Brit's emergency cell phone contact idea gains attention in U.S.

| 7/26/2005

A British paramedic has developed a system to counter a common problem encountered by emergency personnel while trying to help people.

The problem: Nearly 80 percent of all Brits don’t carry next of kin details.

The solution: Eighty percent carry a mobile phone, most of whom have it on them all the time.

Those two facts gave the paramedic an idea for a simple way of letting emergency workers know who to contact should you be involved in an accident. He calls the system ICE.

Standing for In Case of Emergency, adding an ICE entry to a cell phone’s memory will allow ambulance crews and police officers to quickly contact a nominated person who can be informed of the incident, according to a Web site set up to explain the program.

To participate in the ICE alert system, the steps are simple:

  • Type the acronym ICE followed by a contact name (for example, ICE – Mom or ICE – David) into the address book of your mobile phone;
  • Save their phone number; and
  • Tell your ICE contact that you have nominated them.

The ICE concept was the brainchild of Cambridge-based paramedic Bob Brotchie, who works for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust. He launched ICE in early 2005.

“The whole idea is brilliant, purely and simply because of modern lifestyles,” he said on the Web site. “It’s a very sensible campaign and I wholly endorse it.”

The following hints were provided on the ICE Web site for setting up your contact information for paramedics and emergency personnel to use efficiently:

  • Make sure the person whose name and number you are giving has agreed to be your ICE contact;
  • Make sure your ICE contact has a list of people they should contact on your behalf – including your place of work;
  • Make sure your ICE contact’s number is one that’s easy to contact, for example a home number could be useless in an emergency if the person works full time;
  • Make sure your ICE partner knows about any medical conditions that could affect your emergency treatment – for example allergies or current medication;
  • Make sure if you are under 18, your ICE partner is a parent or guardian authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf; and
  • Should your preferred contact be deaf, then prefix the number with ICETEXT.

For more information, visit