A trail runner suffered a collapsed lung after a fall – and his Apple Watch saved him

Trail runner falling down in woodland
(Image credit: Getty)

A Norwegian trail runner says his Apple Watch's incident detection saved his life after he was badly injured in a fall. Robert Naess, aged 59, had decided to head out for a run early one morning while enjoying some time off work. The route was familiar, but he decided to set out at a faster pace than usual and slipped on a band and landed chest-first on the edge of a wall.

As Norwegian news site Verdens Gang reports, Naess was badly injured in the fall, suffering several broken ribs and a punctured lung. In pain and struggling to breathe, he found it impossible to pull out his phone and call for help.

His watch had fall detection, which can call for help if the accelerometer detects that the wearer has gone down hard, but rather than waiting for it to activate he managed to use its emergency SOS function to contact emergency services.

Fifteen minutes later, Naess was treated at the roadside and taken to hospital, where he is currently recuperating. He credits the watch with saving his life; over 100 cars passed by while he waited for an ambulance, but no drivers spotted him and stopped.

How to set up fall detection

Although Naess didn't end up using his watch's fall detection, it mcould make all the difference if you're hiking, running, or cycling alone. 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 (kids and teens are clumsy, after all).

Incident detection on a Garmin watch or Garmin Edge cycle computer works the same way, though 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.

Unless you have a Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE, your watch will need to be connected to your phone via Bluetooth for incident detection to work.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.