In Case of Emergency

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For the television series, see In Case of Emergency (TV series).

In Case of Emergency (ICE) is a programme that enables first responders, such as paramedics, firefighters, and police officers, as well as hospital personnel, to contact the next of kin of the owner of a working mobile phone to obtain important medical or support information. The phone entry or entries are intended to supplement or complement written information in a wallet or on a marked bracelet or necklace.

The programme was conceived in 2004 by Bob Brotchie, a British paramedic, and ICE was subsequently promoted by Brotchie from May 2005.[1] It encourages people to enter emergency contacts in their mobile phone address book under the name "ICE", or multiple contacts as "ICE1", "ICE2", etc.


Following research carried out by Vodafone that showed that fewer than 25% of people carry any details of who they would like telephoned following a serious accident,[citation needed] a campaign encouraging people to do this was started in May 2005 by Bob Brotchie, a paramedic in the East Anglia Ambulance Service. The idea has taken off since 7 July 2005 London bombings.[2]

When interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on 12 July 2005, Brotchie said:

I was reflecting on some difficult calls I've attended, where people were unable to speak to me through injury or illness and we were unable to find out who they were. I discovered that many people, obviously, carry mobile phones and we were using them to discover who they were. It occurred to me that if we had a uniform approach to searching inside a mobile phone for an emergency contact then that would make it easier for everyone.[2]

Brotchie also urged mobile phone manufacturers to support the campaign by adding an ICE heading to phone number lists of all new mobile phones.[2]

In Germany, the concept has been criticised by the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Deutschland (Workers' Samaritan Federation) as medical personnel often do not have time to contact relatives, and contacting the relatives of an injured person is a sensitive task not carried out by telephone.[3]

Locked phones[edit]

For security purposes, many mobile phone owners now lock their mobiles, requiring a passcode to be entered in order to access the device. This hinders the ability of first responders to access the ICE phone list entry.

In response to this problem, many device manufacturers have provided a mechanism to specify some text to be displayed while the mobile is in the locked state, such as an ICE contact and also a "Lost and Found" (LAF) contact. For example, BlackBerry 10 mobiles permit ICE and LAF information to be displayed on the "locked" screen so it is directly available for use by the emergency services. Alternatively, some manufacturer's handsets [4][example needed] provide access to a list of ICE contacts from the "locked" screen.

Some types of handsets require a smartphone application to be loaded, to allow ICE and emergency information to be displayed on the "locked" screen. For instance, the Health application for iOS devices allows users to create an 'emergency card' which shows an emergency contact and selected medical information (such as medications taken and allergies) and is accessible from the lock screen.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bob's idea has global impact". Cambridge Evening News. 23 December 2005. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Mobiles 999 contact idea spreads". BBC News. 12 July 2005. Retrieved 11 July 2008. 
  3. ^ "Private Notfallnummern (ICE) im Mobiltelefon: Richtigstellung des Arbeiter-Samariter-Bundes" (in German). 26 August 2009. Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Adding medical and emergency contact information – Sony Xperia™ Z3 Compact support (United Kingdom)". Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  5. ^ "iOS 9 – Health – Apple". Apple Inc. Retrieved 21 November 2015. 

External links[edit]