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IUEMS starts new initiative
'ICE' utilizes cell phone storage


By Andrea Alumbaugh
Indiana Daily Student
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Following its mock wreck staged Saturday, the IU Emergency Medical Service club is broadening its efforts to increase awareness about the importance of safety on campus. Club members will be handing out flyers all week to promote ICE, the "In Case of Emergency" plan that encourages people to program a list of emergency contacts into their cell phones.

"Basically, IUEMS is in the business of saving lives. That's what we do," said IUEMS President and Chief Tamara Habib. "And one way that we can do that is through education in the community."

Habib said the sooner an emergency response team can get in contact with someone's parents or close friends, the better chance that person has to make a speedy and meaningful recovery.

"Minutes can count in saving someone's life," she said. "Communication is one of the most important things in an emergency, and this can provide quicker communication."

To foster such speedy communication, Habib said students should have two or three contacts in their cell phone under the heading "ICE-contact," where "contact" is replaced with the name of the individual. One of the contacts should be a parent/guardian or the person who would have power-of-attorney, or be able to make a serious medical decision for a student. Another contact should be a friend or relative who lives in the immediate area.

"It's not necessarily the person you're closest to; just the person that could make those decisions if they needed to," Habib said, adding, "We're all very far away from our parents. The sooner they can be headed down here, the better."

The ICE initiative is nothing new, however. The idea to store an emergency name and number under the ICE acronym came from Cambridge paramedic Bob Brotchie, and it began to gain international recognition following the July 2005 bombings in London.

"It's not something that is new to law enforcement at all," said IU Police Department Lt. Jerry Minger. "I think it's something that (IUEMS) is trying to create more awareness and consciousness about, to make it more pervasive to people."

So much attention has been focused on the plan that it has expanded to include ICE cards that can provide information about a person's medical history, blood type and current medications, in addition to emergency contacts. "ICE" is even being considered for inclusion in the print version of the Macmillan English Dictionary.

Habib said that, for now, her group will focus on the stored phone number aspect of the plan, working with the support of Bloomington Hospital, Bloomington Hospital Ambulance Services, Bloomington Fire Department and IUPD.

Minger said that if for some reason an individual who is in need of emergency assistance is incapacitated or unable to speak, having emergency contacts in a cell phone under an easily accessible heading could make it much easier to get help for that person.

"In this community, as you can imagine, cell phones are extremely pervasive. They are widely used, especially in a student population like IU," Minger said. "Invariably, if you come across someone, they have a cell phone."

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