On Sunday, Sarah Greep of Plymouth, England, found herself trapped inside the Minster Church of St. Andrew after volunteers mistakenly assumed all worshippers had left. Faced with a day-long wait until church officials returned for evening services, Greep did what any tech savvy service-goer would do: She tweeted for help.
“I realised I was locked in so I started going through my phone book, thinking of all the people I could contact,” Greep told the Guardian. “But it was a lovely day outside, I thought most people would be out enjoying the weather. I didn’t want to bother anyone so I just started tweeting.”
— -.-.Sarah.-.- (@SarahGreep) August 11, 2013
While waiting for a social media savior, Greep made the most her time by filming a video of her predicament and tweeting photos of the church to her followers. Her postings finally found their way to the local police, who located the church warden and obtained a spare key.
Greep isn’t the only person to be saved by a 140 character SOS. In 2010, philadelphia cyclist Leigh Fazzina tried to call for assistance when she crashed her bicycle, but couldn’t get a connection. Unable to get up and too far away from her group to scream, Fazzina turned to her 1000+ twitter followers as a last resort, tweeting:
According to USA Today, at least six followers called the authorities and medics arrived at the scene within minutes.
However, not all police departments are on board with citizens using Twitter to get help. During Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the North East, the New York City Fire Department begged New Yorkers to use the phone, not a website, to report emergencies.
— FDNY (@FDNY) October 30, 2012
As the NYFD clarified to CNET, the department did also respond to tweeted calls for assistance during the storm, but wanted to remind city-dwellers that calling 911 “is always best.”