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Help is just a cell phone away

By DAN SPRINGER | La Crosse Tribune

In case of emergency, authorities want to be able to apply ICE — using your cell phone.

The La Crosse Fire Department is urging area residents to add emergency contact information to the contact list on their cell phones, under the heading ICE, which stands for “in case of emergency.”

The idea, launched by a paramedic in England, is catching on nationally and internationally, said Tom Morstatter, an EMS trainer with the fire department.

If the person is too injured or ill to speak and has no identification, that cell phone information could be crucial, he said.

At vehicle accidents, rescue crews can trace the license plate through law enforcement to find out who owns the vehicle.

“But if that’s not your car you’re driving, we still wouldn’t know who it is or where to go to find out,” Morstatter said.

Bystanders or witnesses often don’t know, either, so the person is transported as a John Doe or Jane Doe, he said.

Identifying the person makes it possible to retrieve medical records that could give emergency room staff more information about allergies or other medical conditions, Morstatter said.

Having a contact listed in the cell phone to discuss pre-existing conditions or health problems also could make a huge difference in an emergency, he said.

“By looking up ‘ICE’ on the injured person’s cell phone contact list, emergency personnel and others could then quickly find the right person to contact,” Morstatter said.

Dan Springer can be reached at (608) 791-8269 or dspringer@lacrossetribune.com.

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