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Using Siri Saved My Dad’s Life

apple iphone using siri

Written by Chris Mayhew

January 18, 2021

After over a decade of providing support for Apple, you hear stories about how Apple technology saved someone’s life or helped them at a time of desperation. I never thought that someone in my own family would have a similar account. This is a story about my dad and how using Siri saved his life.

For the past five years, my dad has been fighting renal cancer. He has undergone surgery to have a kidney and renal gland removed, in addition to various types of chemotherapy. About 18 months ago, it metastasized into his lungs in the form of a new tumor.

Around Christmastime 2020, my dad thought he had a minor stroke. He was falling, unable to walk without assistance, and having trouble speaking and spelling words. Things we usually take for granted. Upon completing a CT scan, it revealed cancer had now metastasized to his brain, and a tumor had developed. On Monday, January 4th, I learned of the new brain tumor.

On Tuesday, January 5th, early in the day, he had already felt his legs not working correctly. When he was getting out of the shower, he fell and hit the toilet. His phone was close by, and using Siri, he called his step-daughter and son-in-law, who came over to help.

A little later the same day, he was moving around in his bedroom and fell again. This time worse. Using his Apple Watch, he called his neighbor. Laying on the floor, waiting for the neighbor to come to the house for help, he attempted to get to the front door to unlock it. In the process, he fell against a table by the door and broke it. Using the broken table’s leg, he could reach the lock, unlock the door, and allow his neighbor into the house.

If anyone knows my dad, he is extremely stubborn and didn’t want to go to the hospital at that time. He gave the neighbors a set of keys to the house if they needed to come back, which would happen sooner than later.

Then the third fall happened. That’s when things changed. He couldn’t get up, was bleeding, and couldn’t use the right side of his body. At some point earlier, he had taken off his Apple Watch. Fall Detection could have called 911 for him and sent emergency services, but that was not an option for help this time.

As he lay there, trying to figure out how to get help, he had a lucid moment. He realized he could use Siri. ‘Hey Siri, call Rachel.’ In another room closeby, Siri was able to make the call, and he was able to get through to his neighbors. They rushed over, got him in the car, and immediately drove him to an emergency room. Knowing how to use Siri at that moment saved my dad’s life.

The next day, the crazy day of the insurrection at the Capital building in Washington, D.C., my dad was airlifted to Kaiser Vacaville from Santa Clara because there were no beds available due to COVID-19. The tumor size had doubled in approximately 6 hours and was now causing the brain to bleed, initiating a major stroke.

Upon arrival in Vacaville, the neurosurgeon needed to decide whether they could remove the tumor and stop the bleeding. If the condition had progressed too far, they were going to let my dad pass away. The doctor decided the surgery could move forward, and a week later, I was finally able to visit my dad. My dad and I talked and relived his experience. That’s when I discovered how using Siri saved his life.

If you have loved ones you are concerned about, take the time to educate them and yourself on the excellent tools available that may help in an emergency. It could be simple tools that support Accessibility or some of the other built-in features that support Apple Health. These features may include but are not limited to using Siri, fall detection on Apple Watch, Medical ID, COVID-19 exposure notifications, and more.

I never thought I would have one of these stories to share. Using Siri saved the life of someone I love. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for Apple’s devotion to its core values and making our lives better through technology. After a twelve-year career with Apple and as an Apple Consultant, I believe in the work Apple is trying to achieve.

Take the time to learn the helpful features of the device in your pocket. It’s better to know how to use these features and never need them rather than need them and not know-how. Knowing how to use things as simple as Siri could save a life.

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