Debrief on Friday's Code Orange at QEH showed 'excellent response'

·2 min read
The Code Orange was called Friday just after 4 p.m. and cleared around 5:30. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
The Code Orange was called Friday just after 4 p.m. and cleared around 5:30. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

Staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Charlottetown said there were important lessons to be learned during a Code Orange last Friday.

"It's a code that we use in the hospital to describe an incident that happened in the community that may result in a surge of patients coming to the hospital," said hospital administrator Terry Campbell.

The call came in right around 3:35 p.m. on Friday, when a school bus carrying 27 students was involved in a collision.

Officials at the hospital tried to gather as much information as they could during the early stages of the accident.

It was determined just after 4 p.m. that a Code Orange would be called based on reports from on-site first responders. Campbell said while about 24 of them were determined less severe, two or three were considered more serious.

"Essentially, we had to plan for maybe receiving all those patients in a short period of time," Campbell said.

Brian Higgins/CBC News
Brian Higgins/CBC News

A physician working in the emergency department at the time was designated the lead for the incident. The nurse manager was on-site and set up as co-lead.

The paging system within the hospital was used to let all staff know a Code Orange was underway.

Additional staff were called upon to help prepare for the possible influx of patients.

"It's sort of voluntary but we had an excellent response. I can't say and thank staff and physicians enough," Campbell said. "Essentially, there was 15-20 nursing staff came right in."

A number of physicians also came in, with others within the hospital in different departments heading down to the emergency department area to pitch in and offer their support.

'It was really inspiring'

A staging area was set up for less severe patients, to free up resources and space in the emergency department for those with the most serious needs.

Island EMS, North River Fire Department and police responded to the scene last Friday. The driver of the SUV and its passengers were not injured.

Tony Davis/CBC News
Tony Davis/CBC News

CBC News did learn that one child on the school bus was airlifted to Halifax and two others were treated at the QEH. All were considered stable.

Around 5:30 p.m., staff at the hospital determined they had taken in the surge of patients that they would need to treat and the Code Orange was cleared.

Campbell said he doesn't remember a previous Code Orange in recent memory, though there are practices so staff are trained up.

Debriefs have been taking place since the Code Orange occurred, Campbell said, to see if there are improvements that could be made.

"It was really inspiring," he said.

"So many really good discussions over the last few days and today with physicians and staff about how proud folks are with how individuals came and stepped up to work together, to get connected and really to unite to provide service."

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