Women hear about bad things that happen to other women all of the time. But I, like many others, forget that these things could happen to me. Luckily, when I was kidnapped by a taxi driver on Friday night, I had my cell phone on me.
The phone only had battery power because I’d shut it off earlier that night when I saw it only had one bar. I thought to myself, “You don’t want to have a dead phone in case of an emergency.”
Thank god I thought that because six hours later, I was calling 911 on a taxi driver who refused to let me out of his car. I’d tried to use my debit card to pay for our ride, but he claimed his machine was not working. I requested to try again and he began to grow angry with me, shouting, “This is your problem! Not my problem!”
When I finally told the man that this was actually HIS problem, he child locked all of the doors in the car and sped off with me, screaming about how he would just take me to the police station. This was all quite baffling to me. After all, I had my card in my hand and was ready and willing to pay for the cab right there if his machine would work.
I tried everything I could to unlock the doors. They wouldn’t budge. I was pounding on the glass between the driver’s seat and mine. I put my head through the hole in the glass to tell him to stop the car and he raised his hand to hit me; luckily, I moved away. At this point, I grabbed my phone and called 911.
Once he realized I was serious about calling 911 and that this situation would only escalate if he didn’t pull over, he finally stopped the car. Conveniently enough, he stopped the car next to a police car stationed on the street with two officers on duty.
The officers let me out of the car and we found out his machine was, in fact, working just fine. What happens next will be decided by court. However, I really wonder what would have happened had I not saved my battery power and had my cell phone on me to call 911 and show the driver that I wasn’t about to put up with his bullsh*t.
Please let this be a lesson to all of you out there, particularly the women, to always have your cell phones on hand (and charged) just in case.
Last January, I had just dropped out of Manchester Metropolitan University. I spent my Wednesday evening with a few mates at the Venue nightclub,where drinks were 50p all night.By closing time,we were very drunk and somehow got separated.I got the bus on my own,then wandered through Owens Park and got completely lost. Eventually I came to a 6ft fence.I took a running jump but only got half way over. At first I didn't realise I had impaled myself. I was so drunk I couldn't even feel it. It wasn't until I tried to wriggle off that it started hurting. I couldn't move. I started shouting and screaming but no one heard. I could have been there all night and bled or frozen to death, but thankfully my drunken logic kicked in, and I realised that the only way off was to phone the emergency services. I got my mobile from my pocket and got through to this disbelieving woman, who tried to work out where I was.
Because I was so drunk and lost, it took them half an hour to find me. I was just left there contemplating things. The spike went nearly all the way through my groin. If it had hit a main nerve, I would have lost a leg. And if it had reached the main artery, I could have bled to death. I was hanging off the fence by my pants and the elastic from my boxers was digging through my thigh like cheesewire. I could hear my blood dripping on to the concrete below.
The fire brigade had to cut me off by hand with hacksaws,to avoid shaking the fence and rupturing an artery. It took about three-quarters of an hour. I thought it was quite funny at the time. Apparently I was joking with them, but towards the end, shock started setting in. I started shaking and feeling really cold. In hospital they cut all my clothes off, so I was lying naked on a bed, with a piece of fence still stuck in me, and nurses staring at me. But there wasn't a lot I could do about it. Someone took some photos and stuff. Then they put me to sleep and operated. I awoke with a hangover and a catheter, and stayed there for five days. I was the comedy item at the end of the news that night.
When I was travelling alone in Western Australia last year, I drove to the Stirling Range and parked at the entrance to the well-trodden path up Bluff Knoll.It is the highest peak in the range, and 15,000 people walk it every year,but I was there out of season, so there weren't any tourist trips.
The notice board in the car park said it was a three-hour walk to the top, and warned that the weather is changeable. It was a little misty as I started, but I didn't think it was anything to worry about. About 25 minutes after I got to the top, it started to drizzle and the fog got so thick that after wandering around for an hour and a half, I couldn't even find the path. It was so frustrating, because I just couldn't see. By then, the peaks had all become identical silhouettes, so I couldn't even find my way back up again.
I take my phone everywhere because you never know when you will need it. Eventually I called my dad, 9,000 miles away in Great Yarmouth. He made me promise to call the local emergency services, but I really didn't want to waste their time, and make myself look silly.
Luckily he didn't trust me, so he called them. My dad called the police,and they called me, but my battery went dead after five seconds. My dad had told them where I was though, and the Gnowangerup district state emergency services rescue team was sent to find me. It was now about 7pm, dark, cold and raining heavily. I found an overhanging rock to lie under, but it was only about a foot-and-a-half wide, and the ground was wet and muddy. I pointed my torch skyward, to make myself visible, and shouted for help, but only an echo of my own voice shouted back. At one point I thought I heard a whistle, but wasn't sure if my mind was playing tricks on me.
They found me an hour later, having almost called the search off five minutes before. Thankfully one rescuer had asked for a little more time. Without my mobile,I would have been up there all night, and could have caught pneumonia,or fallen in the poor visibility. I later heard that the local mobile-phone mast was put up only a week before my visit.
Stephen O 'Brien
I was canoeing about 150 yards off the Skerries lighthouse, off the coast of Anglesey, when some freak waves turned the canoe over. I was on my own, which was a mistake, but I would do it again, because the trip is extremely exhilarating. The conditions looked favourable before I set out. I had called the coastguard and told them who I was, where I was leaving from and heading to, and that I would phone when I made it safely across. But I never got that far.
I managed to right myself twice, but then a third wave hit me from a different direction, before I got my breath back. I couldn't right it that time, so I had to get out of the upside-down canoe. I realised I wouldn't be able to swim to shore because of the currents. I got my mobile out and called the coastguards.
I was in a sea kayak, which has watertight compartments; my phone and distress flares were in one of them. And the phone was in a zipped plastic bag to keep it dry. If I had done a different trip that day, I would not have got a signal. It is very patchy along the coast. I would like to see better coastal reception, so that smaller crafts can use mobiles when in difficulty. I work in a lighthouse, and certainly wouldn't mind having a mast put up there. Without my phone, I do not think I would be here today.
I managed to give the coastguard my position, but had to break off contact to secure myself to the canoe which was helping me stay afloat in the rough sea. At that moment, the canoe got knocked over by another huge wave, and I lost the phone and flares. All I could do was wait. I was in the water for two-and-a-half hours. Spotting me was like finding a needle in a haystack because I was so low in the water, with such big waves. And because the tide had changed, I floated in the opposite direction to where I said I was heading.
They rescued me 20 minutes before dark. Much later, and they wouldn't have been able to find me. I probably would have lasted a few more hours, because I had all the proper equipment. But despite wearing a wetsuit and lifejacket, I could feel hypothermia setting in. I had to keep my mind occupied. I had a gut feeling that I would be all right.
Four lifeboats were searching for me, along with the mountain rescue helicopter and another helicopter from Dublin. The mountain rescue crew were searching the shoreline and cliffs. Even the Irish ferry was diverted to help. But it was a trawler from Fleetwood that spotted me. I don't know if they had been roped into the search, or if it was a fluke, but I never had a chance to thank them.
Vaughan Smith, freelance television cameraman, Frontline TV
In March 1998, I travelled to Kosovo to cover the riots for the BBC. We heard that in a village called Prekaz there had been fighting between Serbs and Albanians and that there was an organisation there, which turned out to be the Kosovo Liberation Army. I decided to investigate with another cameraman, Kenny Brown. We saw smoke coming from buildings a few kilometres away,over several ridges of hills. We ducked and crawled all the way, and sneaked past a sniper cordon, which was there to keep people like me from seeing that the Serbs were committing ethnic cleansing. Through respecting these cordons, journalists missed much of the Bosnian war, including the initial ethnic cleansing, which was probably the worst. So we thought it was worth the risk.
I went forward alone with my camera and tripod on to a forward slope, overlooking the village. It was late in the evening, the sun was in my eyes, and it was hard to see through the undergrowth. But I was able to film the burning of the village, and armoured cars bulldozing buildings. The armoured cars turned out to be stolen from the Dutch army in Srebrenica in 1995.
Having got my pictures, we tried to extract ourselves. We were running along a track on the side of a hill when we were fired at. I felt something hit me on the side of my stomach. But as we got down and crawled away, I was in no pain. I thought I was fine. I assumed it was either a ricocheted bullet, or that the bullet had flicked a stone up at me. We continued running like hell and managed to get back.
It was going to be on telly, so I thought I had better ring the missus. My mobile was in my pouch with a packet of cigarettes and 6,000 deutschmark rolled into a tight ball in a hand- kerchief.In my pouch I found a slightly squashed and bent bullet, which had gone into the pouch, through the money and embedded itself into the phone's battery. Apart from the biggest bruise you have ever seen and a little blood, I was fine. I reckon the bullet would have gone through the phone without the money, and without either I would have been killed. Unfortunately the phone was no longer working so I couldn't make my call.