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Put 'ICE' on Your Cell Phone

'ICE' Marks Your Contacts to Call in Case of Emergency
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 16, 2006 -- Got your cell phone
handy? Take a moment right now to put "ICE" by the names of the people you'd want called in case of emergency.

That's what "ICE" stands for -- "in case of emergency."

The point is to let rescue workers, police, or doctors check your cell phone and reach the people you would want contacted if you're in an accident or other emergency.

Most people don't have ICE on their cell phones, but they'll plug those letters into their cell phones once they learn why it's important, a new study shows.

The study will be presented today in New Orleans, at the 37th annual scientific assembly of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

The researchers included Dennis McKenna, MD, of New York's Albany Medical Center.

"We are often struggling to reach family members when a patient cannot speak to us, and the first place we might look is a cell phone," McKenna says, in an ACEP news release.

"A family member or friend is one of our best resources for learning about the patient's medical history," he explains.

"Our study shows that people are very willing to program their phones as long as someone tells them why and how to do it, or even does it for them," McKenna says.

ICE Info

McKenna's team gave surveys to 423 emergency department patients.

Most of the 285 patients with cell phones didn't know about ICE. Only 76 said they had heard of ICE and 26 said they had already put ICE in their cell phones.

Most of the patients who had their cell phones with them agreed to learn about ICE while in the emergency department.

Afterwards, 129 patients agreed to have ICE programmed into their cell phones while they were in the emergency department.

Some patients learned how to put ICE on their cell phones. The researchers offered to enter ICE into other patients' cell phones.

"Once a visitor is in the emergency department, we can make the most of his or her time by teaching something valuable," McKenna says.

"In the future, patients with ICE on their cell phone may help us give them the best possible treatment in a timely fashion," he adds.

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