Leigh Fazzina was lost in a 300-acre Connecticut wood, racing downhill on her mountain bike looking for the main road, when her front wheel hit a tree root. She flew over the handlebars and slammed into the ground, to find herself bloodied and unable to walk…and panicking. She tried screaming and calling for help on her cellphone but couldn’t connect. Then she tried Twitter, the social networking site, hoping that one of her 1000 followers might see her tweet:
“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.”
At least half a dozen people, many of them strangers, responded; the Farmington Fire Department got calls from California, Chicago and New York. A few minutes after sending her tweet, an EMS team found her.
Twitter, so often maligned for being a frivolous time-waster, proved to be an unexpectedly useful emergency tool; tweets, and text messages, will often go through in areas with spotty cell phone coverage, like state parks. Fazzina seems to have broken new ground in her improvised solution; there are no records of Twitter being used to call an ambulance before.
It reminds us though of other potent ways Twitter has been used by people in dire straits to connect, like the heart-rending tweets that came out of Iran during its recent revolution, when text messaging and phone service was cut off by the government…
PS: The amateur mini-triathlon cyclist thankfully had no serious injuries, just bad scrapes and bruises. She is grateful she didn’t have to spend the night in the woods.
Related post: An Amazing Amount of Improvising Going on in Iran