The ICE Man Forwardeth
Date Added: July 27, 2005
Current events - particularly tragic events - are often the motivation behind many urban legends. In this case, the London transit bombings of July 7, 2005, thrust into the spotlight a bit of news that had been around (but mostly ignored) for several months. The instant extreme popularity of this chain letter resulted in another chain letter warning against doing what the first one advised. Confused? Read on.
Sent: Friday, July 08, 2005
Following the disaster in London . . .
East Anglian Ambulance Service have launched a national "In case of Emergency ( ICE ) " campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon Weston.
The idea is that you store the word " I C E " in your mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency".
In an emergency situation ambulance and hospital staff will then be able to quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them. It's so simple that everyone can do it. Please do.
Please will you also email this to everybody in your address book, it won't take too many 'forwards' before everybody will know about this. It really could save your life, or put a loved one's mind at rest.
For more than one contact name ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc.
On April 20, 2005, more than two months prior to the July 7 terrorist attacks on public transportation in London, the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust announced a national campaign with Vodafone, a mobile phone service provider, to encourage the latter's customers to add an entry to their phone's address book that would tell rescue workers whom to contact in case of emergency.
From the East Anglian news release:
"Bob Brotchie, a clinical team leader for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, hatched the plan last year after struggling to get contact details from shocked or injured patients.
"By entering the acronym ICE – for In Case of Emergency – into the mobile’s phone book, users can log the name and number of someone who should be contacted in an emergency.
"The idea follows research carried out by Vodafone that shows more than 75 per cent of people carry no details of who they would like telephoned following a serious accident.
"The campaign was launched this week by Bob and Falklands war hero Simon Weston in association with Vodafone’s annual Life Savers Awards.
"The campaign is also asking people to think carefully about who will be their ICE partner - with helpful advice on who to choose - particularly if that person has to give consent for emergency medical treatment.
"Bob hopes that all emergency services will promote ICE in their area as part of a national awareness campaign to highlight the importance of carrying next of kin details at all times."
The proposal got a pretty cool reception until the terrorist attacks on London demonstrated to the world the difficulties rescue workers may face in a disaster. Suddenly, the summary of the ICE plan shown above started circulating, not just in London, but worldwide. Within a day or two of that chain's explosion, however, rumors began flying that the ICE advisory might not be the helpful tidbit it appears to be, but rather part of an insidious plot:
Beware of ICE
Many people have received emails about the ICE system. It is alleged that, following the disaster in London, East Anglian Ambulance Service have launched a national "In case of Emergency ( ICE ) " campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon Weston. The idea is that people store the word " I C E " in their mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person they would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency". The Trust has now been informed that this is not only a hoax, but a means of planting a virus in mobile 'phones which when activated causes the user to pay for calls they have not made.
In view of the interest in the system we said we would look further into it. Out advice now is if you have put ICE into your mobile phone you should permanently delete it.
It is possible that this warning results of someone misrembering an earlier hoax that warned about answering calls coming from a number that shows up on the screen as "ACE." It's also just as likely that the ICE warning was crafted to discredit the advice. But the ICE advice is sound and the warning about an associated virus a complet hoax. From the Anti-virus experts at McAfee:
"McAfee AVERT Labs would like to inform you of an email HOAX.
"This hoax has been forwarded due to misinformation related to I.C.E.. I.C.E. is an emergency contact system in the U.K., "In Case of Emergency", where people are encouraged to make a cell-phone address-book entry with their emergency contact information. This is to facilitate emergency medical technicians in contacting next of kin or to identify people.
"We are advising users who receive the email to delete it and DO NOT pass it on as this is how an email HOAX propagates."
As of this writing, there is no known mobile phone virus that can search an address book for a specific entry and then use that entry to compromise your phone. Matt Ware, a spokesperson for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust injects a little common sense into this theory:
"If it were possible for someone to search your mobile's address book (which it isn't) then they would currently be doing it using keywords such as mum, dad or home."
ICE is a legitimate idea, and safe. According to the Washington Post, at least two major U.S. rescue services are considering implementing similar programs. But, hoaxsters aside, the idea isn't without its detractors. Critics argue that carrying emergency numbers on a slip of paper in your wallet or purse may be just as effective, but probably moreso, since it would be less susceptible to water, electrical interference and mechanical damage that would render a phone inoperable.
The lesson to glean is that it would be wise to provide some type of emergency contact on your person - in any form - in case of an emergency. We've seen that chain letters can quickly be used to misinform.
BreakTheChain.org recommends instead, relying on reliable web sites for this information and not passing on chain letters. Break this chain.
References: East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, McAfee, TruthOrFiction.com, Snopes.com, ParmedicUK, Washington Post