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Two tourists stranded on a riverbank in New Zealand's Arthur's Pass National Park on Wednesday used the satellite SOS feature on For the first time in the country, 14 people called for help using their iPhone.
As a result of heavy rain runoff in the area, water levels near Sudden Valley Creek in Arthur's Pass have begun to rise to dangerous levels, according to media reports. Travelers were unable to avoid or overcome the danger and called emergency services using the iPhone 14's Emergency SOS satellite feature.
This feature connects iPhone to a network of satellites operated by GlobalStar, allowing users to locate satellites and then send a series pre-formatted messages and their exact location. The information is passed on to ground crews for verification, who then dispatch emergency services.
Satellite Emergency Assistance launched in November 2022 in the US and Canada after Apple announced the feature at the launch of the iPhone 14. Apple activated the feature in Australia and New Zealand in May after introducing the feature . in several European Union countries following its launch in the US and Canada.
New Zealand air ambulance operator GCH Aviation and Canterbury West Air Rescue Services coordinated the rescue efforts. Canterbury confirmed its participation in the rescue operation via its Instagram account.
“Did you know that iPhone 14 has an SOS feature that allows you to connect via satellite and alert authorities if you get lost or injured in a remote area?
“Yesterday we were able to respond to some tourists who were stranded in the river because they had this technology with them,” the company said.
Due to the relative newness of Apple's service, the air rescue company advised its customers to rely on Personal instead. Locator Beacons (PLBs), special devices that use Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite coordinates.