Effective ICE Contacts

My family bought our first cell phone – “for the family” – in the early 1990s.   It was roughly the size of our smaller cat; the battery alone outweighs my current phone.  And actually using that original cell phone?  Emergencies only!  Quick emergencies only!  Quite the opposite of my current life, in which my phone is where I check and send emails and text messages, find recipes online while at the grocery store, ask “The Goog” pressing questions, get directions, play games, study for the GRE, and yes, make the occasional call.  Despite all of its fancy tricks, emergency calls remain its most basic and most important function. 


I’m going to try not to get overly dramatic, but the most important thing your cell phone can do is aid you in an emergency.  Whether it’s a life-saving call to 911 or a call to a contact during a rough situation or medical info stored in notes; your cell phone can help big time.  If you do not already have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact stored in your phone, do it.  Do it now


Two weekends ago, some of my friends came over for whoopie pies, beer, and pizza – in that order, thanks.  ICE contacts came up.  The friend sitting next to me mentioned she didn’t have one in her phone and asked if I minded if she stuck me in there.  She did it right then.  I am a logical choice: I have a car, we have sets of keys to each other’s apartments, and I’m pretty reliable and can generally make myself available quickly. 


Four nights ago, my phone rang at 3:21am.  Caller id told me it was Friend’s phone, but it wasn’t Friend’s voice on the other end.  Your friend is bleeding all over the place; you need to get here now.  Friend had been assaulted on a well-lit and well-populated street.  We do live in the big city, but we live in a good part of that big city and she was just a couple of blocks from home.  Thank God some girls stopped to help and Friend told them to call me, to call her ICE contact.  They called, I came.  They gave me the location information I needed, made sure an ambulance had been called, and called me back to tell me said ambulance was on its way.  These girls didn’t have to stop, but I am so grateful that they did – and that they knew what to do.  It was a bad situation, being managed as well as possible.


I got to Friend quickly; I almost beat that ambulance.  However, the experience made me realize how poorly I picked my own ICE contacts. Two live almost 500 miles away; the other rotates between 700 and 1700 miles.  None of them have keys to my apartment.  They know varying levels of information about my medical history and preferences.  I’m pretty sure at least one of them knows what medication I’m allergic to and two could probably name my blood type.  However, none know the name or dosage of either of the medications I take.  I made some changes; there’s plenty of time for that sort of activity in an emergency room waiting room.


Friend is okay.  She’s a strong woman and absolutely could have handled the situation herself; I have no doubt about that.  But, there was no reason for her to have to handle everything herself. 


Tips for Picking an Effective ICE

– Someone who lives near you.  This person can contact your faraway family.

– Someone who can get to you quickly – both in terms of transportation and lifestyle

– Someone you trust with your medical info.

– Someone organized and stable, in an emergency allow this person to be your advocate.

– Someone who is somewhat aware of patient rights and will press for yours. 


Information to Give Your ICE Contacts

My phone also allows me to input emergency notes, another feature I updated based on recent experience. 

– Preferred hospital, if you have one.

– Internist/GP name and contact info.  (Or any other doctor you see regularly.)

– Medications.  What you take, dosage, how often, and when.  Also, any medication allergies.

– Basic Statistical Info.  I listed blood type, weight, and date of birth. 

– Insurance Provider.  I did not list my policy number, just the provider and policy type.

– Organ Donor.

– If applicable, include any chronic conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy) and relevant allergies (e.g., food, latex)


– As a nanny, I also included a note with my charges’ first names (identified by hair color), date of birth, parents names and cell numbers, weight, and allergies.  For privacy and relevancy reasons, I did not list as much information about them as I did on myself.  Were they my children, I would.


I also sent my ICE contacts each other’s phone numbers, my family’s phone numbers, and phone numbers for back-ups.  It’s one of those things that I hope never comes into play, but I feel much better knowing that I’m better off if it ever does.


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