Hospital Emergency Codes

About Health Care Emergency Codes

The Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) Safety and Security Committee and AllHealth Security Services helped define Health Care Emergency Codes for the state of California. The HASC committee revised the codes in 2014 and may consider updating the document in the near future. We invite your updates and suggestions for the codes at any time. 

The current codes can be downloaded below, along with implementation guides, checklists and other materials to assist you with implementing uniform emergency codes for your facility. These guidelines offer flexibility in responding to emergencies, enabling organizations to enact only the functions or positions that are needed. Facilities should further customize the guidelines to apply to their specific situations.

All information being provided to facilities is for their private use. These guidelines can be used to assist health care facilities in developing their own specific policies and procedures. The information contained in this document is offered solely as general information and is not intended as legal advice.

History of the Emergency Codes

In December 1999, HASC established the Safety and Security Committee, comprising representatives from member hospitals with expertise in safety, security, licensing and accreditation. The committee’s mission is to address issues related to safety and security at health care facilities. One major issue the committee has tackled concerns the lack of uniformity among emergency code systems utilized at different health care facilities.

Adopting code uniformity enables the numerous individuals who work across multiple facilities to respond appropriately to specific emergencies, enhancing their own safety, as well as the safety of patients and visitors. To facilitate code uniformity, the committee developed a standardized set of uniform codes and guidelines that can be adopted by all health care facilities.

In July 2000, the committee adopted the following standardized code names, which remain in effect today:

  • RED for fire
  • BLUE for adult medical emergency
  • WHITE for pediatric medical emergency
  • PINK for infant abduction
  • PURPLE for child abduction
  • YELLOW for bomb threat
  • GRAY for a combative person
  • SILVER for a person with a weapon and/or active shooter and/or hostage situation
  • ORANGE for a hazardous material spill/release
  • TRIAGE INTERNAL for internal disaster
  • TRIAGE EXTERNAL for external disaster

In 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2014, members of the committee reviewed and updated the codes to ensure compliance and conformity with the National Incident Management System, Hospital Incident Command System, Joint Commission and other regulatory and accrediting agencies. Additionally, a new code was added (GREEN for patient elopement) and Code TRIAGE was expanded to include an ALERT.

For more information about these codes, please contact Paul Young, pyoung@hasc.org.

The information contained in this document is not intended as legal advice and is offered solely for general information.