LA GRANGE – Calling it a simple step that could make a life or death difference during an emergency, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a statewide initiative to encourage Illinoisans to save “In Case of Emergency” entries in their personal cell phones under the acronym “ICE”. That information could be accessed by emergency personnel at an accident scene or in the hospital emergency room to contact a family member or friend, who could provide potentially life-saving medical details about the incapacitated victim.
Gov. Blagojevich also directed all state emergency personnel to look for ICE numbers when helping individuals who are unconscious or otherwise unable to provide personal information. He encouraged local police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), hospital personnel and other emergency workers to do the same.
Joined by police and fire personnel at the Pleasantview Fire Protection District headquarters in LaGrange Highlands, Blagojevich said, “Cell phones have become extremely common – everyone from school-aged children, to busy parents and business people, to senior citizens carry phones most of the time. But many cell phone users aren’t aware of the fact that their phones can be used to provide critical contact information that could help save their life in an emergency situation. Today I’m asking everyone with cell phones to take a few minutes to put their ICE information into their phones. I’m also directing all our state’s emergency personnel to look for this information when victims can’t provide it themselves.”
The governor also announced that Sprint Nextel and Cellular One are joining with the state to promote ICE through a variety of ways, such as including information about the ICE program in customer invoices and promoting the program on their websites.
“When seconds matter, having ICE contacts in your wireless phone may mean the difference between life and death,” said J.W. Penland, Sprint Nextel's Area Vice President. “Doing this could mean that an EMT can quickly find out from loved ones what medications you are allergic to or ensure that someone is waiting at the hospital for you when you arrive. It will help first responders help us when we are unable to speak for ourselves. We are proud to join with the Governor in supporting this important initiative.”
The ICE idea was started by a London paramedic to deal with a long-standing problem encountered by emergency workers -- how to contact relatives or other interested parties for a victim who is unconscious, unable to respond to questions or deceased. British cell phone users were urged to put the ICE numbers into their cell phone address books before the name of the person they want contacted if they are ever incapacitated. Cell phone users can easily create entries such as “ICE – Mom” or “ICE – Katie” to let emergency workers know quickly who to contact if they are unable to communicate. Additional emergency contacts can be listed by simply noting ICE1, ICE 2, etc.
In the wake of the London bombings, word is spreading quickly over the Internet on a grassroots basis and in news reports, but no state has officially launched a program until today.
Attending the event were State Fire Marshal J.T. Somer, Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent and Illinois State Tollway Authority Chief of Staff Marilyn Johnson. At the event, each displayed the ICE entry in their cell phones.
Gov. Blagojevich announced that beginning today, roadside signs maintained by the Illinois State Tollway Authority and the Illinois Department of Transportation roadside will flash reminders to motorists to add ICE information to their cell phones.
“As a firefighter, there were many times when I responded to an accident or fire scene where the victim was unconscious or unable to provide vital personal information,” said Somer. “Most people don’t carry their medical or emergency contact information with them at all times. But nowadays, most people take their cell phone with them wherever they go, making it the perfect tool for accessing emergency contact information.”
“It’s a no cost, easy safety plan everyone with a cell phone can participate in right now,” said Trent. “Paramedics, police and firefighters often lose valuable time trying to figure out which name in a cell phone to call when disaster strikes. Also, many people identify family members by name in their cell, making them indistinguishable from other entries. We’re hoping Illinoisans will participate and ‘ICE’ their cell phone books today.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2003, over 900,000 emergency room patients could not provide contact information because they were incapacitated. The ICE initiative is available free to the 192 million cell phone users in the U.S.
The Governor also announced a new state web site, ice.illinois.gov
, which offers information about the new initiative.