When she wrecked her mountain bike deep in the woods, Leigh Fazzina was too far from any real humans to scream for help—and too far from a cell phone tower to call 911. But she did have enough of a cell signal to tweet her emergency. Within minutes, the ambulance arrived. Go, Internet, go! (Via Naseem Miller)


    1. You’re right. In the U.S., any powered mobile phone that’s in range of a cell tower can make a 911 call, regardless of what network it’s on, or if it’s on a network at all.

      But does texting get through on a worse/weaker signal?

  1. Well, according to the story, she could have also just texted someone. It’s more like “text-based communication has saved a life!” rather than Twitter, per se.

    This IS coming from someone who has a crud non-smart phone, so maybe I’m just trying not to worry how my frugality is dooming me to a lonely death in the woods.

    1. #4,

      Maybe a data service can retry while the owner of the phone moves around, then silently send the message.

  2. I’m calling BS…If you have enough cell signal to tweet or txt then you have enough signal to make a call.

    1. I’m calling bullshit on your statement. There are plenty of situations where text messages will get through where phone calls won’t connect at all. Try making a call whilst at a camping music festival with poor coverage. You’ll virtually never get through whilst texts will sit in your phone trying over and over again to connect and when they do they only need a small amount of signal strength for a few seconds before they send. They also have the advantage of sitting on a server somewhere until whoever you’ve texted comes into a small amount of signal. Whereas a call requires both ends of the connection to be in range, with more signal strength for a longer period of time. Not applicable in the case of calling 911, but certainly it proves your statement incorrect.

      If she was just on the edge of one cell towers reception (i.e. no other carrier to switch to) then it wouldn’t matter if 911 will roam automatically or not. A text message to an individual might not be read for a long while. 1 text message to 1,000 followers is a much safer bet.

  3. Great that this story ended happily. However, you’ll have to color me skeptical on the circumstances. She had no signal to put in a 911 call which works across any provider but she was able to establish a network connection, log on to her Twitter account and send off a tweet?

    I would believe this more readily if she had been saved by a text message. It’s been well established that in times of poor cell reception or saturated cell towers, an SMS message can get through.

    Wonder if it’s a case of mistaken technical identity?

    1. You don’t have to login to Twitter to update. You can text message from your phone to 40404 I think it is and text messaging will oftentimes sit there and try to find a moment when there is just enough signal to send the message, so yeah, it’s feasible this happened.

  4. Twitter would be better since you have more than one person your sending it to (unlike a txt).

    A county in Iowa started taking texts last year, it takes longer, but if your low on power, or deaf/mute, this is a good alternative.

  5. She should have tried dialing 0118 999 881 999 119 725 3. It’s easy to remember and I always get through!

  6. She might’ve tweeted via SMS, of course, which would make sense, if you think about it – there’s a chance the person she texted might not read the message for a few hours, whereas, as Blackbird pointed out, she obviously knew she had Twitter followers who were likely to see her message.

    Likewise, with SMS, most phones will just keep trying and trying until they manage to get a message through, when there’s low signal.

  7. The circumstances are quite reasonable in my experience:

    – In my house and at the office I often have trouble making a cell call, while texting works just fine.

    – Before I got a smart phone I tweeted via texting, after having set up my plain ol’ cell phone as a mobile device on my Twitter account.

  8. what I call BS on, is that she was supposedly far into the woods, yet an ambulance arrived in minutes?

    1. Yeah, the article says a “300 acre wood,” which is less than half a square mile. Not deep in the woods. But I guess all that matters is she was too far away to yell for help while injured.

    2. It doesn’t say the ambulance arrived in minutes, that she HEARD it minutes later. She didn’t know where she was in the woods, it’s very possible that she was only 100 yards from a road. Being lost does not always equate with being ‘far’ away from civilization.

  9. Is it possible to SMS 911 in the US?
    In Israel SMS messages are converted to synthesized voice if you send to a landline number so I suppose it might work here.

    1. I was just going to say – you really should be able to send SMS messages to 911, for just this sort of situation.

  10. It’s been done. During the Mumbai terrorist attacks, a teenager hiding in a closet in one of the hotel rooms txted the locations of the terrorists to the police.

  11. Just think, we will soon be hearing from all the wireless companies how you should sign up for unlimited texting because it could save your life!

    And it’s much cheaper than the wireless companies rolling out E911 and AGPS and all that!

  12. sadly, most of my twitter followers are spammers and ebusiness marketers, so the only response I’d get would be an invitation to a seminar on how my website could make me a million dollars.

  13. I was surprised to see that, despite having zero bars on a digital (T-Mobile) network in Northern CA just North of Cloverdale a few years back, the phone switched to analog mode (not otherwise supported in normal phone operation) for a 911 call and it made it through. Presumably there are other fallback modes available now that analog cell service has been discontinued; I do know that free digital roaming via subcontracted carriers appears to cover many rural areas not covered by the primary network operator.

  14. I’m guessing that as she only tried calling a friend, rather than 911 that her friend was the one who didn’t have a signal.

  15. You should dial 911 even if you don’t think you have a signal. Your phone will “roam” onto any compatible network (with a high priority bit set). So even if your T-Mobile phone has no service, you can call for help over AT&T’s network.

  16. Yeah this is BS. As many have already pointed out, even when there is no standard network reception (which she clearly had if she tweeted) you can often still make emergency calls.

    The emergency number “112” is used in various countries as the mobile phone emergency number:

    It won’t get you through when you are out of mobile service range, but what it does do is use any available network (not just the one who is your service provider) to connect the call. It also overrides network priorities, so if the mobile network is busy (think straight after NYE countdown) your call will still get through.

    This is a real twittermergency:

  17. A coherent voice call requires sustained periods of connection and higher power usage, a data transmission is much shorter, requiring less power usage and a shorter sustained connection. We don’t Know that she wouldn’t be able to get through to 911 due to special features, but neither did she. A tech-savvy person might suspect such a feature, but your average user may not.

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