A dad saved the life of a farmer who was nearly crushed to death by half a ton of hay in a serious outdoor mishap — by using an app to guide an emergency medical team to the rural location.
Michael Moss, 39, had been eating lunch outside in his yard when he heard distant screams for help coming from the fields behind his home in Worksop, in Nottinghamshire, England, according to SWNS, a British news agency.
Moss ran in the general direction of the anguished cries.
There, he found an idle tractor — and nearby, a farmer who was trapped underneath a 1,000-pound industrial-sized bale of hay, said SWNS.
The farmer, known only as “Stephen,” was pinned to the ground from the waist down and in excruciating pain.
He was screaming, “Help me!”
Moss tried to budge the heavy bale of himself with no luck.
So he dialed 999 — the number to dial for emergencies in the U.K. — but knew he couldn’t guide the ambulance to the exact location because it was so rural.
The father told SWNS that, thinking quickly, he decided to use his what3words app — which provides an accurate location for emergency services using three randomized words as a code.
What3words Limited, based in London, owns the app. The system encodes geographic coordinates into three permanently fixed dictionary words.
Once Moss told the emergency call handlers the words “dads,” “scorched” and “hairstyle,” medics were able to pinpoint where he was to within a three meter-square radius.
Moss, a dad of two, told SNWS, “It had been my daughter’s 6th birthday on June 23 … I was working and had been eating a sandwich outside before my next meeting.”
He said it was nearly 1:30 p.m. and that he could “hear a noise coming from about half a kilometer away” — a little over a quarter of a mile away.
“Where we live is very rural,” he said. “When you hear something unusual, you twitch your head. I heard it three times and thought, ‘That’s definitely not a good noise.’ I had to investigate what the noise was.”
He added, “I ran through the woodland in my flip-flops … [I] could hear, ‘Help me!’ as I got closer. A male voice was screaming, ‘Help me!’”
Moss said, “I could see a tractor cab parked. I was worried what I was going to face now — [was] he impaled, etc.? Who knows. That really triggered, ‘How am I going to deal with this?’”
He said he found the farmer “severely injured under the hay bale. It’s not the first thing you’d think to see.”
He said he’d approached the tractor from behind and saw that “something [had] fallen from the forks that he’s been working on,” SWNS reported.
Said Moss, “I saw the hay bale and a top half of a body. I tried to shoulder-barge this huge half-ton hay bale, but that didn’t work.”
So he asked the man “if he was losing blood, how the pain was. I was trying to get it for the 999 call. He told me to grab the phone for 999.”
Moss said, “I was thinking about how to describe where I [was] for emergency services. A previous boss worked in emergency services and said I should download what3words, but this was the first time I’d ever used it.”
He added, “As I’m on 999, they ask where we are. I said, ‘I’ve got what3words’ and they said that was good … [The emergency call handler] knew exactly where I was instantly.”
Paramedics arrived at the scene 15 minutes later and administered pain relief to the farmer, SNWS said. They transported him to the nearest hospital, which was an hour away.
Moss said he was also able to help the farmer call his farmhands — who also arrived at the scene to “try to shift the heavy bales.”
Said Moss, “There was another hay bale above him. It had slipped. That was above his head [and] it was starting to slip near his head.”
Added Moss, “You could hear the relief when we got the hay bale off and he tried to move about … The best way to describe his lower body [is that it] was like a squashed frog. His leg was in an unnatural [position].”
Farmer Stephen suffered severe trauma to his pelvis and femur, but Moss believes it could have been much worse if he hadn’t got there when he did, SWNS said.
Moss said, “Those three minutes I had with what3words made all the difference … The phone signal is an area of contention. It’s not great there. What3words gives you [is] something you can do offline — using three words to save your life.”
What3words works by dividing the globe into a grid of squares, with each square given a unique combination of three words, noted SWNS.
The digital-mapping company was launched in July 2013.