Apple Watch alerts paramedics after Victorian man hit by kangaroo

An Aussie grandfather who was hit by a kangaroo while bike riding in Victoria said he feels incredibly “lucky” after his birthday gift alerted emergency services.

Bruce Mildenhall, 70, was enjoying a mid-day ride at Mount Macedon, 64 km northwest of Melbourne, in April 2021 when a kangaroo emerged from the bush out of nowhere and slammed into his bike, knocking him unconscious.

“Once a month, I would ride to the top of Mount Macedon to make sure I wasn’t losing my fitness. I remember as I came down the hill, I saw my watch and it said it was midday,” Mr Mildenhall told news.com.au.

Then came a flash of fur in front of him.

“The next time I looked at my watch it said 12.20pm and I was in the back of an ambulance.”

It was his Apple Watch – a birthday gift he had received from his wife a month earlier – that helped get him there.

The kangaroo had rammed into the left side of his bike, hurling him over his handlebars and into the middle of the road.

Detecting the fall, the watch notified emergency services, along with his wife, who was listed as an emergency contact in his phone.

“I woke up in the ambulance … and I thought hang on what am I doing here?”

“Then I felt this massive neck brace that (paramedics) had put on and that’s when I thought oh god this is pretty serious.”

The next thing he heard was his wife banging on the ambulance door to find out if he was OK.

“She had been notified by the SMS so she came over to find out whether I was alive or dead.”

Paramedics informed his wife he would be OK before telling Mr Mildenhall his watch had alerted them to his fall.

“I thought, Oh, I didn’t know they could do that,” he recalled.

If an Apple Watch detects a hard fall, it can connect its owner to emergency services. If it detects movement, it will wait for you to respond to the alert. However, if the watch detects that you’ve been immobile for about a minute, it will make the call automatically.

Mr Mildenhall had suffered broken ribs, a head injury, crushed vertebrae and a dislocated shoulder as a result of the incident.

“I was pretty lucky I had my helmet on because the side of the helmet was crunched in, and there was a bit of blood on the outside of the helmet. So I hit the road pretty hard.”

Mr Mildenhall said his wife, three children and four grandchildren were glad she bought him the watch.

“They were very happy.”

Fellow Victorian Lexie Northcott’s Apple Watch also came in handy when her 16th birthday present helped alert her to her low heart rate in 2019.

Ms Northcott originally dismissed the notifications assuming her low heart rate was due to her age and good fitness.

However, when her mother raised the issue with a doctor, they suggested Miss Northcott take an electrocardiogram (ECG).

A week later, doctors notified her that she was at extreme risk of heart failure and was told he needed to rush to Melbourne to receive heart surgery.

Four years on from the surgery, Ms Northcott said her health is now better than ever.

Similarly, Mr Mildenhall has made a full recovery from his injuries and his back on his bike.

“I was really determined to (get back on the bike). You don’t want these things to permanently affect your life.”

Three years on from the incident, the 70-year-old still wears his watch and keeps his eyes and ears peeled for any rustling in the bush as he’s riding.

“It’s fair to say that since the accident, I’m a bit more wary. But now if something does happen, I’m much more relaxed about getting help.”

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