This Family’s Lives Were Saved by Their 9-Year-Old Daughter’s Quick-Thinking iPhone Skills

Jayline Barbosa Brandao 9 year old saves familys lives Credit: Scott McDonnell / Twitter
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We’ve heard numerous stories over the years of how the iPhone and Apple Watch have saved people’s lives in a whole multitude of different ways, and this week there’s another story in the news about how another man was able to get necessary medical help thanks to the iPhone skills of his quick-thinking nine-year-old daughter.

A new report from CNN shares how a young girl in Brockton, Massachusetts, helped to save her family after they became victims of carbon monoxide poisoning from a borrowed generator.

According to the story, which was first reported by CNN affiliate WFXT, the girl, Jayline, responded to shouts from her dad, only to find that her mom had already lost consciousness, and her father appeared to be on the verge of doing so as well.

I heard my dad screaming and saw my mom passed out.

Jayline Barbosa Brandão

Unsure of what was happening, Jayline grabbed his iPhone to call 911. Although the iPhone was locked, she had the presence of mind to hold it up to her father’s face to unlock it using Face ID so that she could place the emergency call.

After placing the 911 call, Jayline took her younger sister outside to get help from a neighbour. The Brockton Fire Department responded within minutes, taking five people from the Brandão house to the hospital for treatment.

A Cautionary Tale

As Jayline’s mom, Marcelina Brandão, explained to CNN, the carbon monoxide in their home occurred as a result of a major storm that had left them without power for three days, requiring them to borrow a generator.

The mom explained that they had set the generator up near the back door, outside their home, and only ran it for a few minutes before they realized it was making too much noise and had to shut it down. They unplugged everything from it and brought it into the house, but the few minutes that it was running was long enough to release dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

According to the National Weather Service, backup generators should be kept at least 20 feet away from doors, windows, and vents.

Marcelina Brandão said that she thought the generator had been located in a safe place, but now realizes that it was too close to their house. When rescuers arrived, they measured the amount of carbon monoxide in the home in excess of 1,000 parts per million (ppm) — five to six times higher than the levels at which the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says can lead to disorientation, unconsciousness, and death.

Brandão described having a headache and feeling dizzy before she lost consciousness, but said she thought it was just a migraine. She woke up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Fortunately, all the family members are doing better, including Jayline’s grandmother, who was also in the home at the time. Jayline and her younger sister didn’t appear affected by the carbon monoxide, likely because they left the home immediately after dialing 911 on their dad’s phone.

Using Someone Else’s iPhone in an Emergency

While it was very fortunate that Jayline knew how to unlock her father’s iPhone using Face ID and place the 911 call, it’s worth keeping in mind that this isn’t strictly necessary.

Should you find yourself in an emergency situation with somebody else’s iPhone on hand, you can still place an emergency call even if you don’t know the passcode or have any other way of unlocking it.

Emergency calls are always permitted from a locked iPhone. This important safety feature cannot be disabled.

  1. From a locked iPhone, swipe up or press the Home button (if so equipped) to bring up the passcode entry screen.
  2. Tap Emergency.
  3. Dial the appropriate Emergency Services number for your area. In the U.S., that’s 911, but it may be different in other countries.
  4. Tap the green call button to place the call.

When the iPhone is in this mode, the words “Emergency Call” will be shown at the top of the screen. This also shifts into other languages to ensure that the person holding your iPhone realizes that they can use it to make a call to Emergency Services.

Note that this will only allow calls to designated emergency numbers, such as 911. Attempting to dial any other number will show the message “Emergency Calls Only.”

Note, however, that If the iPhone owner has set up their Medical ID, you can access this from the emergency screen by tapping Medical ID in the bottom-left corner. If there are Emergency Contacts listed in the person’s Medical ID, you can also call any of these contacts from this screen simply by tapping on their numbers.

If the owner of the iPhone has enabled Emergency SOS, you can place a call to Emergency Services even more quickly:

  1. On an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or any newer iPhone without a Home button, press and hold the side button and volume buttons for a few seconds until the Slide to power off screen appears.
  2. On iPhone 7 or earlier models, rapidly press the side or top button five times (note: this is expected to change in iOS 15.2).
  3. Swipe left to right on the Emergency SOS slider.
  4. Alternatively, you can keep holding the side and volume buttons until the call to emergency services is placed.

One advantage of the Emergency SOS feature is that it will also automatically notify the owner’s designated emergency contacts by sending out a text message with the current location. The downside, however, is that the Emergency SOS feature can be disabled, so it may not always work. Even if the owner of the iPhone has turned off Emergency SOS, however, the Emergency Call feature — that is, the ability to dial 911 from a locked iPhone — will still work as this cannot be disabled.

Just keep in mind that the iPhone must have at least some cellular service to be able to place an emergency call, as it can’t overcome the laws of physics. However, in the U.S., at least, the iPhone doesn’t have to have service from its own carrier — a signal from any carrier will do — so it’s always worth trying to place a 911 call even if the iPhone shows “No Service” in the status bar. This applies to cellular Apple Watch models too.

Once you’ve placed an emergency call, features that block incoming calls will also be disabled for a short time to make sure that you can receive a callback from emergency services if necessary. This includes such features as Do Not Disturb, Focus Modes, Silence Unknown Callers, and Screen Time.

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