‘In case of Emergency’ conflict

I received an email sometime back to setup contacts with the names ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc on my cellphone. This stands for ‘In Case of Emergency’ and can be used by rescuers to call my near and dear ones in case I am involved in an accident. This makes emergency contacts easy to identify – many people for example normally save their spouse’s name not under ‘Wife’ but under her name for example.

I first thought this might be some new idea drummed up by someone, and not really well known. However, I found the concept on Wikipedia, which convinced me to its legitimacy.


I decided then to setup these ICE contacts – I created a new contact with my wife’s number, but with the name ICE. I did the same with a couple of other close contacts that could be used in case by wife isnt close to the phone.

However, as a side effect of this, whenever I got a call from my wife, the cellphone stopped displaying the contact name – rather it would show only the number. I guessed this must be happening because the software finds two different contacts for the same number – and gets confused. I was surprised that the software makers did not include a simple piece of code which would display any one (or the first one) of the two contacts found.

Obvious solution was to store wife’s number only once – and that too with ICE name, and use that also for everyday calls. Another way was to rename the existing contact – if my wife’s name is Tara, I can name the contact as ‘ICE Tara’ or ‘ICE Wife’. Both were unacceptable to me – I was looking for a more elegant solution.

A couple of days later, the answer came to me: on the ICE contact, add a ‘1’ at the end of the phone number. For example, if the area code is 423 and phone number is 512345 then store it as 4235123451. You an use any other digit also in stead of 1. Thats it!

Why does this work? Mobile phones do matching from the right side when a call is received. Hence, it would recognize Tara, but fail to match ICE. What happens then if you call the ICE number? No problemo, the call goes through because telephone networks ignore any digits after the number!


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