A group of teenagers got lost in the countryside. They used the SOS app on the iPhone to get help.

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The iPhone’s new Emergency SOS feature apparently helped save ten California teen hikers who had to call for rescue after getting lost on a day hike outside of Ojai.

In a report, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said the hikers were missing near the Last Chance Trail in Santa Paula Canyon outside Ojai on Friday, May 12. Around 8 p.m., the sheriff’s office received a text message from the hikers through its phone’s SOS emergency system, informing officials that the hikers were unable to find their way back to the trailhead. Around the same time, the hikers’ guardians contacted Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies near the trailhead to report that the hikers were running behind schedule.

Around 8:30 p.m., a group of 13 volunteers from the department’s Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team set out on the trail to locate the hikers. According to the report, conditions were difficult, with the department saying searchers faced “low visibility, multiple creek crossings and trails that had previously been damaged by heavy rains.” Finally, around 11:15 p.m., rescuers located the missing teens.

creek crossing
Rescuers helped lost hikers cross stream crossings and damaged sections of trail. (Photo: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

“Most hikers were unprepared for the hike and were provided with food, drinking water, and lighting equipment as they were led to the Santa Paula Canyon trailhead,” the department wrote. The group arrived at the trailhead at 2:40 am None of the rescued hikers required medical attention.

Satellite emergency beacons have helped thousands of people call for help over the past 15 years, but some experts have raised concerns that the devices could encourage hikers to take shortcuts in their preparations, rather than assuming they will be able to call. help in an emergency.

“[Satellite beacons] they are a valuable tool, but they should not be used as a substitute for common sense,” Charley Shimanski, vice president of the Mountain Rescue Association, told the New York Times after the launch of the first SPOT device in 2007. It remains to be seen how the introduction of Apple Emergency SOS, which debuted on the iPhone 14 last year and allows users to send satellite text messages to emergency services via Apple . response center, will affect the volume of emergency calls handled by search and rescue teams. Apple says the SOS service is free for iPhone owners for two years after purchase, and a subscription will be needed to maintain the service after that.