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Student Life

Carrying the crash bleep

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 01 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:0711398
  1. Kaushal Thota, final year medical student1
  1. 1University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL

Have you been part of a resuscitation team? Kaushal Thota wonders what it's like

The very first time I carried a “crash” bleep was an interesting experience. I was more self aware. I felt older and more responsible than I had ever felt before in the clinical setting. Also, I felt slightly nervy as long as the red-black crash bleep was secured to my waist.

A crash bleep is normally carried by members of the resuscitation team of a hospital. This team is also commonly called the crash team, and consists of doctors and allied healthcare professionals who respond rapidly to a patient who has had a cardiopulmonary arrest in a hospital. The purpose of the crash bleep is to alert the select team about the exact location of the patient.

The crash bleep is a baton bleep, which means that at the end of a shift it is passed on to the person beginning the next shift, making it constantly operational. The typical chain of events that leads to its activation are as follows. The recognition of cardiopulmonary arrest in a patient (or of a critically ill patient threatening to arrest) prompts a call to the hospital switchboard. The switchboard immediately sends out a crash call to every member of the resuscitation team. On being notified, it is their duty to converge on the position of the patient and begin appropriate management.

According to the standards outlined by the Resuscitation Council of the United Kingdom, the resuscitation team should ideally consist of at least two doctors with current training in advanced life support. These two roles are usually filled by an anaesthetist and a physician. Additional members are a resuscitation officer and people representing other departments such as nursing, pharmacy, or paediatrics. The exact composition of a resuscitation team …

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