Emergency phone code a good idea
My daughter in Washington, D.C., tells me that the police department there encourages people to record the first two numbers on their cell phones under the acronym of ICE -- "in case of emergency" -- with numbers to be called immediately if a person is involved in an accident or situation leaving them unable to verbally communicate. The police will look for their cell phone and call those ICE numbers. Is this also true in Hawaii or in all states?
Answer: There is no organized move to encourage this practice here, but it's one that appears to be gaining popularity in many jurisdictions.
The idea of having people designate an "ICE" person as an easily found point of contact in cell phones can be traced to paramedic Bob Brotchie in Great Britain. It began spreading worldwide via e-mail, news reports and word of mouth, escalating after the summer 2005 bombings in London.
The idea was brought up "a couple of years ago, and we had reservations about it then because of the connotations 'ice' has here" as a destructive drug, said Capt. Frank Fujii, spokesman for the Honolulu Police Department.
However, the positives seem to outweigh the negatives, and the practice is probably something worth encouraging, he said.
Both Fujii and Patricia Dukes, head of the city Emergency Medical Services Division, said anything that would help emergency response workers is welcomed.
"We encourage anybody to do anything that will help us over the course of their care with EMS," said Dukes. "However, our position is that we're not going to pull someone's cell phone up and start looking through it while we're taking care of the patient. Our priority is the patient."
Having a cell phone name would come in handy for those who have to contact family members, at the receiving hospital, for example, she said.
Another instance might be in the event of an accident involving many victims and it is not clear who a cell phone might belong to.
In that case, "we will make an attempt after the fact to contact somebody," Dukes said.
As far as Emergency Medical Services workers are concerned, what is most helpful is if people carry information on any medical conditions, such as a list of medications they might be taking or having a medical alert tag.
"Those are the kind of things that the paramedic looks for on a patient because it tells us immediately what's wrong with the patient and how we're going to treat them," Dukes said.
But again, "we encourage anything that people can do to help us provide for them better in the event that they're not able to speak for themselves," she said.
Meanwhile, Fujii also cautioned people to consider the consequences if they lost their cell phone and it got into the wrong hands.
So, "People should be very careful of what they input (into their cell phones)," he said.
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. See also: Useful phone numbers