In Case of Emergency: use ICE Contacts

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In Case of Emergency (ICE) is a programme that encourages mobile users to enter emergency contacts in their mobile phone address book under the name “ICE”. The idea is that should the user ever be in an emergency, the paramedics, police or rescue workers simply have to look for the entry/name “ICE” on the individual’s phone to know who to contact.

It is simple and brilliant. You can use your wife’s number as your ICE contact. Or your dad, mom, husband, sister, best friend… anyone! With modern phones, you can enter more than one phone number too. For example, you can include the numbers of three different people – spouse, parent and bestie – in your ICE contact. Alternatively, a person can list multiple emergency contacts as “ICE1”, “ICE2”, etc.

The ICE programme was conceived in the mid-2000s and promoted by British paramedic Bob Brotchie in May 2005. Here were his thoughts:

“I was reflecting on some difficult calls I’ve attended, where people were unable to speak to me through injury or illness and we were unable to find out who they were. I discovered that many people, obviously, carry mobile phones and we were using them to discover who they were. It occurred to me that if we had a uniform approach to searching inside a mobile phone for an emergency contact then that would make it easier for everyone.”

ICE - In Case of Emergency

Locked Phones In Case of Emergency?

For security purposes, many mobile phone owners, like myself, lock their mobiles, requiring a password or passcode to be entered in order to access the device. This hinders the ability of first responders to access the ICE phone list entry.

For such users, it is not a bad idea to have an ICE card in your wallet or purse at all times. That would be a cardboard card with the heading as “ICE” that lists numbers you want called in an emergency, as well as any unique medical facts that rescuers and medics will find useful in attending to you in an emergency.

For example, if you are diabetic or hypertensive, your ICE card should state so. Put your ICE card in the same location as your ID card in your wallet. Effective.

Whatever solution works for you, do get on the ICE programme. None of us looks forward to accidents and emergencies, but it is a fact of life that they happen, and an initiative of this sort might just make a huge difference whenever life throws its odd curve balls.



  1. For locked phones you can have the display show the Locked Messaage as you ICE contact.

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