Imagine sitting at home waiting for a loved one to arrive and not knowing where they are. Imagine ringing the police but they can do nothing until an adult has been missing for at least 48 hours. Imagine ringing the hospitals; they don’t have anyone with your loved one’s name but they may have unidentified patients. Now imagine what it’s like to be a paramedic, desperately trying to find the next of kin of a critically injured patient. All of this heartache can be avoided by a simple action.
As a paramedic since the 90’s (now retired from NHS, I’m a counsellor today) I had been using the mobile phones of ‘casualties’ for a while to try to notify loved ones as soon as possible. Professionally, I knew how distressing it is to see someone without family at their bedside. Personally, I had also been ‘that person’ as back in 1979, following a car accident I was critically injured due to having been ejected at high speed from a somersaulting car. I ‘came to’ at the hospital, briefly at first, and was confused, frightened and ‘alone’!
The ‘Lightbulb’ Moment! (As a Paramedic)
I asked myself in 2004, whilst reflecting on a serious traffic collision I had attended the previous day, how I could create a uniform way for the public to accept, and emergency responders to adopt, a method of accessing the relevant info – fast. I thought of an acronym, considering various options so that ‘I’ would know where to look in the casualties mobile phones contact list straight-away..
My earlier experiences had demonstrated that simply searching the contact list was haphazard and time consuming! I didn’t know who to call and often got no answer anyway. Worst was when I had to give up, so as to continue with immediate care. I thought of ICE – In Case of Emergency and felt that if mobile phone owners prefixed the ‘agreed’ ICE contact with ICE, then responders could go instantly to ‘I’ for ICE. Simple! So an example is: ICE-Mum, ICE-Bob, etc. You can have more than one but please ALSO have that conversation with the ‘agreed’ ICE Contact. I then started to put out feelers for opinions to this idea – with phone companies, medics and the public. The response was overwhelmingly positive!
Simon Weston and Bob Brotchie in London talking to the nation’s local Radio Stations for the day to promote the Vodafone Lifesaver Awards and ICE..
What were the potential concerns at that time?
What if the mobile phone has been ‘locked by passcode’?
Clearly, with the phones of the day, the majority not being ‘smartphones’, then it was a ‘matter of choice’. Today, it need not be an issue!
With the proliferation of ‘smartphones’, there are now ‘apps’ which allow the phone to be ‘locked’, yet still allow access to the information YOU wish to be known – in case of emergency. I have provided information on this website for you if you wish to use something more than my ‘original idea’, which is still the number one choice – globally! Most of us can now create a ‘locked screen’ wallpaper with our photo, and the ICE details!
What if the phone is damaged, separated from its owner, etc?
Clearly, in that scenario, the phone will become useless for the purposes of ICE. The solution is to have more than one method. There are other methods, which I support, that are listed on this website.
Some emergency responders feel that they will be “better served dealing with the casualty”.
Quite right! At no point in time have I ever reduced my care to the patient whilst seeking ICE info. These days, there is always someone such as a colleague or police officer who can support the notification/identification process.
So, that’s the story of ICE! Please consider ICE ‘original’, for you and those you care about. Thank you for your interest, Bob Brotchie