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Emergency procedures

It is important for practice managers to know your practice’s emergency procedures inside and out and to provide staff with guidelines on the correct action required to protect patients and staff in the event of an emergency situation threatening life and/or property, including medical emergencies, fire and evacuation.

Staff should be skilled in the management of emergencies through the establishment of clear guidelines and regular training.

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1. A suitably experienced and trained person (often the practice manager) should be nominated as the chief warden to coordinate the overall management of emergencies. In addition, a designated person should be nominated each shift to act in the chief warden’s absence.

2. Staff should be familiar with how to recognize and act in an emergency (see emergency response codes below). The main steps to follow are:

  • detection of the emergency
  • acknowledgement of the emergency and decision on the appropriate code
  • communication of the decision to management/staff
  • implementation of appropriate action by management/staff.

3.In the event of an emergency, the staff member involved should call the appropriate code as soon as possible to alert the other staff members.

4.The designated chief warden should decide if the appropriate emergency services should also be called.

5. The chief warden should coordinate appropriate action. Staff should act promptly when they hear a code called. The safety of patients, staff and visitors is paramount.

6.The following are priorities during an emergency:


7. If an emergency evacuation is required, staff should be guided by the chief warden.

Significant actions include:

Emergency operations

8. alerting others to the emergency

  • assisting those who need help evacuating
  • leaving the area by the assigned exit or the closest safe exit if the assigned one cannot be used
  • assembling in the assigned safe place
  • not blocking the path of emergency response crews or vehicles
  • staying in the assigned place and following instructions from the assigned chief warden.

9. Staff should attend training in the emergency codes and responses for the practice in the first month of commencement of employment and annually, including a demonstration of codes, evacuation procedures, emergency exits and use of emergency equipment.

10.The designated chief warden should attend a formal training program in emergency procedures.

Emergency response codes

Type of emergency Action
Code red
Code blue
Medical emergency
Code orange
Code yellow
Internal emergency
Code purple
Bomb threat
Code black
Personal threat
Code brown
External emergency
  • Follow the emergency policy designed for your practice.
  • Remain calm - do not panic.
  • Raise the alarm and ensure the exact location of the emergency is disseminated to the required emergency services/staff.
  • Alert management and other staff/patient's.
  • Remove people from danger if safe to do so.
  • Remember - no amount of money or drugs are worth a life.
  • Report to the chief warden.
  • Provide assistance as required.
  • Ensure the phone line is kept open.
  • Assemble as directed by the chief warden and evacuate when instructed to do so.

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Specimen collection and management
  • Correct management of specimens
  • Improve your practice
  • Labelling
  • Transport

This publication is proudly brought to you by Avant Mutual Group. The content was authored by Brett McPherson, reviewed by Colleen Sullivan and Avant Mutual Group.

This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2014.

IMPORTANT: Professional indemnity insurance products and Avant’s Practice Medical Indemnity Policy are issued by Avant Insurance Limited, ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and PDS, which is available at or by contacting us on 1800 128 268. Practices need to consider other forms of insurance including directors’ and officers’ liability, public and products liability, property and business interruption insurance, and workers compensation and you should contact your insurance broker for more information. Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. Any advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the product is appropriate for you before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us.