Man tests SOS function on phone - and sparks French helicopter rescue

Five rescuers including a doctor and a helicopter pilot were dispatched to the site

The man did not realise that testing the SOS function would trigger a rescue mission
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A man who was testing the SOS function on his phone accidentally sparked a mountain rescue helicopter operation in Savoie, eastern France.

The man in his mid-30s, who was in the mountains in Savoie at the time, was testing his iPhone’s SOS rescue function. 

This feature enables the user to send a message to the emergency services and share their location, even if the phone does not have a signal. Depending on the phone and the feature used, it also enables texting with emergency services, and can send automated messages in the event that you are incapacitated.

While testing the feature, the man mentioned “aggravated thoracic pain”, and he was geolocated in an area near the Balme refuge, in Beaufortain, near the Italian border.

Five rescuers, including a doctor and a helicopter pilot, were called, and set off in a Choucas 73 (Section Aérienne de la Gendarmerie de Modane) helicopter in a bid to help the supposed victim.

But when they arrived at the location, no-one was there. After some searching, the team returned to base to regroup and make a new plan. 

It was only when they managed to call the ‘victim’ that they realised it had been a false alert.

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“The person explained that he wanted to test the emergency SOS function,” said a first-aider from the CRS Alpes in Modane, who took part in the rescue mission, to France 3. “He didn't think it would trigger an intervention.”