PLEASANT GROVE -- A senior has become confused. A teen is in an accident and unconscious. A middle-aged man has a heart attack in a public place. When emergency officials respond, they don't immediately know how to contact family members.
This is the problem solved by a new campaign to encourage people to ICE their cellphones. ICE stands for "In Case of Emergency." Adding "ICE_(name of emergency contact) into your cellphone directory allows emergency responders to immediately know who to call if you or someone you love is unresponsive in a crisis.
A Pleasant Grove company is stepping forward to help Utah Valley residents ICE their phones.
"It is not just for seniors," said Jim Ure, director of Visiting Angels of Utah County, a company which provides senior assistance at home. "It is also a great idea for parents to do with adolescents. If they are at an activity and are injured, or injured while driving, who do the paramedics call? This is something we are trying to get out into the community."
The ICE program solves a problem and costs nothing. The idea is the brainchild of a paramedic in Australia who recognized a need for a universal way to make it easier for emergency responders to contact the loved ones of anyone involved in an emergency.
Ideally, a phone with ICE contacts identified inside has a sticker outside, making it easy for emergency responders to know they can look up the ICE contact in the person's cellphone. Visiting Angels will provide ICE stickers for free to anyone who stops by their office, and their staff will even program the ICE contact into a cell phone for you, if you wish.
National officials said they hope the ICE program will become a universal emergency plan, a quick way for emergency responders to find family members.
"We urge families to ICE seniors' phones, or come by our offices and we will ICE seniors' phones for free," said Larry Meigs, CEO of Visiting Angels, in a statement. He said families need an emergency plan for seniors. "One family told us their elderly loved one with dementia roamed five miles from home. When police tried to help they had no clue who to call. ICE contacts help responders know who to call in emergencies."
The people whose names are entered under ICE in someone's phone should be aware they are an emergency contact. All their phone numbers should be included -- home, cell and work. It would be helpful if the emergency contact had information about medical conditions, medications, and doctor's names, especially for seniors.
For information on getting an ICE sticker for your phone, or the phones of family members or friends, call Visiting Angels of Utah County at (801) 785-0174.