You are watching an episode of your favorite TV medical drama when the PA system announces “Code Green! Code Green!” All the doctors, nurses, orderlies, administrators, custodians, and security personnel seem to go on autopilot. They all seem to go to where they are supposed to be and to start preparing. Do you ever wonder if they practice that?
Well, first of all, it’s a television drama; however, it is a fairly accurate depiction of what happens in a real hospital when this situation occurs. A “Code Green” is an emergency code used in health care facilities to denote the activation of the Emergency Operations Plan or EOP. It activates the facility’s Hospital Incident Command System (HICS). This is part of a national emergency management system under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. It ensures that all facilities, personnel, and resources are utilized efficiently in a coordinated fashion. Teachout Security Systems has the training and expertise to develop an EOP and has done so for many of our region’s medical facilities.
Four Parts of an EOP
The first is Mitigation. This is where we identify all of the possible risks, analyze their likelihood of occurring, and assign a severity ranking if they were to occur. The Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA) process is a key element for developing an EOP and drives incident-specific planning. It helps identify, prioritize, and define threats that may impact operations. For instance, an active shooter is, despite recent events, still considered an extremely rare event (1) with a very high level of criticality (5). 1×5 = 5.
A weather emergency, like a snowstorm or a tornado, is a very likely event in this area (5) which is generally moderate in criticality (2 to 4 depending on where you live). 5×3 = 15. Other parts of the country might not have blizzards but will have hurricanes or earthquakes instead. Weather emergencies are almost always the highest risk score on a hazard vulnerability analysis.
The next part of the EOP is Preparation. This is where the national coordination of the process comes to bear. The preferred approach is an “All Hazards Approach.” You don’t have a tornado plan, a bomb plan, a fire plan, an active shooter plan, etc. Instead, a management-by-objectives framework is followed. This gives you one set of procedures to be followed by the command and control structure that is activated under the EOP. The only variation is the amount of resources provided for the specific incident by the HICS.
The HICS is designed to be useable for managing all routine or planned events, of any size or type, by establishing a clear chain of command. It facilitates the integration of personnel from different agencies or departments into a common structure that can effectively address issues and delegate responsibilities. It also ensures that key functions are covered, and duplication is eliminated. The Incident Commander for a major Code Green event will have a Command Staff that includes:
- A Public Information Officer to provide a coordinated flow of official information to internal personnel and external members of the community, including the media or other organizations.
- A Safety Officer to monitor safety conditions and measures for assuring the safety of all assigned personnel.
- A Liaison Officer to serve as the primary contact for supporting agencies assigned to the hospital, including the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or field Incident Command post.
- A Medical/Technical Specialist may also be included if the incident has a bio-medical hazards element attached. This is a doctor or researcher with specialized expertise who may be asked to provide needed insight and recommendations to the Incident Commander during and/or after a response and provide qualified expert information to the Public Information Officer as needed.
The third element of the EOP is Response. The storm is here (literally or figuratively), so what are we going to do FIRST? This is where the experience and expertise of Teachout Security Solutions come to bear in our client facilities. Our priorities are to protect people, property, and operations, usually in that order, although some specific Code Green incidents may require that we prioritize operations over the property. An example of this would be a mass casualty incident.
Hospitals have a good daily working relationship with local law enforcement, especially through the hospital’s police and security forces. Teachout’s uniformed security officers are trained to help ensure effective communication and mutual understanding of response capabilities and needs during a disaster. We supplement local and state law enforcement by handling facility and campus access control, pedestrian and vehicular traffic control, and monitoring personnel egress. We are also capable of ramping-up surveillance procedures including inspecting suspect packages; closer scrutiny of personnel at checkpoints, crowd control, and providing enhanced visible security in certain areas such as the emergency department, pharmacy, and the hospital’s command center. This frees law enforcement personnel to be deployed in critical capacities where needed. Should the emergency situation be prolonged, Teachout can also provide additional resources and personnel as needed to assist or relieve the on-duty Security staff.
These deployment assignments and pertinent response procedures, including rules of engagement, are all included in the EOP, but should be discussed upon their arrival along with what support resources will be required (e.g., personal protective equipment, phone access). The media will also be arriving at some point and requesting special parking locations for their outside interviewing and “live shots.” Teachout personnel are trained to handle these situations in a professional manner, as well.
The final element of the EOP is Recovery. At Teachout, we recognize that our job during a Code Green crisis is usually the first man in and last man out. We recognize that having a calm, professional security presence during the recovery process often goes a long way toward restoring the normal order as quickly as possible. We are prepared to do whatever it takes to facilitate a speedy and complete recovery. Like Steve Miller’s sings in “Fly Like An Eagle.”
Feed the babies who don’t have enough to eat.
Shoe the children with no shoes on their feet.
House the people livin’ in the street.
Oh, oh, there’s a solution.
Whatever it takes to get our community back on its feet, the security professionals at Teachout Security Solutions stand ready to do our part.
It isn’t just hospitals that need to prepare for the unexpected. Whether you work in a school, a church, an office, a manufacturing facility, or a retail store you need to know what to do in case of an emergency. If your organization requires an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) so that you are prepared when calamity occurs, give us a call today. We are ready to help you prepare for the time you hear “Code Green! Code Green!”