Home > Communication, ICE Emergency > ICE – In Case of Emergency – Vital Communication

ICE – In Case of Emergency – Vital Communication

April 15, 2009

ICE . Its not about the bling (diamonds, gold, platinum) you where or fashion on your close or phone. Its something even I found amazing and forgotten about for the past 4yrs since it debuted.

ICE is an abbreviation for In Case of Emergency!

I had forgotten about this until I came across a posting at Nokia Conversations by James. Having 2 kids myself, 1 old enough to carry a phone daily, along with my wife & myself both working full-time how could I be so ignorant to the importance of this. I find myself a very loving, hard and cautious parent of my kids safety & of my wife but I forgot about this?!

In Case of Emergency [ICE] is a program that enables first responders, such as paramedics, firefighters, and police officers, to identify victims and contact their next of kin to obtain important medical information. The program was conceived in the mid-2000s and promoted by British paramedic Bob Brotchie in May 2005. It encourages people to enter emergency contacts in their cell phone address book under the name “ICE”. Alternately, a person can list multiple emergency contacts as “ICE1”, “ICE2”, etc. The popularity of the program has spread across Europe and Australia, and has started to grow into North America.

Tonight I’m going to enter ICE1/2/3 in my kids’, my wife’s phone, and my own. I suggest that ALL my readers do the same in their own as well if you love those in your family and if you have loved ones that care dearly about you!

However, something I just thought of that is of more precedence in ICE becoming effective. A problem here that NEEDS to be fixed as an initiative by mobile manufacturers; and possibly law makers.

It is evident that the growth of smartphones – currently slow due to halting economic times – is steady and will soon eclipse feature phones or dumbphones by 2011. However, MANY people lock their phones – either SIM lock [Europeans this is VERY common]  or device lock. However even without a SIM card or if locked a person can dial 911. Great you think. But think again.

Back in early 2004, I had just left work. Walking in the pathway that intersects 3 office buildings and connects to the local subway [subterranean]. It was late around midnight and I just finished working a 15hr solid shift. In the distance ahead, just shy of the stairway entrance to the subway I saw what I thought was a kid playing on the floor. I couldn’t make out what the kid was doing and didn’t think much of it. As I approached closer & closer – noticing that at least 5 adults walked past this ‘kid’ staring or doing double takes, I figured the kid was spining in circles on the ground. I thought the ‘kid’ was about 5yrs old. I pulled out my headphones from my walkman, heard a teenager talking to her friend about the ‘kid’ and saying ‘she’s a sketch! she’s high and doing the chicken‘.

OMFG! This ‘kid’ was actually an adult! Moreover, this adult is NOT doing the funky-chicken, but having an epileptic siezure! You have NO IDEA how alert I became! I immediately sprinted to the woman having a siezure; began shouting in her ear – ‘CAN YOU HEAR ME? You’re having a siezure! I’m hear to help you. Don’t be afraid!‘ Quickly I began to scan her body; looking at joints clenched hands & teeth [meaning she cannot communicate and siezure could be critical]. I gently and firmly rolled the woman to her side and put my knapsack under her head, bracing her neck in a natural position. I did notice that she had a cellphone in her hand. Guess what … she tried dialing 911 but unsuccessfully!

91111111111111 AAAAAAAA etc.

I mentioned to her that I’ll dial 911 for her and did so immediately while putting my jacket over her to keep her warm. 911 did their standard routine: who am I, confirmed my location (cellular triangulation no need to ask), situation & possible name of victim. At this point I was SCOWLING MAD, staring at the teenage girl on the phone for being an IDIOT for not helping another woman so late at night and too busy to keep conversation on a payphone. Well the seizure settled down just before the ambulance arrived and the woman regained consciousness. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that a few more adults that began to pass by when I first approached this woman just stared and I yelled at them too to dial 911, only NOW began to offer help stating ‘you shouldn’t let her go‘ , ‘sit her down‘ . Duh!

To be honest, the frightening look on the woman’s face told me she thought I may have mugged her – and trying to talk to her didn’t help as she barely spoke english. However I did recognize her native language – Russian (the beauty of living in a mosaic country; Canada). I gave back her phone and she looked MORE scared, confused until I showed her the last number dialed and the duration. Still panick was in her heart – but those that suffer seizures don’t remember what had occured.

The ambulance arrived – I explained the woman spoke Russian. They mentioned for me to get premise security and I asked why? ‘Didn’t you notice her uniform?‘ Actually no I didn’t I went into automatic. Well her colleague was pleased to know that someone helped and explained it to her and she cried. Her epilepcy was her secret; she thought it would affect her job status. The paramedic’s asked how I knew what to do. I said I didn’t think I really did but I only practiced what I was on a kids special on TV by Disney over 20yrs ago. He marveled not just in my memory of what to do but how I learned what to do. Yes you CAN learn things by watching TV.

This goes to show that regardless of being ABLE to dial 911 – doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to speak or convey what is going on. Any kidnapping, loss of life, or accident – life threatening or not; ICE is an important, neh, even critical form of communication! This lady couldn’t successfully connect the 911 dialing, I could. What if she lapsed into a comma? Her phone would dial 911 – but the paramedic on the phone would NOT be able to accurately inform those emergency staff on route what to prepare for or help ME prepare the one in need. Using the ICE system allows you to also enter a note with each contact – most smartphones/feature phones allow this – stating a brief yet possibly life saving information like medication needs, drug allergies [penicillin], etc.

So common everyone … get with the ICE program. Manufacturers should enable, by default a specific listing in the address book called ICE – or translations in other languages of course. Furthermore, this should be allowed to be dialed EVEN if locked. Let the responsible providers figure out if they’ll also log these numbers as no fee long distance if dialed while roaming on an limited time-line [10mins sufficient] ??!!

NOTE: E.123 (a language-independent version of ICE)

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