Posted by: Kate | September 11, 2008

Code Pink

My job, all by itself, has the potential to be fascinating every day.  Yesterday started off with a bang, and it didn’t even have anything to do with a patient, suicide, homicidal thoughts, psychosis, depression, or any of my other stock-in-trade.

Nope, yesterday’s excitement was of an observational nature for me.  While I was at the emergency room, a voice came over the PA system, which is rare all by itself.  In a lot of hospital shows and whatnot, you hear doctors being paged in the background, but this is actually quite unusual.  I think the effort is to minimize the unnecessary noise, so each doctor has an individual pager, and the PA system is reserved for two things: they play a little song whenever a new baby is born (kind of cute, really) and they announce Codes.

There are a bunch of different codes, and each hospital has its own set.  As a general rule, “Code Red” or “Paging Doctor Red” means there is a fire, “Code Blue” means a medical emergency, and, as anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time with Grey’s Anatomy knows, “Code Black” means a bomb or explosive.

Yesterday’s announcement was, “Code Pink, Women & Children.  Code Pink.”

Huh?  Code Pink?  What’s that?  I hadn’t heard that one before, but my badge carries a list of codes on the back of it.  So I checked, and Code Pink, at this hospital, means, “Infant or Child Abduction.”

Well, that’s no good.  Immediately the hospital goes on lockdown, doors shut, parking lots blocked off, patients confined to rooms and so on.

Five minutes later, I heard a scuffle right outside my office, which I share with the doctors at this particular emergency department.  Again, one might imagine that a scuffle or loud voices are normal in an emergency room, but in reality, things tend to run pretty quietly in the hallways.  So I peeked out, in time to watch two nurses restraining a 30-something, somewhat disheveled, very much pissed-off-looking woman, while a third held one of those reusable cloth grocery bags.

A somewhat lumpy, slightly wiggly reusable cloth grocery bag.

Wild stuff.

There’s a door right next to my office which is always locked from the outside going in, but is always unlocked from the inside going out; it’s the ambulance entrance, and most of the staff use it as well.  I didn’t recognize the woman, but for her to have known about the door suggests she either works there or has done some research.

A minute later, I watched a car pull out of the parking lot at high speed, jumping the curb because there were still guards blocking the exit, and take off down the road.  My guess is that the getaway car just got away without its intended contents, but I can’t know.

It was quite the excitement, especially since I could just watch the whole thing play out, without getting involved.



  1. Wow. Scary how often that goes on these days. What was the story? Crazed wannabe mom or what?

  2. I have no idea. It’s going to be an active investigation for a bit, but because she didn’t get outside the building it will be an “attempted kidnapping,” rather than an actual one – depending on a lot of factors, it might not even make the news.

  3. Please tell me the baby is ok?

    When my youngest was in the hospital after being born, he kept managing to wiggle his lo-jack loose. I’d be sound asleep and get a call from the nurses’ station confiming that he was where he belonged. They finally put a new thingy on him that didn’t come loose.

  4. I would assume so – the baby was brought back upstairs instead of being treated for anything in the ED, so that’s a good start.

  5. I will say after I had my daughter about 12 hours into my hospital stay…I was ready for check out. The list of things that were absolutely not up to par went on for a mile. (It was literally 95 degrees in my hospital room…and they refused to turn down the heat. REFUSED! A Jamaican nurse told me I was nuts.) I was ready to put my little bundle of joy back under my maternity top & book it. However, considering my navigation skills…I’m certain I’d have no clue how to escape.

    Keep us posted on what the back story is…

  6. Ohmigosh, how scary!! This is like something you’d read in a book or see in a movie. It must have been very frightening for everyone involved. I hope it has all turned out happily for the parents and child involved.

  7. HOLY SHIT! You know, when I had the Caboose the nurses tell you all the safety stuff about who is who and what to look for….but to actually have it happen to you? OMG. I hope the mom and baby are okay and not completely freaked out by the experience.

  8. Well, that’s terrifying. Even if it did end well.

  9. That certainly made my stomach flip. We have always had prblems with those “lojacks” on our kids and I NEVER felt safe in a hospital.
    I am so happy the baby was returnedto his/her parents and I think that the person left the L&D floor should make it kidnapping and not attempted. The floor is protected so she had to bypass some type of security system…but who am I to change the laws?

  10. Wow exciting or what! The most exciting thing that happened to me this week was a blackout on Wednesday and having to run 3 blocks for coffees! Bleagh! Let us know what the upshot of the pandemonium was huh?

  11. Fascinating. Another (although mostly one used by paranoiacs) reason for home birth, in my head.

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