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Update aims to speed process for issuing missing persons alerts

Jan. 29, 2020, 3:08 PM


by Kylie Avery

When a person goes missing, sending an alert to Vanderbilt University Medical Center employees as quickly as possible is crucial, and an update to VUMC’s missing person process rolling out Feb. 1 focuses on doing just that.

The goal is to reduce the amount of time needed to notify staff and surrounding departments to prepare to activate their subplans.

Previously, the procedure required staff to call the Medical Center operator when a patient went missing and answer 10 questions that would help identify the patient, then the operator would make an announcement with the appropriate code.

This process meant minutes could pass before an initial announcement was made. The updated process now only requires employees to list four initial identifiers — age, sex, race and last known location — before putting out an initial code.

“Once the operator gets those four identifiers, she can put a code out within seconds of a call instead of minutes,” said Jeff Mangrum, director of Emergency Preparedness.

The codes for missing patients are as follows:

  • Code Pink is for a missing infant (younger than 12 months).
  • Code Purple is for a missing child (1-12 years).
  • Code Walker Adolescent is for a missing teen (13-17).
  • Code Walker Adult is for a missing adult, 18 or over.

According to Mangrum, the most significant change in the process for employees is that they will be placed on hold while the initial announcement is made instead of ending the phone call.

“It’s important for employees to stay on the line after the code is sent because the operator will ask additional questions to get a more comprehensive identification of the patient,” Mangrum said.

Questions will include a description of patient’s clothing, hair color and any medical devices they may have.

This change in the missing persons process will be included in new quick reference guides coming to each department.

If you have additional questions regarding the missing persons process, contact Mangrum at

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