While some may argue that social networking tools, like Twitter and Facebook, are a waste of time, and others consider them to be innocent fun, there are a few people who would say these innovations are so much more. For example, one woman saved her friend from home invaders after seeing a plea for help on Facebook, while another was rescued by emergency personnel after tweeting for help when she was injured and lost in the woods. Learn about seven real-life cases where a tweet, status update or an application was a lifesaver.
Twitter: Lost snowboarders in the Swiss Alps
In March 2009, 29-year-olds Rob Williams and Jason Tavaria went on a ski trip in the Swiss Alps and became separated from their group during a snowstorm. A member of their team used Twitter to get phone numbers for the missing snowboarders. Tavaria was contacted on his mobile phone and used his Google Maps application to send rescuers the longitude and latitude of his location. Unfortunately, Williams had fallen down a 66-foot cliff and did not survive.
Twitter: Biker crashed and lost in the woods
While competing in a July 2010 mini-triathlon, 36-year-old Leigh Fazzina was separated from the pack when her front bike wheel hit tree roots and she flew over the handlebars. Lost, injured and unable to walk, she tried calling for help on her phone but didn’t have a strong enough signal to dial out. The athlete then tweeted: “I’ve had a serious injury and NEED Help! Can someone please call Winding Trails in Farmington, CT tell them I’m stuck bike crash in woods.” According to rescuers, at least six people called them, and within minutes ambulances were dispatched to help her.
Facebook: Suicidal teenager
In the spring of 2009, a 16-year-old in Britain logged on to Facebook late one night and sent a private message that he was going to harm himself to a friend in the United States. Even though she was 3,400 miles away, the girl told her mother, who called local police. The British Embassy was contacted, authorities narrowed the search to eight addresses in Oxfordshire and rescuers eventually found the troubled teen. Though he had overdosed on drugs, the young man was still conscious and made a full recovery after treatment in the hospital.
Facebook: Rare donor found for Leukemia patient
Twenty-two-month-old Iona Stratton had been fighting infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia since soon after her birth, but because of her half-Chinese, half-English background, her family couldn’t find a bone marrow donor to match her rare type. In October 2008, after her parents made an appeal on Facebook, more than 5,500 people around the world signed up and, eventually, a match was found in Australia. Tragically, two weeks after the operation, the toddler died due to complications.
Have you heard any stories of social media helping save lives or defuse situations? What are some ways that social media be used that is “outside the box?”