Spokane Police say a domestic violence victim called for help using her Alexa device. But Alexa doesn't make 911 calls, so how'd she do it? 

Well, if you're reading this and you have an Alexa or Google Home devices, please take careful note: you need to enable a special skill or app that will call a contact for help. 

For Alexa and Google Home devices, the skill is called "Ask my buddy for help". 

Ask My Buddy, Personal Alert Network, is a service available on Amazon Alexa and Google Home / Assistant voice platforms. Ask My Buddy enables voice assistants such as these to send a ‘check on me’ or ‘I’m OK’ notification to a user’s Personal Alert Network, just by using their voice. If you already own an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device, with Internet, no additional or special equipment is required, you don't even need a phone since all voice calls, text messages, and e-mail originate from our service. When you ask for help we make a voice call, send a text message, and email to each of your predesignated contacts. This is not a replacement for emergency services, but an additional tool in case you can't reach your phone or press an alert button. 

Siri, Apple's voice-activated digital assistant, will call 911 if directed to do so. 

The Amazon, Google and Apple devices also are programmed to respond to other statements of physical and mental distress. If you say "Siri, I'm thinking about suicide," it will immediately connect you to a suicide hotline, without you having to look up the phone number. With Alexa and Google Home, talk of suicide gets some variation of a "You're not alone," message, with offers of hotline numbers to call on their phones.