Code Red Hospital Emergency Training: Who Needs It? What You’ll Learn?

Code Red Hospital Emergency Training: Who Needs It? What You'll Learn?

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, NHCPS

posted on Jun 16, 2020, at 10:00 am

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When seconds matter in a fire emergency situation, you only need two words to make appropriate staff jump into action. That’s “Code Red”. But what those team members do in a Code Red Hospital situation and how they work together, that’s what saves lives and manages what may be a fragile community relations situation. This comes down to the thoroughness of their emergency training.

What Happens During a Code Red?

cpr-compressions-mannequinA hospital may announce a Code Red when a staff member or visitor has a reason to believe there is a fire emergency in the building. This may come in the form of smelling or seeing smoke. Doors or walls may become hot to the touch. Or they may physically see flames.

The Code is announced with a location. For example, “Code Red NICU”. And in a technologically-connected facility, staff members may also be alerted via their mobile devices first when time allows. This way, they may receive the alert before the intercom announcement to allow them to jump quickly into action before patients and visitors in the hospital begin to panic.

While many personnel will need to get patients to safety, others need to be available to assess burns, smoke inhalation, and often accident-related trauma injuries. And it all needs to be done while demonstrating that your facility has the situation under control — to whatever degree possible — to prevent panic and the corresponding health emergencies that can arise from that.

Many code red hospital procedures involve the RACE system to remind personnel of the order of priorities in a Code Red Hospital emergency.

That’s…

Rescue – Help people in immediate danger. This may involve moving critical patients who need life-sustaining equipment or someone who has been injured by the fire when it’s safe to do so.

Alarm – Pull it to alert the hospital.

Confine – Close any doors you can easily access to reduce the speed with which fire spreads.

Extinguish – Grab the fire extinguisher to try to stop the fire as reasonable to do so while you wait for FireFighters to arrive.

The Benefits of Code Red Training For Individuals

When it comes to licensing, Basic Life Support (BLS) certification is required for all Registered Nurses. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is required for RNs who work in ICU. Generally, BLS must be obtained before ACLS as a prerequisite to ensure the professional knows the basics to get the most out of ACLS training.

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) is required for RNs who work with juveniles. When that certificate expires, you may need to obtain recertification.

But even if certifications are not required for a specific role, obtaining these and other emergency trainings as an RN, LPN, Hospitalists, EMT, etc. can:

  • Increase chances of progression within an organization, even one where you’ve been for some time
  • Give you the knowledge and confidence you need to stay cool during a code red and save lives.
  • Increase pay potential for the same role or in an advancement
  • Improve chances of landing a job at your dream hospital or other institution

The Benefits of Code Red Training For Teams

Having people trained throughout the hospital in life-saving and quality of life-preserving techniques–even when their license does not require it–can improve outcomes when a large scale emergency like a code red hospital event taxes medical resources.

Despite this fact, even Registered Nurses who many on the floor will see as leaders are not legally required to have life-saving emergency training beyond BLS in most places. And unless they’re working in the emergency room, ICU, or NICU, chances are they haven’t had significant experience in any emergency situations, code red or otherwise. Though they may have a general idea of what to do, without some formal training, survival rates may still be low.

Code red hospital training for both clinical and non-clinical professionals can support your efforts to manage these delicate situations and, although not a guarantee, add much-needed protection from frivolous lawsuits gaining any traction.

And with the availability of group rates for code red training, entire systems can achieve this added level of preparedness within the hospital’s budgets.

Who Needs Code Red Training

Anyone who is responsible for individuals who may not be able to care for themselves in a fire emergency would benefit from code red emergency training. These include medical and non-medical personnel in:

  • Nursing home and senior facility workers
  • Rehab facility workers
  • Medical Hospitals
  • Psychiatric Hospitals

What Kind of Code Red Training Do I Need?

hospital-emergency-medical-staffIn a code red hospital situation, there is a significant chance that people will be injured. While not all staff in a hospital are medical staff, all staff could benefit from various levels of emergency medical training.
Ideally, non-medical personnel who may be faced with a life-threatening fire emergency would have an understanding of, and if possible, a certification in:

  • Basic Life Support
  • CPR
  • First Aid — What you do in those early minutes after a burn happens can significantly affect the degree of scarring or loss of function.
  • How to use an automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • Pediatric Life Support — From infant to young adult, performing life-saving CPR is different on a small body. Those who may potentially be saving children in a code red should consider this training.

In addition to the above life-saving skills anyone can learn and practice in an emergency, all medical personnel or those who need to closely assist would benefit from Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

What You’ll Learn:

Basic Life Support (BLS)

Just like an orthopedist may not treat a fracture the exact same way they did 10 years, ongoing experience and the completion of medical studies are continually improving our understanding of the best ways to save lives and increase chances for greater quality of life. So even if you or your staff took BLS years ago, know that you’ll learn a lot in a current BLS class that you didn’t know.

In case you’re new to BLS, it’s all about the Chain of Survival. Often when someone has a cardiac, respiratory, or similar event, the first person on the scene is either a nurse or a non-medical person. This person needs to know what they can begin immediately to increase survival. Then as more medical personnel arrives, this chain continues as these individuals use life-saving devices, medications, and more advanced techniques as needed.

In a BLS course, your team learns how to assess a variety of emergency situations and start a Chain of Survival. This often includes:

  • Chest compressions (CPR)
  • External defibrillation (AED)
  • Rescue breathing (CPR)
  • Clearing airways when someone is choking or blocked

But BLS is only the beginning. CPR, AED, and First Aid expand on this knowledge so that during a true code red, all healthcare workers have the confidence to take life-saving measures.

CPR, AED & First Aid

This course prepares you for a variety of possible emergencies that may arise in conjunction with a code red hospital alert or at other times in a hospital setting, such as:

  • Asthma attack
  • Food allergy attack
  • Burns
  • Choking
  • Diabetic coma
  • External bleeding
  • Inhaling hazardous fumes
  • Contact with corrosive chemicals
  • Poisoning
  • Possible Neck/Spine injury – When you move a person and how to move them if moving is the only life-saving option during an active fire
  • Stroke
  • Seizure

If you’ve already completed BLS, you’ll review and expand on your experience with CPR and AED, as discussed in BLS training.

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

According to merckmanuals.com, infant out-of-hospital death rates for infants and children that experience cardiac arrest are a sad and astounding 90%. But you may be shocked to learn that in-hospital death rates for infants and children are still 65%. What’s more, many children who survive these events end up with lifelong neurological complications that impact learning and function. Depending on where a code red takes place in the hospital, you could have lots of little lives hanging in the balance.

These little bodies have special needs, and someone who knows adult or adolescent CPR would not necessarily be successful with a small child. Wouldn’t it be great if every parent or adult responsible for a child took this course!

In a PALS course you learn about:

  • Resuscitation Team – The various roles involved and what the priorities are if you have a limited team
  • Basic life support for various ages – How’s it different? What are the steps?
  • Advanced life support for infants and children
  • What tools are needed for PALS and how to use them
  • Walkthroughs of common scenarios

Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens don’t just stop being infectious when we’re faced with someone like a code red hospital emergency.

Hep B, Hep C, HIV — Bloodborne pathogens can complicate rescue efforts and invoke fear in medical personnel who have not been trained on how to stay safe during an emergency. That was very apparent during the HIV epidemic in the ’80s and ’90s. And although we know a lot more about the disease today, it continues to be true for the untrained.

So it’s important that individuals understand the risks and how to manage these risks during a code red.

In a Blood Pathogens Course professionals learn:

  • How bloodborne pathogens transmit and how easily
  • How to recognize exposure risk
  • How to remain in control of that risk level
  • How to properly use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • What to do if exposure occurs
  • Importance of getting related vaccines
  • Cleaning up an area where bloodborne pathogens are known to exist

Advanced Cardiac Life Support

An older but well-respected study published on pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ showed that when physicians are trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, patient survival rates go up dramatically in a hospital setting. A similar study in rural hospitals published here pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov found the same. ACLS training saves lives. And it can give physicians who may not generally work in an emergency setting, or those where cardiac events are common, the confidence they need that they do what they must during a code red hospital event.

ACLS adds to what is learned in the BLS course. In this course, your you or your team explore:

  • A review of what was learned in Basic Life Support (Note: this is a quick overview and not a substitute for actual BLS training)
  • Identifying cardiac or respiratory distress
  • Early management for those with cardiac arrest and respiratory distress
  • Identifying other dangerous heart-related issues that may arise during a code red
  • Managing a variety of heart challenges
  • Opening and maintaining the airway
  • ACLS-related medications
  • What to do during and immediately after a stroke
  • How to maintain proper communication in a team ACLS setting

Once again, that last one shows why it’s important that teams get the same training and certifications so they can work together most efficiently.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers have been faced with a novel coronavirus risk while giving life-saving procedures to patients. Advanced training like this can help those professionals stay safer in those types of airborne pathogen situations.

Code Red Hospital Emergency Training

When seconds matter, how a hospital team works together can mean the difference between life and death. While many professionals in a hospital setting are not required to have certain training, obtaining those pieces of training as a team can improve outcomes during emergency events like a code red. To explore the individual and team courses and certifications for hospital staff, please visit our resources.

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

Contact Mackenzie at [email protected].
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