Healthcare Emergency Colour Codes

I love feedback from the Firewize website. Not a day goes by when I don't get a message about something that we have written, or a request for more information. Today I received a message from a consultant (Tash) who asked for more information about an older article on the website titled "Healthcare - Colour Code Warning System". Here is the question, and my response:

---------- Original Message ----------
From: Tash
Date: Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 4:56 PM
Subject: Further info regarding colour code warning systems

Hi there Russell,

Could you please email me any guidance/instructions on how to react to the colour code systems listen on your website?

I work as a hospital auditor and often hear codes over loud speaker; and feel it's best to know an appropriate response, should an emergency arise.

Many thanks,


Hospitals are required to develop an emergency procedures manual which covers the a range of emergencies. There are two primary Australian Standards that provide a framework for developing emergency procedures in hospitals;

  • AS4083 - Planning for Emergencies, Health Care Facilities; and
  • AS3745 - Emergency control organization and procedures for buildings, structures and workplaces

How one would react in an emergency should be defined generically in the hospital emergency procedures manual.

As the fight attendant says when they are demonstrating the safety features of an aeroplane "...subtly every aeroplane is different..." And the same is true for hospitals.

In addition, the Building Code of Australia ("BCA") provide guidance about the safety systems, equipment and features of a building according to the classification of the building.

In Victoria the Department of Human Services provides additional guidance (in addition to the BCA) specifically for healthcare facilities called the "Capital Development Guidelines".

The purpose of these Guidelines is to provide appropriate levels of fire safety for staff, clients and other occupants of a building subject to the Guidelines, in part by providing for appropriately accredited professionals, such as Fire Safety Engineers, Building Surveyors and Building Inspectors, to audit and assess fire risk, recommend steps to minimise fire risk, and to assess and report on acceptable standards of fire safety, in specific settings.

Healthcare Emergency Colour Codes

Blue Medical Emergency
Purple Bomb Threat
Red Smoke or Fire
Orange Evacuation
Yellow Internal Emergency
Brown External Emergency
Black Serious Aggression
Grey Threatening Behaviour