My iPhone Commercial (or, The Night We Almost Died On A Mountain)

How to fix a dislocated shoulder on iPhone

It was cold. The air carried no scent, ice squeaked under our boots, and every little leaf and twig crinkled and snapped as we walked over it. But this was louder than that. Much louder. Neither Jon nor I saw it actually happen, but when I found Will he was mostly upside down between a boulder and tree. The trail at that point was elevated by some rocks and bordered by pines that grew from the forrest floor some distance below.

After a bit of struggle we removed Will’s 60 pound pack, got him upright, and back to the trail. He had no cuts, and his head didn’t show any signs of injury, but his left arm was about eight inches longer than his right, and he couldn’t move it. More significantly, he was now very much disabled on top of a mountain in November. The sun and temperatures were falling and all of us were at risk of hypothermia if we didn’t act quickly.

I had my iPhone, and it had a signal. I looked up “fix dislocated shoulder” and quickly read the WikiHow article that appeared on top. I passed it on to Jon for a second opinion, and he read it out loud for us all. Will choked on the line “this will not be a comfortable experience, but do not give in to the pain.” And I choked on it a few moments later when I performed the procedure as outlined and felt and heard the snapping like a popsicle stick bent too far. Thankfully, the line “when the shoulder pops back into its joint, relief will come immediately” was true.

We were prepared for a winter night, but not Will’s dislocated shoulder. The iPhone gave us access to the wealth of knowledge available on the web, and that helped us deal with Will’s injury on our own[1]. It was a cold night, and a painful one for Will, but we survived.

1: I often carry my iPhone on hikes, but what might we have done without it? If we had just a regular phone we might have called emergency services, who would have likely dispatched people to climb the mountain to rescue Will. Nobody should be hiking a steep, dark, icy trail. And if we didn’t have any phone? We would have worked from memory, which was informed more by Lethal Weapon than real medical facts. Who knows what harm we might have done to the guy?

8 thoughts on “My iPhone Commercial (or, The Night We Almost Died On A Mountain)

  1. Pingback: Atomic Lemur » How the iPhone Saved us on a Mountain in the Winter

  2. It was nice seeing you and Will the other day. I’m glad he didn’t die.
    But if he did, more people would’ve commented on this entry so …. take the
    good with the bad.

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  4. You used Yahoo for the search? The WikiHow page doesn’t show up for page one for that search term on Google.

    This is one reason why you want to collect people on Twitter, so that you can have a big enough human search engine to help you out in an emergency.

    Glad to hear you’re OK.

  5. @Edward Vielmetti:

    I use Yahoo! on my iPhone in a sad attempt lessen my dependency on Google. I may be re-revisiting twitter now, we’ll see how that works in my next near-death experience.

    I should admit that we all got lucky in a few ways. I trusted a single source of questionable authority. As it turns out, when Will finally got a doctor to look at his shoulder, the Doc asked how it got reset and responded with “oooh, that’s not how we do it here.” We’re all glad we didn’t make Will’s arm worse and appears to be healing okay.

  6. Pingback: What other people said, Monday edition « Attempting Elegance

  7. Case, Joe and I talked about this incident on the phone and we both agreed that it prob. will never get better than that for you, you have experienced your ultimate wet dream… its all down hill from here. Will, you’re a loser… but I’m glad you’re all right!

    -Pie

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