Preparing and managing hospitals for a disaster or emergency

The Medical Management portfolio of the Disaster Preparedness Management Unit (DPMU) works with hospitals and health services to improve preparedness for internal and external emergencies.

Bushfire building protection zones

Building protection zones (BPZs) are areas around buildings in which fuel loads are modified to reduce the exposure of buildings to flame, heat and embers, and assist in efforts to defend buildings from bushfire.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) (external site) contains information about BPZ standards.

Hospitals should complete an annual self-assessment of all buildings against the guidelines before the start of the bushfire season (1 December).

Notification of hospital incidents

Where an emergency has the potential to seriously impact upon a hospital’s service delivery, or poses a threat to the safety of staff and/or patients, the hospital health coordinator or regional health disaster coordinator should notify the on-call duty officer (OCDO) of the emergency code activation.

The OCDO can be notified on 9328 0553.

Hospitals should also notify the OCDO of all planned internal service outages or maintenance that may conceivably affect other WA Health services.

Planning for emergencies in health care facilities

Hospitals and health care facilities use a nationally recognised set of codes to prepare, plan, respond and recover from internal and external emergencies.

There is no State legislation that requires hospitals to implement, in whole or in part, the standards.

However accreditation bodies may refer to these when assessing a hospital’s preparedness for emergencies.

The hospital emergency codes are based upon Australian Standard (AS) 4083 - 2010 Planning for emergencies – Health care facilities and include:

  • Fire/smoke (Code red)
  • Medical emergency (Code blue)
  • Bomb threat (Code purple)
  • Infrastructure and other internal emergencies (Code yellow)
  • Personal threat (Code black)
  • External emergency (Code brown)
  • Evacuation (Code orange).

See Australian Standard 4083-2010, Planning for emergencies – Health care facilities (external site) and Information Circular 0150/13 - Emergency codes in hospitals and health care facilities (external site).

Additionally, the WA Department of Health has endorsed the adoption of an emergency code for infant and child abductions. See OD 0384/12 Code Black Alpha (Infant/Child Abduction) (external site) for guidance.