"I couldn’t move, I couldn’t get up" – hiker says Apple Watch saved his life on the trail

Apple Watch Ultra
The hiker suffered serious injuries and was unable to reach his phone when his dogs got spooked by a coyote (Image credit: Future)

A Georgia hiker has said a feature on his Apple Watch likely saved his life when he suffered a bad fall on the trail.

Mike Menand was hiking in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area north of Atlanta with his two dogs earlier this year when the pups "got spooked" by what he thinks was a coyote. The dogs knocked him down and dragged him off the trail where he suffered serious injuries. In a new interview, he tells Fox 5 Atlanta that he was unable to reach his phone because it was in a pocket that he was lying on.

"There’s no telling how long I would’ve been laying there," he says, adding, "I realized I couldn’t move, I couldn’t get up. I was in a lot of pain."

Luckily for Menard, his Apple Watch had the fall detection feature turned on, which can call for help if the accelerometer detects that the wearer has fall with impact. 

Some of the terrain in the area is known to be extremely treacherous, and only a few weeks after Menard's accident, a 46-year-old woman fell to her death while walking her dogs on an unofficial trail, something he acknowledges could have happened to him without the technology on his wrist.

"I thought that could’ve been me. Because I was by myself, no one around me, no one really knew where I was."

This is the second time this year we've reported on fall detection saving a trail user's life. In July, a Norwegian trail runner was badly injured in a fall, suffering several broken ribs and a punctured lung which meant he was unable to use his phone, but was able to summon help using his watch.

A hiker who has hurt their ankle sits down

Luckily for Menard, his Apple Watch had the fall detection feature turned on, which meant that he was able to dial 911 and get help (Image credit: Pheelings Media)

How to set up fall detection

To set up fall detection on an Apple Watch, open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap 'My Watch'. Tap 'Emergency SOS' and toggle the option on. If your age is set to 55 or over in your profile, it will be turned on by default. It's not available if you're 18 or under.

Incident detection on a Garmin watch works the same way, but rather than calling emergency services, it sends a text message to a contact defined in the Garmin Connect app, including your GPS location. To set it up, open the app and select 'Safety and Tracking' from the main menu and enter the contact details for the person you want to receive the SOS. You will then be asked to send them a confirmation message, which they will need to accept.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.