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ICE (In Case of Emergency)

ICE (for In Case of Emergency ) is an abbreviation that a cell phone user can enter into the device's directory to identify the telephone number of a primary contact, such as next of kin. In an emergency situation, when a person may not be able to speak, the ICE listing allows rescue workers or other helpers to notify the appropriate person and get relevant information as quickly as possible.

Bob Brotchie, a British paramedic, came up with the idea for ICE. According to statistics from Brotchie's unit in East Anglia, only 25% of people carry emergency contact information. In situations where a person is in shock or unconscious, rescue workers and hospital staff frequently call stored numbers in the individual's cell phone. Brotchie thought that the process could be simplified if there were a simple, universal means of identifying an emergency contact number. Cell phones were deemed the logical choice because people who use the devices tend to carry them wherever they go, even in situations where they might not carry a purse or wallet.

The ICE campaign launched in Britain in April of 2005 and gained a great deal of public awareness in the wake of subsequent terrorist attacks in London. The campaign has spread to other parts of the world through organizational directives, press articles, and word of mouth. A number of emergency organizations that recommend the ICE system to the public also recommend that people make a point of carrying relevant medical information, such as blood type, details about any health issues or allergies they have and any medications they're currently taking.

This was last updated in August 2005

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