Loved ones aren’t always with us in emergency situations like a car accident or sudden illness, but our cell phones usually are. Because of this, a campaign is spreading internationally to get the word out about I.C.E.
I.C.E. stands for “in case of emergency”.
The idea is to get people to list emergency contacts in their cell phone in a way that medical teams know who to call in a critical situation.
The concept is simple. Put the name of your emergency contact in your cell phone with the word “ice” in front of it, like “ice Mom”.
If you have more than one emergency contact, you can list them as ice 1, ice 2, and so on. Then, in case of an emergency, responders know whom to alert.
“Since many people carry cell phones now, it is an easy way for you to let us know, emergency health care workers who to contact in the event that you’re not able to tell us that information yourself,” said emergency department manager Ruth White.
When the international I.C.E. initiative started four years ago, local paramedics told us they weren’t likely to use I.C.E. at the scene of an accident because scrolling through a cell phone would waste valuable time.
“What I want to caution people is that EMS would seldom use this. In the states, I don’t know of any EMS agency that would delay treatment or transport to look through a cell phone to see it they had a contact,” said New Hanover Regional EMS worker Patricia Fields back in 2005.
Ruth White agrees. It’s after the initial response that ice comes in handy. “When the paramedic is on the scene treating the patient, I.C.E. is going to be irrelevant and their not going to take time to stop and look for that, but after the fact when the patient’s been delivered to the emergency department, that’s when it’s important to us.”
White, who’s also a nurse, says she sees three to four patients a day come in unresponsive and alone.
Having the I.C.E. contact in their phone would allow medical personnel to discuss treatments and important medical information with family members in a critical situation.
The I.C.E. program was started by a British paramedic in 2005.
Its popularity spread across Europe and Australia before starting to catch on in the United States.