t have a lot of memories from the event but Apple Watch automatically called 911…” Bout wrote. “And paramedics were (there) within minutes.”

In subsequent tweets, Bout added that he has left and hospital and is taking the next few days to rest. While he notes that he is doing okay, he did say that his bicycle and helmet were damaged during the crash.

The Apple Watch doesn’t actually have a bicycle or car crash detection mode, but they do have Fall Detection, which can automatically initiate an Emergency SOS call if the user experiences a hard fall. (A cellular-equipped model or having your iPhone nearby is required, however.)

If a user doesn’t respond within one minute, the Watch will automatically contact emergency services and a user’s emergency contacts with a message and the person’s current location.

Fall Detection is enabled by default for users who are aged 65 or older. But anyone can (and probably should) enable the feature on their own Apple Watch Series 4 or Series 5.

Again, the feature isn’t designed for bike or car crashes. But this is actually the second time that we’ve seen the feature help out after a sudden impact. Last year, Fall Detection helped guide authorities to an 87-year-old woman who had been in a car crash.

(The Emergency SOS feature has also helped other car crash victims contact emergency services.)

The feature isn’t quite perfect, and could flag certain high-impact activities as potential falls. But your Watch won’t automatically dial 911 if you dismiss the notification after a hard fall. If you own an Apple Watch Series 5, then your wearable can even contact local emergency services while you’re traveling abroad.

Because of that, we recommend most users go ahead and enable Fall Detection, particularly if they commute to work via bike.

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