Spike in Code Orange alerts unusual for Northern Health

Northern Health has had three Code Orange events in the past four months.

  • Jan. 21, 2012 11:00 a.m.

Northern Health has had three Code Orange events in the past four months, an unusual amount for the health authority who otherwise rarely sees one activated.

Steve Raper, with Northern Health communications, explained Code Orange as a “mass casualty” event.

“It’s a protocol and process we put into place when we may expect mass casualties so something like a mill explosion for example, in which case it requires us to mobilize all of our physicians, staff, support services, supply services, in the affected areas,” said Raper.

The two other Code Orange activations, other than last night’s explosion at Babine Forest Products near Burns Lake, involved fires at two Prince George apartment buildings.

“It’s just a bit of a fluke we had three in the past four months,” he said.

With a Code Orange, he said it’s “all hands on deck” to address potential situations that may come up.

“It triggers all kinds of service protocols to ensure we’re capable to responding to any potential issue.”

That includes canceling elective surgeries, for example.

The Code Orange will bring all necessary health services in an area to a full complement of staff to handle a spike in patients.

Last night’s Code Orange has been downgraded.

As of this morning, it was said that four patients have been airlifted from Prince George — two to Edmonton, two to Vancouver — and eight were being treated in Prince George, with another expected to be sent to Vancouver.

Two patients remain in Smithers’ hospital, and one is in St. John’s Hospital in Vanderhoof.

Raper said that it’s up to the doctors and their assessment of the patients to determine which hospital people are sent to for treatment.