What does I.C.E. Stand for in your World? -

What does I.C.E. Stand for in your World?

About a week ago, I was speaking with my mother who asked me if I use the “acronym ICE” (Brotchie, 2015) on my phone. I told her I did not. She said that she uses it “in case of emergency” (Brotchie, 2015) so that anyone could access information for emergency purposes. I thought, “Hmm, this is interesting” and began researching it.

ICE was created by Bob Brotchie, a former paramedic, after experiencing a car accident whereby he was unable to offer information about himself. He had the brainstorm for the idea after this experience and decided it should be a worldwide initiative (Brotchie, 2015).

The idea is that a person can put the letters ICE in front of a contact person’s name in a cell phone that is identified as an emergency contact that rescue personnel or law enforcement can call in the event of a crisis. Emergency personnel would need to be on board with the system to know to look for ICE. There is a catch to the system as well. If a person happens to be someone that uses a pass code to access the phone, then putting ICE with a contact in the address book of the phone won’t matter.  There are many other options such as ICE wallet cards, ICE forms to fill out and leave on a refrigerator at home, ICE jewelry, and ICE key tags.

No matter how you look at it though, this concept is a forward thinking idea to use in a world that is digitally driven. We carry digital wallets, music, and photos, so why not an easy way to identify a key contact person who can provide important information that cannot be relayed otherwise and that may make the difference between a life or death situation? This made me think, as well, about the organ donor symbol of a heart on my driver’s license. Perhaps a way to add a symbol, or even the letters, for ICE on my license would let rescuers know that I have contact information either on a phone, in the glove box of my car, in my wallet, or on a piece of jewelry I am wearing. ICE can certainly be applied to any of these options and would be highly beneficial.

How about you? Would you want your loved ones to know if you had a serious illness or accident? Would you want a loved one called to meet you at the hospital? I know I do! It makes sense to me, especially as a person with significant allergies. Safety options do not necessarily have to be grandiose, they just need to be effective. ICE is an easy tool to use to make one’s life a little bit safer in the event of an emergency.

ICE originated in the United Kingdom and has been presented to such notables as Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal in 2006 (Brotchie, 2015). In the United States, ICE stands for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. This could be an issue when wanting to nationalize this safety measure, but never-the-less, it is gaining ground through word of mouth. Online searches have yet to reveal the standard use of ICE on a base cell phone set up. My question is, “Why”? It seems like it should be a standard option that shows up at the top of the address book. Instead, consumers need to download an app to have information located in a phone for emergency use. Perhaps the future will change this and it will become standard as safety becomes more important when on the go. After all, we do live in a volatile world that has, let’s face it, episodes of unexpected violence across the globe.  Travelers are especially vulnerable and should have some sort of program that provides information in case an emergency happens. Medical Alert jewelry is available, but not always used, but there are companies out there that promote the use of the letters ICE on medical jewelry.  Universal Medical Data, LLC sites the use of ICE on medical jewelry as a means of identifying that an emergency contact person is listed on the person’s file (Universal Medical Data, 2013). Cell phones still seem to be the largest venue to promote the option to use emergency identification though. In fact, an article by Aaron Smith at Pew Research Center indicates that “nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone” (Smith, 2015) which is significant as this statistic is only related to one country! Can you imagine if each person that owned a cell phone used the ICE identification system how much easier it would be for emergency personnel to identify a person in distress and contact family?

This is a necessary and much needed tool that is more important in today’s fast paced and digitalized world than even Mr. Brotchie may have envisioned. It is obvious that a large portion of individuals own a phone, so what better way to promote self-safety than with the use of ICE? I have certainly reassessed the use of the idea on my own phone and plan to share this with the rest of my family and with my friends.  It is as important to me as having that heart on my driver’s license indicating I am an organ donor. So, have you changed your mind and reconsidered using ICE on your own phone? I hope so!



Brotchie, Bob. (2015). About “In Case of Emergency”. WordPress.com. Retrieved from http://incaseofemergency.org/#comment-2132. Accessed June 2, 2015.

Smith, Aaron. (2015). U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015. Pew Research Center, April 1, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015. Accessed June 2, 2015.

Universal Medical Data, LLC. (2013). What do I engrave on my Medical ID bracelet?. Posted September 3, 2013. Retrieved from http://blog.universalmedicaldata.com/archives/tag/medical-id-alert-bracelets. Accessed June 2, 2015.


  1. Avatar
    Rachel V K
    October 30, 2016 17:42 Reply

    I found your article very informative and interesting. I had been looking up ICE on Google, since it was a built-in choice for the groups on my phone. I suspected the definition, but I wanted to be sure. Since I didn’t use the group, I was also looking for information on how to delete it. Thank you for clarifying the meaning and the purpose of ICE, as well as giving some background on its use. Because of your article, I realize the potential importance of using this category. I will now be labeling a few names and numbers ICE.

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