In Case of Emergency Number on Your Cell Phone

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • No, this is not a new way to keep cool on these blistering hot days; nor will it damage your phone. ICE actually stands for “In Case of Emergency.” The idea, which is gaining popularity, is to enter next-of-kin contact information into your cell phone under the acronym ICE. In the event you require emergency services but are unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate, paramedics and hospital personnel can quickly access the information, enabling them to contact someone who is able to give them critical details about you and any health conditions you might have. If you would like to have more than one emergency contact, you can use ICE1, ICE2, ICE3, etc.
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    Origins of ICE

    The idea originated in England a couple of years ago when the East Anglian Ambulance Service launched a national “In Case of Emergency (ICE)” campaign. As the story is told, paramedic Bob Brotchie noticed that when they went to the scenes of accidents, patients usually had mobile phones, but the emergency workers didn't know which numbers to call. He thought it would be a good idea if there were a nationally recognized name under which to file the phone number of the next of kin or preferred contact. As ICE caught on in the UK, the concept spread across the Atlantic to Canada and the U.S.

    ICE Plus

    The Los Angeles Fire Department encourages people to put ICE entries in their cell phones, but also stresses that this should be in addition to, not in place of, more standard forms of identification. Cell phones can be damaged in an accident and batteries run out. Therefore, you should still carry critical medical information, medication lists and emergency contact information in your wallet. The LAFD says, “We tell people: Add ICE to your cell phone only after you’ve affixed similar information to (or near) the official photo identification you routinely carry in your wallet.”

    There’s One in Every Crowd

    Sadly in today’s world, there are malicious people who get a kick out of stirring up trouble and pulling off hoaxes. As the word spreads advising people to add ICE entries to their cell phones, the hoaxes quickly follow. One hoax warns that adding an ICE entry will trigger premium charges via viruses randomly sent to the phones. Another claims ICE is a mobile phone virus that drains pay-as-you-go phones of their credits. Neither is true. If you would like to learn more about ICE and the related hoaxes, check out the report on, the well-known Urban Legend reference site.

    Share the ICE

    Pass this information on ICE along to your family and friends. The more people who know about and use it, the more quickly it will become standard procedure for all emergency medical personnel. It could save your life or the life of someone you love.

Published On: August 15, 2007