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‘ICE' urged for use in cell, phone book

By JIM OSBORN/Telegram Staff Writer

COLUMBUS - A national campaign to turn cell phones into a source of information for emergency personnel arriving at the scene of accidents, fires and disasters has gotten a cool reception in the Columbus area during the last year.

Cell phone users are being encouraged to list their emergency contacts under the acronym ICE for “in case of emergency,'' a movement that Lt. Terry Pfeifer of the Columbus Fire Department believes could be helpful at emergency scenes.

“We haven't seen it (ICE contact lists) out on calls and I haven't researched the issue, but it sounds like it could be a good idea out in the field,'' Pfeifer said. “It could have its advantages and be a useful tool in some situations.”

A British paramedic came up with the idea of asking cell phone users to input an entry into their cellular phonebook called ICE. Accompanying that acronym would be the name and phone numbers of the person who should be called if something has happened to the owner of the phone.

The ICE campaign was launched in Britain in April, but people really started paying attention after the July terrorist bombings in London that killed 56 and injured hundreds.

An ICE contact list could be a better resource at the hospital after paramedics or other emergency personnel have transported the patient from the accident or disaster scene. Paramedics sometimes have to use the precious minutes they have at the scene to concentrate on patient care and don't have time to search for a cell phone.

Once at the hospital, personnel could find a cell phone's ICE contacts useful in determining a patient's identification, Pfeifer said. Hospital personnel would have more time after a patient has been stabilized, he said.

During most calls, Pfeifer said paramedics are successful in calming down a patient's relatives or friends at the scene and gaining the identification and medical history information they need.

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