ICE Your Cell Phone for Emergency Contacts

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr, MD, FACP, FACR

No one likes to think about the possibility of being seriously injured in an accident, but take a moment to consider what might happen if you're rendered unconscious in an accident or other disaster. How would authorities or emergency personnel notify your loved ones? By tracing your car's license number or looking at your driver's license, it may be possible to obtain your home phone number, but your loved ones may not be there to receive the call.

Because of this difficulty in locating family members of accident victims, the ICE idea was born. The ICE concept is simple- simply program your cellular phone memory with the acronym ICE ("in case of emergency") followed by the names and phone numbers of those whom you would wish to be notified in an emergency. For example, "ICE-1 John Smith" as a saved contact entry in your phone would alert emergency response personnel to contact Mr. Smith at the number listed. You can program as many numbers as you like using ICE-2, ICE-3, etc. so that your emergency contact person's office and/or cellular phone numbers are also recorded.

Launched in the U.K. in May 2005, ICE was the idea of East Anglian Ambulance Service paramedic Bob Brotchie. The idea has been promoted in a nationwide campaign in the U.K. and is gaining in popularity in the U.S. and other countries. Stickers are commercially available (or you can make your own) to affix to your cell phone to alert emergency personnel to the fact that you have emergency contact information stored in your cell phone's memory. You can also put a sticker on the back of your driver's license or other form of identification so that rescuers will know where to look for emergency contact information.

Programming your cell phone takes only minutes to accomplish, yet it may save you and your loved ones hours of anguish in the event of an emergency. Rapid access to your next of kin, who will be able to provide your medical history and any background information needed, can also enhance the success of your emergency treatment.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014