ICE your cell phone “in case of emergency”

By Gus Bode

Storing contact info in cell phones speeds up notification process

A simple acronym, known as ICE, originated in Britain for use with cell phones in emergencies. Carbondale Police Chief Steve Odum said ICE would speed up notification of a victim’s next of kin.

Jackson County 911 is urging residents to use ICE to help emergency personnel identify whom they should call if a person is injured, said its Director Patrick Lustig. The emergency system encourages people who have cell phones to store their emergency contact information under the acronym.

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“It all came about basically because of the bombings in London,” Lustig said. “They started the program and we in the US thought it was a vital program to start up as well.”

He said sometimes finding personal information and contact information can be time consuming and difficult.

“The vast majority of people have cell phones today,” Lustig said. “It’s a way for us to better alert family members.”

The U.S. Census Bureau recorded 159 million cell phone subscribers in the country in 2003.

When people are unable to communicate, police usually identify them by searching through personal belongings like purses and wallets.

“In an emergency situation, it would be great to be able to get this information,” Odum said. “It would allow us to notify people with more speed.”

He will make his officers aware that this information may be stored in cell phones, Odum said, because he believes once people hear about it, they will do it.

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The program has already been implemented cities and counties in states like Connecticut and Florida. Lustig, who is currently in San Diego, said he saw a report on television urging residents in the city to use the acronym.

Lustig became aware of the program through the National Emergency Numbers Association. He said the coordinators and directors of many other regional 911 services are also aware of the program.

“So it’s basically a national push now,” Lustig said. “This just gives us a better tool to serve our public.”

He said the program can be used for more than just car accidents. It can also be used to identify people after natural disasters like tornados.

He said the program is simple because it is free and people can choose whether to participate in it.

George Maroney, an administrator at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, said health information like chronic conditions or drug allergies should always be worn on or carried by the individual so emergency medical staff will be aware of any complications.

Reporter Destiny Remezas can be reached at [email protected]

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