Apple Watch Series 4 fall detection summons emergency services, saves elderly man

Posted:
in Apple Watch
A Norwegian man survived a midnight fall to the floor of his bathroom and skull fractures because the fall detection feature on his Apple Watch Series 4 summoned help.

Toralv Ostvang


The man, 67-year-old Toralv Ostvang, fractured his face in three places, according to Norway's NRK. While some details of the incident are unknown, he may have fainted, and was discovered still "bloody and unconscious" when emergency crews responded to the Watch's alert beacon. The man was ultimately diagnosed with several skull fractures, and likely would not have survived the night had emergency services not been called.

Ostvang's daughter Kirsti noted that he hadn't brought his phone into the bathroom, or previously thought of using any other form of fall alert.

The motion sensors on the Series 4 allow it to detect a sudden fall and check if a person is still moving. If they don't respond to their Watch and are immobile for a full minute, watchOS will automatically ping emergency contacts with location data.

It's not clear how many other people may have been rescued by the technology beyond an incident in Sweden last October. One problem is that fall detection is off by default for people under the age of 65, since intense physical activity can trigger false alarms.

Senior health has become a marketing point for the Apple Watch. Most models can detect atrial fibrillation, and the Series 4 goes a step further in that regard with a built-in ECG lead.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,453member
    That’s why my octogenarian mom now has one. Glad to know it works as advertised.

    I wonder if emergency services arrived before family members, and if so, whether they broke into the house to respond? I’ve often wondered what would happen in such a situation where the Apple Watch is doing the calling, not an actual person.
    danielchowhodarGeorgeBMacwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 29
    My Apple Watch has asked me on two occasions whether I’d fallen. I hadn’t, but in both instances my left arm was flailing about in an unorthodox way. On one occasion, I had lost my balance after tripping on an unseen obstacle, and luckily managed to stop the fall from occurring. But the Watch did correctly diagnose what was taking place.
    hodarGeorgeBMaclolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 29
    mac_128 said:
    That’s why my octogenarian mom now has one. Glad to know it works as advertised.

    I wonder if emergency services arrived before family members, and if so, whether they broke into the house to respond? I’ve often wondered what would happen in such a situation where the Apple Watch is doing the calling, not an actual person.
    Anyone with an Apple Watch and iPhone can be called before dispatching emergency services.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 29
    67 years old is elderly? Screw you, AppleInsider.
    king editor the gratedanielchowkrawallgutengelhodarlarryjwfranklinjackconcrabbysteveau
  • Reply 5 of 29
    67 years old is elderly? Screw you, AppleInsider.
    Thank you! Shish, “elderly” 🙄
    lordjohnwhorfingutengellarryjw
  • Reply 6 of 29
    67 years old is elderly? Screw you, AppleInsider.
    Heh. It's all relative. When I got married (26.5 years ago), my Ps announced they were going to drive hundreds of miles to visit us. I wondered if it was safe for people that old to drive that far. I now realize they were 53 ...
    edited February 4 lordjohnwhorfinjbdragonhodarGeorgeBMaclarryjwstompylolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 29
    Okay, okay, I said that with love though :-)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 29
    mac_128 said:
    That’s why my octogenarian mom now has one. Glad to know it works as advertised.

    I wonder if emergency services arrived before family members, and if so, whether they broke into the house to respond? I’ve often wondered what would happen in such a situation where the Apple Watch is doing the calling, not an actual person.
    If you're planning for such things, there's a thing called a "knox box," which is a key safe that's mounted outside, and first responders have the master key to get into the knox box. There are anti-tampering alarm options to assure they're not used for surreptitious access. They're common for commercial buildings, but can also be used at residences. They're probably not a bad idea where vulnerable residents live inside, or even for residences where the occupants are often away. So you could strap an Apple Watch on grandma and mount a knox box outside, and you've got an emergency safety plan in place that doesn't involve smashing down the front door.
    hodarmac_128watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 29
    Don't know that is saved me in any way, but it woke me up about a week ago from deep sleep with pulse of around 45 bpm spiking to 155 bpm when it woke me. That was the 120 bmp 10 minutes threshold that triggered. 

    Of course it was over before anyone could come and take an EKG, and being in Europe, that is not active on the watch, so I could not obtain one myself. I hope that Apple will get it approved and activated here too soon. 
    hodarwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 29
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,790member
    Is it unusual to sleep with your watch on?
  • Reply 11 of 29
    pk22901pk22901 Posts: 139member
    Sleeping with watch on Sries 4, for the past 4 months. Not a problem. I run a sleep app on it that helps me be aware of sleep quality and sleep habits. (AutoSleep)
    hodarlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 29
    pk22901pk22901 Posts: 139member
    One news report said that the 1st responders arrived within minutes and found him unconscious on the floor.
    GeorgeBMaclolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 29
    Rayz2016 said:
    Is it unusual to sleep with your watch on?
    Not for Sleep Cycle users.

    When I wore it with the default Clock app, it was dangerously hard to decide which button was Snooze and which turned alarm off.
    edited February 4
  • Reply 14 of 29
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,129member
    67 years old is elderly? Screw you, AppleInsider.
    Given average life expectancy in a Norway is around 79 years for a male, 69 would be elderly, yes. Doesn’t mean people stop being active and simply live in a lazy boy, but 69 is not muddled aged or a spring chicken. 
    king editor the grateGeorgeBMaclolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 29
    hodarhodar Posts: 280member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Is it unusual to sleep with your watch on?
    Been doing this for months.  The Apple watch is usually around 60% when it's bedtime.  I take at least an hour to prep before I go to bed.  Bathroom, read a book and soak in the tub, my Rx, wind down ... By that time, my watch is 95-100% charged - and it's good for the night, my work day and evening again.  It' charges pretty fast.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 29
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,196member
    Where the fuck are all the LOL APPLE WATCH IS A USELESS TOY trolls? Right, back in their shitty little holes like the cowardly trolls they are. 
    doctwelvelolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 29
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,323member
    mac_128 said:
    That’s why my octogenarian mom now has one. Glad to know it works as advertised.

    I wonder if emergency services arrived before family members, and if so, whether they broke into the house to respond? I’ve often wondered what would happen in such a situation where the Apple Watch is doing the calling, not an actual person.
    Anyone with an Apple Watch and iPhone can be called before dispatching emergency services.
    Yes, true.   You can of course do that -- if you are conscious.   In this case, it sounds like the call was made automatically -- which then goes to both the emergency contact and to emergency services.
    mac_128watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 29
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,323member
    67 years old is elderly? Screw you, AppleInsider.
    It's really about physiologic age rather than chronologic.
    I know 67 year olds who can't even see their toes much less touch them.
    I know an 80 year old who can blow my doors off in a 10K race.

    At 68 I am in probably the best shape of my life.   But that's due to an hour+ a day hard exercise and a healthy diet.  But, had I not changed my lifestyle 6 years ago I would now likely be in bad shape.
    king editor the gratelolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 29
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,323member
    Just this morning I was out back and realized that the porch and steps I was on were a sheet of ice -- and there was nobody else around if I fell.  It's a good reason to have a Series 4 strapped on.

    As a nurse what I have seen is that the worst cases are not the ones where the person had to be rescued before they died (such as this case).  But rather the ones who lay on the floor for several days before being found.   They come in in truly horrible condition and often never fully recover.  Ugly!   Really Ugly!
    king editor the gratelarryjwlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 29
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 427member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Is it unusual to sleep with your watch on?
    I sleep with the watch on always -- for decades. Used to be a $25 Timex -- replaced by new AW Series 4. The only difference is I have take it off every morning to recharge. 

    My habits haven't changed, I now get more info off my watch -- heart rate, alarms, weather, notifications, sleep time, etc. 
    watto_cobra
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