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ICE in cell phones could save lives

By JON HETZEL
The Fulton Sun

Programming ICE - In Case of Emergency - into your cell phone next to a loved one's name can help emergency personnel quickly find the right individual to contact for medical or personal information.

Cell phones can be essential emergency tools for police departments and hospitals trying to identify a victim or contact a relative.

However, when an emergency room needs medical information to save a life, finding the right person's phone number can be overwhelming, especially when scanning the dozens of names in a person's phone log.

“It's one of those situations where if a person is injured or in an accident and they don't have identification on them, we'll try to use whatever we can to figure out who they are,” said Fulton Police Department Lt. Rich McKee.

A movement across the nation is spurring individuals to enter the acronym ICE next to a loved one's contact information in their cell phones. ICE refers to “In Case of Emergency” and lets emergency personnel quickly know what numbers to call.

For example, “ICE Johanna” or “ICE Mom” would stand out, saving officials precious time when looking for life-saving information.

Lisa Clark, the director of the emergency room and intensive care unit at Callaway Community Hospital, backs the acronym as a key to obtaining medical information. She also has programed the letters into her own phone.

“I know that from a hospital's point of view, if someone comes in unresponsive and has a cell phone on them, we could get in and dial the ICE number,” Clark said.

Clark said there have been times in the past she has had to use a cell phone in the emergency room and finding someone with needed medical information can be difficult.

That is why it is important when using ICE to make sure the ICE contact can confirm a victim's date of birth, name, address, allergies, blood type and previous medical history.

Callaway County Ambulance District director Charlie Anderson said if a child's parents need to be reached to give treatment permission, ICE could save a lot of time.

“It's not a bad idea,” said Anderson. “If you're talking about a child or a teenager who is out on their own a lot, it would be good for the mom and dad's number to be programed.”

ICE was conceived by Bob Brotchie, a British paramedic frustrated with attempts to procure information about patients. A major push for the acronym began after the London bombings last July when the idea received more international attention.

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