ICE… what’s that?
ICE stands for ‘In Case of Emergency’. If you visit the official ICE website (www.incaseofemergency.org) you’ll quickly see it paints a compelling picture that illustrates the importance of ICE.
Imagine this. You’re sitting at home, expecting a loved one to walk through the door any minute… and they don’t. Imagine then calling the police to report a missing person, only to be told you have to wait 48 hours before you can do this.
What’s your next step?
Do you call all the local hospitals to enquire about unidentified patients who have recently been admitted? The thought makes your stomach churn.
Now imagine being a paramedic, turning up to the scene of an accident with an unconscious patient whom you suspect is critically injured, and realising you can’t contact any next of kin.
Whether you’re the patient, the next of kin, or the first person on the scene, it isn’t a pretty picture is it? Bob Brotchie, a British paramedic, came up with an idea…
So, what is ICE?
Originally, ICE was conceptualised to encourage people to put next of kin telephone numbers in their mobile. First responders such as nurses, paramedics, police officers and firefighters, could then search for ICE numbers in a phone to contact the right people in an emergency. The idea was developed in 2005 and has become a recognised protocol since.
Unfortunately, the use of ICE numbers in mobile phones has faltered since phone locking became more popular. Some mobile manufacturers have developed handsets that will show a certain amount of ICE information, but it’s still hit and miss. However, when it comes to finding out information in an emergency, all is not lost.
A mobile phone need not be the first port of call for paramedics when they’re looking for contact information. Small tags are now available that can be worn to provide ICE information, as well as much more. Details of medication, allergies and other medical problems can also be included. All of which is of great value to a first responder on the scene.
The great thing about ICEtags also is that the information is easy to access. Did you know it can take medics up to 8 hours to identify someone when they’re found unconscious? And they often won’t/can’t move a person when they arrive for fear of causing more injury. Wearing an ICEtag makes it easy. So where do you find them?
Here’s where to look…
The possible location of an ICEtag will depend on the activity the person was participating in before their accident. A tag on a helmet if you’re cycling makes a lot more sense, visibility wise, than a necklace, for example. But here’s a list of places ICEtags are often worn:
• Zip tags
Universal MedicAlert symbol
An additional point to note is that ICEtags can include the universal MedicAlert symbol too. For those who are members with information stored on the MedicAlert Foundation’s database, this could be invaluable. Paramedics and first responders are trained to look for the symbol. It does save lives.
So what can I do?
In a nutshell… help us spread the word!
If you know a nurse or a firefighter etc., get them to pass this message on.
Send them this link. Tweet it.
The more people who know about ICE and ICEtags the better. You don’t have to be a paramedic to make a difference to someone’s life!