ICE Campaign: Protect yourself in a medical emergency


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An ambulance screeches to a halt at the entrance of the University of Iowa Hospital's Emergency Department. A 20-year-old college student is pulled out from the ambulance and rushed into the emergency department as health-care professionals sprint to the patient.

As the emergency-room doctor runs in, he yells, "Do we have a name on this patient? Have we contacted the family?" Unfortunately, this 20-year-old is unconscious and unable to provide any information to the health-care providers.

Think about it. If you were the patient in this situation, how would first-responders or emergency-care providers contact your family or care givers? As of 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that 1.6 million emergency-room patients could not provide contact information because of some sort of impairment.

There is a solution to this problem. "In Case of Emergency" is an application that can be easily programmed into your cell phone to include important information in the event that an emergency or accident would happen to you.

Although the campaign is just gaining publicity in the United States, it has proven successful in the United Kingdom since 2005. Paramedic Bob Brotchie began the campaign in May 2005, and it began to receive wide attention after the London terrorist bombings, on July 7, 2005. Working as a paramedic, Brotchie understood the importance of having all necessary medical information at the time of an emergency, rather than hours later. The campaign was initiated to create an international symbol that could be used for this purpose.

If you do not have a smart phone, you can program your cell phone with the acronym ICE in your contact list, followed by the names and phone numbers of those whom you wish to be notified in an emergency.

Also, with the increasing emergence of smart phones, the applications are becoming available for download, allowing pertinent medical information and emergency contacts to be stored conveniently in your cellular devices. This information may include allergies, major medical conditions, medical-insurance information, current medications, and past medical procedures.

Having this information readily available to emergency personnel allows for improved safety with the delivery of medical care and saves hours of searching for medical information when no one is available to communicate it. Downloading the application is simple. All you have to do is search for the application in your iPhone store or Android market. There are a variety of applications available for download, each with varying components. Choose the application that best fits your needs.

Now is the time to act. Talk with family members or friends that you would like to include as your contacts. Teach them about the initiative, and help them store this vital information in their phones as well. Don't assume that accidents only happen to other people. The fact is, anything can happen to any of us, so we must be prepared. Program your contacts, download your application, and protect yourself in case of an emergency.

This editorial is provided by Larissa Buelow, Hannah Dunn, Stephanie Johnson, Michelle McNeil, Jessica Rhode, Hannah Swanson, and Stephany Walk are seniors at the UI College of Nursing. Their goal is to help promote improved safety and quality of emergency care.

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