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Programme Your Cell Phone to I-C-E (In Case of Emergency)

Updated on May 22, 2018
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I love to share the experience I have gained over three quarters of a century, be it useful tips, love, jokes or technology.

I-C-E stands for "In Case of Emergency" - Make Sure it's on your Mobile Phone!

What if you had been caught up in a terrorist bomb attack like the ones on the Moscow Metro or London Underground? Did you know you can Programme Your Cell Phone to call your family to summon Life-Saving Urgent Help?

I wish I had known that when I was caught up in the four bomb attacks in London on 7th July 2005.

What if your safety were threatened by a suicide bomber like the terrorist attack on the Moscow Metro on 29th March 2010 or London on 7th July 2005, or New York on 9/11, or the Boston April 2013 Marathon, or if you were to collapse, or suffer the threat of rape, assault or injury, or there were some other kind of emergency like being trapped in a lift or underground, or cornered by a dangerous dog.

In Case of Emergency - ICE


A Scream is Not the Answer When There is an Emergency

A scream might attract attention, but summoning help on your mobile phone might make the difference between getting help from the police, fire services or a doctor urgently or lying unconscious in a puddle of blood until you are found.

This is the story of why I have ICE on my mobile phone


Kings Cross Station on the Morning of 7/7 - the day the bombs went off in London in 2005

King's Cross Station, London July 7th 2005

I was actually there at Kings Cross Station on 7/7 - England's 9/ll - when the Muslim terrorist bomb went off

I didn't hear it, but I was shopping at Boots the Chemist, one of the station's many shops, when I noticed a huge number of people pouring out of the escalators. I knew instantly that something was wrong, as I had been caught up in bomb scares before, and had always been nervous at Kings Cross Station since the big fire there a few years previously. I dropped what I was buying and ran outside to catch a bus quickly before the crowds came, and it was then that I spotted the first ambulances and police cars arriving. It was just before 9.00 am.

My bus moved off immediately, the last bus permitted to park directly outside the station, and through the window I watched the crowd grow ominously. Difficult to know if it was a bomb scare, or another fire, like the fireball holocaust a few years earlier, when an escalator caught fire.

Photograph: Kings Cross Station after the Bomb blast on 7th July 2005

This Was Not My First Bomb Scare on the Underground

photo attributed to Fair - Freedom Fighters (or, as we would say, Terrorists) Unite!
photo attributed to Fair - Freedom Fighters (or, as we would say, Terrorists) Unite!

The previous bomb scare was the work of IRA Terrorists

I had been in a bomb scare at Oxford Street Station on the London underground before, in 1992 -

The feeling of panic is overwhelming, you feel the adrenalin surge in your blood, and the fight-or-flight instinct takes over. I have never been out of a station so quickly as I was that first time, when I was also trying to protect my daughter who was pregnant.

The normal passageway and stairs were blocked solid with people, and there was no way of knowing which route to take to get to the surface, and people were getting lost, threshing around and running about like ants in opposite directions.

Pushing and shoving, and dragging my daughter by the hand, we reached the surface and out into Oxford Street in record time, but she told me later that all the blood had drained from my face, and I was as white as a sheet and looked as though I was about to collapse.

The Piccadilly Line, 9.25 a.m on 7/7

Somewhere between London Underground stations Russell Square and King's Cross

By 9.25 am on 7/7, I had reached my office and someone at Reception said that a bomb had gone off on the Piccadilly Line between Russell Square and King's Cross.

That was my usual route to work, and if I had not chosen in a moment of serendipity to travel overground that day, I might well have been on that train.

Listening to the news, it took a few minutes before we learned that there had also been bombs near Liverpool Street and Edgware Road.

Then at 9.47 am we heard a single faint bang

It sounded as though someone had dropped something metal nearby, but in fact it was the bomb blast on the No. 34 bus at Tavistock Square, a few streets away.

The 34 Bus at Tavistock Square, London on 7th July 2005

Bus Bomb in Tavistock Square 7/7/05 - I heard it from my office nearby
Bus Bomb in Tavistock Square 7/7/05 - I heard it from my office nearby

Mobile Phone Network Shut Down

By 9.30 a.m it was impossible to get through to my family

I felt very anxious and tried to call my children on their mobile phones to tell them I was all right, but I couldn't get through. I couldn't settle at work, and kept trying to ring them.

I thought the problem was simply that too many other people were doing the same thing and overloading the system.

Days later we discovered that the whole mobile network had actually been closed down for several hours as a safety measure, in order to prevent terrorists from using cell phones to detonate more bombs remotely.

I Hadn't Even Thought About Ringing my Partner, Because he Was Aay in Bulgaria

Main square in Varna
Main square in Varna | Source

But What I Didn't Realize is That Bulgaria Received the News Story at About the Same Time That We Were Getting the Details in England

And of course he was freaking out when he couldn't contact me for several hours. As with 9/11, news spread exponentially, with everyone phoning each other to listen to the news and watch the television.

Telephones were a vital part of the news process.

I-C-E Campaign - Storing Personal Details on Mobile Phones in Case of Emergency

Shortly after these frightening London bomb attacks, there was a campaign to encourage people to store their personal details on their mobile phones to help identify victims of accidents and disasters. A friend told me about the ICE - In Case of Emergency - number which could be entered onto your mobile phone.

The idea is simple:

To quote Wikipedia: "We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends. If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call."

This gave rise to the "ICE" Campaign

In Case of Emergency, store important contacts under the name "ICE"

It is a method of contact during emergency situations.

You simply store the phone number of the people who should be contacted during emergency under the name "ICE" (for more than one contact name you would simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.).

The idea was thought up by an East Anglian Ambulance Service paramedic Bob Brotchie who realized when attending accidents that patients nearly always had their mobile phones but if they were unable to speak, no-one knew who to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea to have a uniform approach to searching inside a mobile phone for an emergency contact and that it would be easier for everyone if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose.

This was taken up and ICE was born. It was so successful that it has spread to the USA, Australia, Canada and other countries.

Mobile phone manufacturers have been urged to add ICE headings to phones before they are sold.

Disaster Strikes Unexpectedly 5 Years Later!

Of its own volition (I swear!), my mobile phone tested the ICE facility

Some five years after setting up ICE on my mobile phone, on 19th February 2010, my phone suddenly started to play up. I was trying to make a call but when I pressed the Contacts and Menu buttons, they were dead, and nothing happened. I tried pushing knobs and buttons indiscriminately, as you do, and the phone unexpectedly shut down of its own accord.

I started it up again, and it was working perfectly.

Five minutes later I received a panicky call from my son asking me what was the matter as he had received a message saying I needed help. My matter-of-fact voice convinced him that I knew nothing about this, and he cut me short telling me to ring my daughter quickly as she was already out in her car with my grandson, looking for me and had already told my partner and the police that I was in some kind of urgent trouble.

I rang her and she was clearly very upset, thinking I had collapsed or been knocked over, and said that she had received three texts and a phone message saying I needed help urgently.

I then called my partner, who had already spoken to the police, who he told me were on their way round.

Then, before I could even rush home, the police spoke to me twice on the phone to find out whether I was all right. I assured them I was, and explained about ICE, and they were very kind and nice about it.

But I Still Don't Know What Happened, and Why my Phone Automatically and of its Own Accord Sent Out Urgent Messages to All my Family

I think it may be set up so that if no other calls are permitted, I can just press a button several times and an automatic message will be touched off and go to all necessary people. But what and how, I know not.

And of course, if a real emergency does ever arise, I just hope they don't think I'm crying wolf.

It's a Scary Feeling When There's Been an Emergency - And You Are Out of Touch With Your Loved Ones

Mock Bomb Designed by John Parker
Mock Bomb Designed by John Parker | Source

Take This Poll to See How You Measure up Against the Other Pollsters

Have you ever been caught up in an emergency where you needed to contact family or police??

See results

A Detailed Description of the 7/7 London Bombings - YouTube Video

Remember to add ICE to your mobile phone -

it might save your life

Remind your friends too

Have you got ICE on your cell phone? Do you think it's a good idea? Do any of you know what could have happened to my cell phone from a technological point of

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You have certainly been in some scary situations. I do have contact numbers on my phone, but not in case of emergency. Will get right on this and let my family members know I'm adding them to UCE. What a great lens.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Margaret Schindel: But I still hope you never have to use it!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      This is such important information for everyone to know! It was my husband who told me about adding ICE contacts to my mobile phone and I've breathed a lot easier ever since, knowing that in case of an emergency someone would know whom to contact. Thanks so much for spreading the word!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      @renewedfaith2day: I hope you never need it, but always best to be on the safe side!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I live a few miles from the city of West, Texas. You never know when a device such as this will be needed. Thank you for the info.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      ICE is the frist thing I put on my mobile - and on the tablet that I carry.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      When I first saw the title of this lens, I thought, "Why would I program Immigration and Customs Enforcement into my cell phone?" Then I remembered from which side of the Atlantic you hail. Catchy title :-> . Interesting (and a bit scary) lens.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Yes, I've got ICE numbers on my mobile phone. I've promoted the scheme in a book I am publishing later this year, along with other schemes for information in emergency situations.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      It's a great idea, but I have discovered a proviso - if your phone isn't locked, and you bump it 4 times in a certain way, it sends off all the urgent messages without your realizing, and you get the family panicking and the police calling you - and if that happens more than once, people think you are crying wolf (like burglar alarms which keep going off when there are no burglars)

    • LisaDH profile image


      10 years ago

      I've never heard of ICE, but think it's a brilliant idea. I do have Home, Mom and Dad programmed into my phone, so someone could probably figure out those would be good numbers to dial, but it's a great idea to have a standard.

      And glad you made it through all those situations ok! :-)

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 

      11 years ago from Burbank, CA

      yes, I have ICE programmed into my phone!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      11 years ago from Iowa

      good information about something that was unknown to me. Thanks for creating this lens.


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