Siri ‘butt dial’ to 911 brings rescuers to trapped victim

From the Winter 2016 edition of Vanderbilt Medicine Magazine

Photo by Anne Rayner
Photo by Anne Rayner

A Vanderbilt patient who survived a car falling on him has brought a whole new meaning to the term “butt dialing” and believes that prayer, along with a little help from Siri, saved his life.

Sam Ray, 18, was never a fan of Siri, the hands-free virtual assistant on Apple iPhones, until he found himself pinned under his truck with Siri as his only way to call for help.

On July 2, 2015, the recent high school graduate was working under his truck, which was lifted up on a jack in the driveway of his family’s home. Needing a little advice, he called his father, who encouraged him to stop what he was doing until they could look at the truck together. Sam put his phone in his back pocket and proceeded to slide out from under the truck when the jack gave way, causing the nearly 5,000-pound vehicle to fall on him.

“I just kept praying out loud, ‘Lord, get me out of this,’” Sam said. “I kept reciting Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”

He yelled for help, but no one could hear him. Helpless and alone, he suddenly heard the familiar sound of Siri activating in his back pocket and realized that this iPhone feature could possibly allow him to call for help.

His arms were trapped, making it impossible to access his phone, but he was able to push up on his hip to activate Siri in his pocket and request that his phone call 911. After several attempts, he heard a voice on the line and realized he had gotten through.

EMS responded to Sam’s call and were able to move him out from under the vehicle and then he was flown to Vanderbilt.

“A tool like Siri is a modern-day rescue item that we didn’t have in the past, and potentially saved him from more serious or long-term complications from his crush injury,” said Richard Miller, M.D., chief, Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care.