WHO IS YOUR ‘ ICE’?

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ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE

Sometime in 2016, while waiting to board an Abuja-Lagos flight to Lagos where I was scheduled to deliver a paper on safer roads: the place of prompt rescue operations, I ran into a man in his late fifties whose story I wish to share with you today. According to Mr Brown Akpan(not real name)his tragedy began on a Saturday sometimes in 2015 when he and his three  children made up of his two sons and a daughter embarked on a journey from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory to Lagos to jointly assess a new home where they planned to relocate to start a new life without  his beloved wife who died through a road traffic crash  barely a year ago.

 Having lived in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory for over fifteen years before the loss of his wife, the choice to relocate was not the least easy but was necessary as he and his children could no longer stand life in the same city without the presence of his loving and caring wife. In the face of the increasing financial demands of catering for his three children without the wife who was a great support, they agreed to make the trip by road instead of flying in order to save cost.

On the day of the journey, they committed the trip to God as was the practice in his family and set out. The journey was indeed smooth and a soul lifter as a measure of life and laughter returned momentarily to the family as they tried to lift their spirits away from the depression that had enveloped the family since the death of his wife. At Lokoja, they pulled over for small refreshment before embarking on the long journey to Lagos. My eldest son who was driving, he told me, for reasons we all found strange chose to eat swallow which was not his usual choice for launch. After the meal which took us about 30minutes, we again continued on the supposedly smooth journey .Barely two hours I noticed that my son on the wheels was fatigued. I persuaded him to allow me continue or better still pull over for a small rest but he insisted he was fine and that it was the heaviness of the meal which he believed will wear off .Less that fifteen minutes after this, I heard a loud sound due to a tyre blowout and our car swerved off the road and crashed inside a ditch. I did not know what happened thereafter but only found myself in a hospital with a fractured leg. When I inquired after my children, I was told both my son who was driving and his twin sister bled to death and when they couldn’t find any ICE contacts in either my phone or my children’s, help came late. Eventually after helped arrived, it was difficult to contact any family member in the face of the tragedy.

 His tragedies brought to my memory the urgent need to address the issue of having a designated contact in our mobile phones .I recall I have severally stumbled on this same campaign in the social media and kept procrastinating until recently on the need to give it a focus on my column. This is how it is captured: we all carry mobile phones with names and numbers stored in its memory. If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending to us would have our mobile phones but wouldn’t know who to call. Yes there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this ‘ICE ’(In case of Emergency).The concept of ICE is a method of quick contact during emergency situations. All you need do is to store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name ‘ICE’. The idea was thought of by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scene of accidents there were always mobile phones with patients but they didn’t know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency personal and hospital staff or first responders will know about this. It could save lives or put a loved one’s mind at rest. So you can have ICE 1, ICE 2 and ICE 3.

Mr. Apkan confessed he had seen this severally but ignored it without knowing he will become a direct victim. If only there was one in his or children’s phone, maybe one life could have been saved. While I share the pain of Mr. Akpan, I must confess that there is a general attitude among motorists on this subject. Since the Federal Road Safety Corps came up with a three digit toll free emergency number-122, you will be shocked to know that a greater proportion of motorists even when they are told of the existence of this number, either doubt if its functional while others do not even border to save this number. Even when they do, you will be amazed that they rarely remember what the number is for. I know that as Zonal Commanding Officer in Port Harcourt, I make it a habit to circulate my official number to the motoring public every time I was privileged to be a guest on any of the Radio shows. 

Unfortunately, over 90% of the calls would either begin with, ‘’please excuse me ,is this radio corporation of Nigeria, Please I do not know the owner but I got it on radio and when I finally inform the caller that it is FRSC,the question is please how much is drivers licence?Please can you help me process one?