\"ICE\" awareness among local EMS personnel
Jon Michael Riccitello
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‘ICE’ stands for ‘in case of emergency.’ The ICE concept is simply to have people program their emergency contact information into their cell phone contact list under the acronym ‘ICE.’ In this way rescuers on a scene can, if necessary, use the victim’s own phone to call for needed information or consent. But even if members of the public program their phones accordingly, the concept has no value if EMS providers do not utilize it. The purpose of this research project was to survey local EMS providers about their awareness, attitudes and usage of the ICE concept. After a brief presentation about the ICE program, a single-page anonymous survey was distributed to Galveston County EMS personnel during their periodic in-service training meetings. The survey asked each rescuer about his or her familiarity and experience with the ICE concept. Opinions about its utility were sought in a neutral manner. The data were collated and analyzed for trends. Overall, roughly half of rescuers surveyed were familiar with ICE, and almost all had positive attitudes towards using it in the field. Contrary to the intuitive sense that a “high-tech” procedure would appeal more to the young, ICE was significantly more well-received by older and more experienced rescuers. However, only one third of the personnel who knew of ICE had it programmed into their own cell phones, and fewer than 10% had ever utilized it on an emergency call. This discrepancy illustrates the gap between knowledge and action with respect to health behaviors as described by Diffusion of Innovations Theory. Only when ICE becomes an accepted standard, much like the medic alert bracelet, will the necessary collaboration between the public and EMS providers be established. The broader purpose of this study was to restart the conversation about ICE, either positive or negative, among service providers by putting forth the example from our small corner of the world. Once a consensus about the utility of ICE is reached among rescue personnel nationwide, a more informed choice can be made about whether or not it is worthwhile to further promote the concept to the public.