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He may have a warm heart, but he’s got ICE in his veins!

LOU community counsellor, Bob Brotchie prides himself for his empathetic and compassionate service provision. So, in what way does ICE help? Bob shares his innovative streak.

In my former life, as a paramedic traipsing the streets of Cambridge and countryside of East Anglia, England, I was destined, as most paramedics are, to search or create answers to the challenges my colleagues and I faced each day in attending everything from headaches to heartburn, childbirth to challenged psychological thinking, management of death and dying, trauma and tears!

In 2004, in fact, almost exactly ten years ago I was reflecting on a particularly traumatic road collision in Cambridge I had attended. I was overseeing the teams and services in operation to extricate a lady with multiple life-threatening injuries from her car.

She was essentially unconscious, save for the howls of pain, she was too ill to communicate or really understand what was happening, or what had happened.

Once the rescue was established and the casualty was about to be taken to Hospital, I tried to establish who she was. This is important!

  • If she arrives at hospital unidentified, she will be “PU – Patient Unknown”

  • This means some treatment critical to her survival may be withheld because the risks might outweigh the benefits. Then, she may be treated as a last resort with something that could cause greater harm.

  • Without the casualty’s previous medical history, the above can be a ‘killer!’

  • So, we need to identify her for her medical history, but also crucially, to notify her loved ones – her “next-of-kin”!

  • Many unconscious individuals may be hours without their family next to them at what may be their last moments, or while trying to recover!

I was becoming used to looking through mobile phone address/contacts where the phone was available, undamaged and unlocked – but frustratingly, rarely knew who to call!

I took a chance with the individual and called last number – it was her son, thank goodness! The lady and all her family were reunited within the hour while she was being resuscitated. I’m very pleased to share that she survived, albeit with life-changing injuries and we met up a year later for a press call.

So, I got to thinking, how can we make uniform, the contact information for those who carry a mobile phone, to emergency responders and ER staff, as another approach?

I came up with an acronym that I felt sure would already be in use, but that would fit the purpose.

ICE – In Case of Emergency.

My idea was that if mobile phone owners placed ICE in front of the agreed ‘contact’ for use in that rare event and circumstance, and if then if I could also educate paramedics and others to look for this when appropriate, we might have a free-of-choice, free-to-implement option that just might work!

I set about researching the acronym, ICE. Astounded, it seemed it wasn’t thought of or out there at this time!

I asked my ambulance press relations colleague, Matt Ware if he would also explore, via his network and as a result he got UK Mobile carrier Vodafone interested. Vodafone carried out polls and market research to establish if a need existed. They asked phone owners why they had a mobile phone. Most replied, “In case of emergency”!

Worth remembering that this was before the smartphone era. People actually, me included, wanted a mobile in case they had a car break-down, or some other untoward event. They even used them to talk to people, Lol!

It wasn’t until July 7th 2005 that ICE came of age. It had been ‘bubbling’ along with various levels of interest but the London terrorist attacks of that summer day brought a press and media angle that thrust it, the acronym and me into the global spotlight.

That year I travelled extensively promoting and representing ICE. Florida even had an ‘ICE Day!”

I did countless radio interviews, a number of TV interviews with the BBC, Channel 5 and was live across the US via CBS morning show!

Australian telecoms giant ‘Telstra’ sent out some 7 million SMS messages encouraging folk to “ICE their phones”. MP’s called for an ‘early day motion’ to support the methodology in the London Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and overseas.

For a decade now, I have been approached on a daily or weekly basis by others wanting to provide a ‘spin-off’. I have supported and consulted with many entrepreneurs to bring alternative solutions. Some have lasted, usually ‘low-tech’, many have fallen by the wayside. But ICE, free-to-do, has endured and it is now thought that the acronym exists in literally millions of cells/mobiles around the world.

Bob pictured with Simon Weston OBE, Falkland’s War Veteran

Some Frequently Asked Questions!

How much did I make out of it? - Zilch! It was never meant to be a source of attracting revenue, and no one has yet come up with a successful way to commercialise it. However, I do get to travel ‘expenses paid’ and continue to meet very interesting people. Two trips to San Francisco and the ‘Tech Crunch’ expos were amazing, as were the other trips to New York – New York, Miami, Hartford Connecticut, and various others.

Have I patented ICE? - No, it cannot be patented. Though I did spend about a year investigating that!

What if your phone is locked? - This was a choice for the owner in 2005. Now, there are many ways to overcome this. ICE apps, creating your own photo wallpaper, stickers – heck, carry a card!

My Goal

No one has to carry a means to be identified in case of emergency. My goal has always been to encourage awareness of the possibility, so that ever so rare event and circumstance can be considered. It might even get your mobile returned to you if you lose it, had that feedback recently!

For more, Google search “Bob Brotchie ICE”; it even has its own “Wiki”!


Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, life coach and creator of Conscious Living by Design. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to clients in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for international clients around the world. The therapeutic models offered, are bespoke to the client’s needs whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).

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