Code blue means that the patient is either dead or in ventricular fibrillation, which means they will be dead soon if you don't do something right away. This qualifies as a time pressure situation.

The code team swarms the room, with a code cart. A physician will "run" the code, though any nurse will start it.

Jobs include:

1. CPR. This rotates. To do effective CPR, the patient must be on a firm surface, so that may mean rolling them up on their side and sliding a board underneath.

2. Running the code. One doctor will be in charge, but anyone can speak up if they know something or notice something.

3. Attaching stuff. If the patient is not already hooked up to a heart monitor, this means attaching ECG stickers, getting an iv placed (wide bore) and getting the person ready to intubate, if they are not already intubated. "In the field", which means outside the hospital, the first job is getting the clothes out of the way, which means cutting through them fast with bandage scissors. This can be one or two or three nurses or medical students or EMTs or whatever.

4. Recorder. They write down what is happening and all the times.

The medical school joke is "in an emergency, first check your own pulse". The first thing to remember is that the patient is dead. You need to be respectful but you cannot actually make them worse. Though some people might argue that coming back and having stroke like or traumatic brain injury like symptoms is worse.

So, the patient is either dead or nearly dead. You have about 8 minutes. If the person is over 80, CPR is breaking ribs or else it is not effective. Hospitals have taken to doing practice codes in a video taped room, and then analyzing what is happening. How efficiently is the code run? They can then break it down and go over everything that was done.

The longest code I ever attended was at the VA in Portland, Oregon. The gentleman had had a heart transplant. We were instructed to keep going, even though we were beyond 20 minutes. The code was not "called", that is, ended, until the transplant surgeon arrived. It was well over half an hour. He "called" the code immediately when he arrived. The room had gotten quiet at least ten minutes before that because we all knew that it was now futile, though CPR was continued.

I renew Basic CPR and ACLS: Advanced Cardiac Life Support, every two years to stay certified. Back when I was working for the county hospital, they would give me the infant fake case because I was doing obstetrics. In the ACLS class, the patient usually gets a pulse back. In reality if you want to survive a code blue, it's best to die on television. The survival rate on medical shows is way higher than the reality. Your next best choice is either in an ER or else in a Las Vegas Casino, where the security people are used to attaching AEDs.