Icy streets sent so many people to the hospital Tuesday morning that the QEII had to go into emergency mode.

The hospital was already busy when it got a spike of patients coming in with broken and bruised limbs from slipping on ice.

That overwhelmed the facilities, leaving hospitals without enough beds to treat everyone. Eventually doctors called a “code orange” to get more help.


“Normally, you’d be going into your own room to be checked out by a physician. In this case, they had run completely out of those rooms, so we were lined up on chairs in the hallway with the doctors walking along checking everybody out,” said Chris Majka.

Majka slipped and hurt his wrist. After waiting three-and-a-half hours, he was told it wasn’t broken, but his doctor had already seen four broken arms before him.

The problem was so many people coming in with similar injuries. Hospitals generally see a range of patients going to different departments. But when so many people come in with the same ailment, one section can be overwhelmed.

The doctors needed to do something, but there was no code for being overly backed up. So they improvised.

“Unfortunately, our codes don’t cover every scenario. So the physicians on duty at the time said, 'We need some extra resources. We need some support, so we’re going to activate the code closest to this to activate that support,'” said hospital spokesman Peter Graham.

“A code orange is specific to an external event outside of the hospital, in the community. It’s some sort of casualty event where we expect a lot of patients to arrive in a short period of time.”

The code was able to be called off about an hour later and by late afternoon, a bed had been found for all but one patient.