Do you have ICE in your cell phone?
More and more emergency workers are saying you should.
The movement to urge people to store ICE -- ''in case of emergency'' contact numbers -- in their cell phones has been catching on locally through support from police and fire agencies.
Barberton Fire Chief Kim Baldwin has been talking up the practice for the last few months. Soon the city fire department will send fliers to parents of Barberton schools' approximately 4,200 students, asking them to take the time to add the emergency contacts to their wireless address books.
''We didn't start it. Actually, it's an international movement,'' Baldwin said.
''I've heard that two out of three people have a cell phone. If that's the case, the ICE numbers would give us lots of vital information in an emergency to care for people who can't speak to us.''
The use of ICE as a universal shorthand in an emergency was reportedly the idea of a British paramedic who saw the need for a uniform way to contact loved ones of the injured and unconscious during the July 7 London subway bombings.
After the bombings, word of the ICE numbers started to spread to the United States through word of mouth and e-mail. Most proponents suggest programming ICE numbers into the phone followed by a name and the appropriate numbers. Many cell phone address books have space for home, work, cell, fax and e-mail information for each contact.
''On a call that would give us at least three numbers to call,'' said Dave Davis, a paramedic with the Norton Fire Department. ''Hopefully we'll never need them, but it's good to know they are there if we do.''
Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Laura Merritt said she has received an increasing number of calls about ICE numbers in the last few months.
''Certainly it's a good idea, particularly if you consider the simplicity of the process,'' Merritt said. ''It's so easy to do and would take a person probably under a minute to add the information.''
Some advocates would like to see the wireless providers program the ICE header into cell phones before they are sold.
Merritt said Verizon Wireless will wait for law enforcement and the wireless industry to reach a consensus on whether ICE or the alternately used ''emergency contact'' header is the preferred designation.
''We don't want to end up telling people to do something law enforcement recommends be done in a different way,'' Merritt said. ''It's great word is getting out that there is a quick and easy way to make sure people you want contacted in an emergency can be found.
''We're going to wait and see what safety officials suggest and support that,'' Merritt said. ''And while we like to have consistency and uniformity, it doesn't hurt for people to do something while we're waiting.''
Distributed by the Associated Press