In an emergency, ICE is cool
Once in a while, something comes along that makes so much sense and is so simple that each of us wonders why we didn’t think of it. Such is the “ICE” Cell Phone Plan.
No, it’s not the latest song from 1980’s rap star Vanilla Ice. Conceived by British paramedic Bob Brotchie, ICE solves a common problem. Often, first responders come upon a victim who is unable to communicate. Paramedics, police or firefighters look through wallets and similar items for clues as to whom to contact.
This is not a small issue. It has been reported that, in 2003 alone, 900,000 emergency-room patients were incapacitated and unable to give contact information. I’m already aware of my best friend’s mom being given an aggressive blood thinner when treated for a heart attack that triggered a stroke. Had the hospital known about her previous bad experience with blood thinners, maybe things could have been different.
A natural place to look is the address book on a cell phone. Unfortunately, many people program in their spouse by first name or there are so many people programmed in with the same last name that critical time is lost finding the right person. “Mom” or “Dad” may result in a call to an elderly parent that yields limited useful information. Or, even worse, sometimes it calls a bitter ex-spouse.
Enter ICE. Standing for “In Case of Emergency,” by programming in “ICE” by the person’s name, first responders will know immediately who to contact. At a moment when there is no time to spare, immediate access to the right person has the potential to assist in a variety of circumstances.
There are alternatives, of course. For example, there is the National Next of Kin Registry, which began operation in January 2004. The Department of Homeland Security recommends its own emergency preparedness site, www.ready.gov. This site provides a “family contingency plan” sheet, which includes a wallet-size card upon which important numbers can be placed.
However, there are several nice features with ICE. First, of course, it’s free, both from an implementation standpoint as well as a maintenance standpoint. Further, it may be implemented easily, merely through public awareness. There is no special skill set necessary for the public. If you have a cell phone, you have ICE.
In an increasingly complex and dangerous world, we are more and more concerned with ensuring that we have planned ahead in the event of disaster. ICE can certainly be a part of that planning, painlessly. I’d like to see the public-safety community embrace this effort. It seems like a no brainer. CTIA has been quoted as being supportive, and this seems to be a good opportunity for the public-safety community to have some sense of healing with the cellular industry after a wrenching number of years arguing over interference. I’ve already seen some positive chatter among some local public safety groups, and let’s hope it continues.
Simple, effective, cost-free. Don’t you wish you had thought of this?
Alan Tilles is counsel to numerous entities in the private radio, Internet and entertainment industries. He is a partner in the law firm of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.