Robert Bunning MD

By MedStar Health

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Rheumatology
Start Date: 1979

THE CODE BLUE HAT TRICK

On Sunday, February 22, 1980, I was the second-year senior internal medical resident on call, running Code Blues hospital-wide and for MedSTAR. I never enjoyed running a Code Blue. Probably half the time I was on call, I would run one on a hospitalized patient. MedSTAR was fairly new at the time, and rarely was used for a Code Blue coming from outside the hospital, perhaps one only every two weeks or so.

Running a Code Blue was usually a stressful event for a medical resident, and looking back on how stressful I found them, it is no surprise I ended up in rheumatology! I still have a vivid memory of that day when I heard, "Code Blue, MedSTAR." I immediately headed to trauma, as it was going to be the first code I ran there.

As I was running to get there, I heard "Second Code Blue: MedSTAR, ETA one minute." We started working on the first patient as the second patient came through the door. As the second patient arrived, there was a third announcement for yet another Code Blue at MedSTAR.

The various team members assembled in MedSTAR at first wondered what plague had descended upon the District. Eventually, we realized the mini-epidemic was related to the "Miracle on Ice," when the underdog United States men's hockey team beat the heavily favored Soviet team in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The codes occurred immediately after the televised victory.

It's hard to imagine how that one television event transfixed the nation, since today we have so many channels and so many options. Now it seems the only time almost everyone is watching the same show is for American Idol!

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