Imagine this: you are a novice biker, participating in a triathlon hundreds of miles away from home when you get lost from the race pack and go flying over your handlebars, badly injuring yourself in a heavily wooded area with spotty cell phone reception. How do you proceed?
Most people would panic, scream and cry and try unsuccessfully to call family and friends who may not even be in close enough proximity to help. Panic attacks would ensue, and who knows how long someone would have to lay there praying for help.
Not Leigh Fazzina. After taking a nasty spill in a 300 acre Connecticut wood while racing downhill trying to relocate the main race route, Fazzina found herself pretty banged up and unable to walk. She screamed for help but she was too far off the path for the other bikers to hear her. Luckily she had her phone, but unluckily she could not get service to connect her calls. In a desperate attempt to contact someone, she tried to reach out to her 1,000 Twitter followers.
“I’ve had a serious injury and NEED Help!” she tweeted. “Can someone please call Winding Trails in Farmington, CT tell them I’m stuck bike crash in woods.” Her Twitter followers, mainly people she had never even met in real life, jumped at the opportunity to help her. Half a dozen phone calls to police later from places as far away as New York, Chicago and Claifornia, help was on the way. Within minutes of sending out the tweet Fazzina heard the ambulances coming to rescue her.
David Reti of CTIA- The Wireless Association said that in areas with incomplete coverage, users will often send text messages, instant messages or 140-character tweets instead of making calls because they will “have enough fringe coverage” to get a small message through. Twitter officials told USA Today that they have never heard of anyone using the service to call for an ambulance before, although crime victims have texted for help and families have used the site to reconnect after major disasters.
This touching story not only shows us the power of social media to connect people, but it reminds us that a complete stranger halfway across the globe might just pick up the phone to help you if you were in need. Users should be aware of the power of this tool and should be ready to use Twitter as an emergency contact solution.