‘I Could Have Died': Glenview Doctor Says Apple Watch Led to His Rescue

He says the watch called police on its own.

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Dr. Thomas Ficho points to a window well outside his Glenview home. "I could have died down there," he said, "but my watch called 911."

Ficho was wearing his fifth-generation Apple Watch while he was power washing the bricks on the north side of his house when he said he tried to use the cover on the window well as a steppingstone to reach higher. That’s when he said the cover moved and he plunged five feet into the basement egress well.

"I was laying on the bottom of this, kind of curled up," he said. "My right side hurt a lot."

After three to five minutes, Ficho said he was able to climb out of the well himself. When he did, there was a Glenview police officer standing on his lawn. The officer asked him if he was OK or needed a paramedic. Ficho said "no" but asked the officer how he knew the internist needed help. The officer pointed to Ficho's watch.

Apple says its watches use built-in gyroscopes to measure motion. If they detect a fall, they will ask the user if they are OK and if they should call 911. If the user doesn’t respond, they will place the call without the user’s input, either by a built-in cell phone or through the iPhone with which the watch is linked. It will also send the watch's GPS location.

"I was really surprised," Ficho said. "I didn’t put it together immediately that my watch was going to do that."

The doctor, who works in a PC-based office, called the watch "an amazing tool."

He recalled a patient who stepped out of the shower, fell in her bathroom, broke her hip and could not get up. Her body was found three days later.

"All she needed was a watch," Ficho said, wishing the technology had existed at the time.

Dr. Ficho had already been using Apple watches with his patients to monitor their heart rhythms and, during COVID, the oxygen in their blood. He said the majority of his patients are over 60 and he has told every one of them that they have to have watches like his.

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