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Code Blue

Responding to Medical Emergencies

Man teaching CPR

And Isaiah said, “Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover.” ~ 2 Kings 20:7 (ESV)

You are shopping in Black Hat Food Market. The piped-in music stops, and a voice on the P.A. says, “Code Blue, Aisle 13.” For the uninitiated, this may be a mystery, but for those in the know this means there is a medical emergency in Aisle 13. Perhaps an employee nearby sets everything down and hurries to that location.

The actual phrasing may vary from place to place, but some use “Code Blue” to mean a medical emergency. This can mean an accidental injury or serious medical condition requiring immediate attention. Coming to mind are falls, collisions, industrial injuries, heart attacks, strokes, loss of consciousness, violent illness, etc.

In cases like this, most workplaces, schools, and large retail operations have personnel trained and ready to respond. Several years ago, one person associated with this ministry had an industrial accident with serious injury. This person had to tell those nearby what to do until the Emergency Response Team arrived. But calling the ERT was one thing they did know to do.

Many times, immediate attention is the difference between life and death. Two brothers had the same kind of heart attack years apart. One was at home and died before help came. The other was at a public event where medics were stationed. He lived another two decades.

Serious medical emergencies happen not only in factories, construction and other work sites, retail stores, and schools. They can and do also occur in churches, on church property, and at off-site church events. It is important that someone present knows what to do and how to do it.

If your church has a Safety/Security Team, the team members ought to be trained in responding to medical emergencies. Three critical subjects of training are First Aid, CPR and AED. When the team has training classes in these things, they should also be open to others in the church, especially staff, group leaders, and teachers. The more who are qualified to respond, the larger the margin of safety.

A key aspect of timely response is communication. There has to be a means of alerting key persons to the emergency. Currently, the most effective means is security team radios and/or smart phone links. Other than that, coded alerts could be given over the building’s public address system or CCTV.

Training will not only teach team members how to respond. It will also train them in recognizing emergency situations. For example, the student will learn how to know whether someone is likely having a heart attack or a stroke.

What are First Aid, CPR and AED?

First Aid

According to Wikipedia, “the assistance given to any person suffering a sudden illness or injury.”* Boy Scouts have been learning First Aid at least since early in the 20th Century. Some details may have changed in that time, and much has been added, but it is still basically the same. First Aid skills include cleaning and dressing wounds (cuts) and burns, stopping severe bleeding, splinting a broken limb, and caring for sprains and bruises. There is much more. Among skills added in the past century is the Heimlich Maneuver to rescue a person who is choking.

A First Aid course is more than learning how to clean a cut and make a bandage. Among other things, the student also learns how to take precautions when there is a concussion or a potential back or neck injury to prevent further damage.


Stands for Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. This is the emergency response when someone’s heart or breathing has stopped. The two most recognized techniques are chest compression and mouth-to-mouth breathing. Knowing what they are is not enough. The responder must know how to perform it properly.

A responder performing CPR cannot just do it and go. He or she has to keep doing it until relieved or the heart keeps beating on its own and breathing is restored.


Automated External Defibrillation. These relatively recent devices are the direct descendants of the heart shockers used in hospitals (you may have seen them in emergency room scenes on television shows). Almost anyone can learn to use an AED. However, certain precautions must be taken, so training is essential.

An AED device detects the patient’s vital signs and calculates when to shock the heart and at what power level. It tells the responder when to activate it so that other persons can first break contact with the patient’s body.


Several resources are available to train safety/security teams and church staff in how to respond to a medical emergency. The American Heart Association and the Red Cross offers ​​CPR, AED and First Aid Certification classes. Many local fire departments also conduct training classes in First Aid, CPR and AED to businesses, schools and civic organizations. Many online courses are available, but hands-on training is more effective.

Find more information on other Church Security subjects from Sheepdog Church Security.


*Wikipedia,, accessed June 6, 2016.