As an Emergency Medicine Physician, the more information I have, the better patient care I can give. It is very important to keep in mind that information you might not think is relevant could actually make a major difference in the emergency roomI highly encourage everyone to update their “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) settings on your mobile device.

When younger kids need to go the ER, there’s usually an adult present to answer for them, but as an independent adult, chances are you or your older children may be alone when an accident or medical situation happens. So it’s important to keep updated contact information in your phone as well as your family members, especially for your older family members.

What are ICE Emergency Contacts

ICE emergency contacts are the people you designate as emergency contacts in your phone in case of an emergency. If you are knocked unconscious in a car accident, experiencing a diabetic seizure, or dealing with any other medical situation that leaves you unable to communicate, the ICE emergency contacts in your phone lets responders and medical professionals know who to contact.

How to set up ICE Emergency Contacts

One way to add this information is to make a contact in your phone that is labeled “ICE” or “ICE – your emergency contact’s name”. This makes it easy to see who should be contacted if you were unconscious. You can have more than one contact, and can label them “ICE-1”, “ICE-2”, and so forth. If you have a smart phone, consider downloading an “ICE app”. Make sure the app you choose makes your emergency contact information available even if the phone is locked. If you have an iPhone, fill out the Medical ID located in the Health app. This lets you add emergency contact information, allergies, and blood type that medical professionals can access from the lock screen. Android also has an emergency contact feature in your phone’s settings.

Other more low-tech options include adding an ICE card to your wallet or purse, placing a label on the back of your mobile device, ICE tags that go on your bag or key chain, or an ICE bracelet.

What you include in your ICE information is important. I would have the following:

  • Your emergency contact’s name and their relationship to you (i.e mother, spouse)
  • Your emergency contact’s phone number
  • Your address
  • Your allergies
  • Any medical conditions
  • Medications you take
  • Blood type

I hope you never have to use this function. But I have had patients in situations where this made a huge difference in their care, and when minutes count, this information has saved lives.

Harvey Castro, MD

D Magazine ER Doctor of the Year 2014, 2015, 2016

Emergency Physician at Hospitality Emergency Room (Tyler & Longview Texas)