Code 3 Response

Code 3 Response

Code 3 Response is used to describe a mode of response for an emergency vehicle responding to a call. It is commonly used to mean "use lights and siren."


Though the exact origin of Code 3 is not clearly known [Starting 1971 Norfolk Police Department, implemented response codes. Code 1 was red lights and siren, Code 2 was red light only, and Code 3 was normal running, no lights or siren. This is still in effect today, with the only change from red lights to blue lights. These response codes are used by Norfolk Police, Fire and EMS units.

Richard Herzing
Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response
Public Safety Communications
Norfolk, Virginia
] , its use has spread across the United States and into parts of Canada. [Areas using Code 3:
Phoenix (AZ) Regional SOP 205.08 [] ,
Sierra-Sacramento Valley EMS Agency Program Policy reference no. 415 [] ,
Hennepin County (MN) EMS Ordinance #09 [,2300,1273_1716_100052175,00.html] ,
Hawaii Police Department General Order 807 [] ,
The San Diego (CA) Paramedics [] ,
Killeen (TX) Police Jargon []

Response Codes

The most commonly used response codes are:
* Code 1 - Routine. No lights or siren.
* Code 2 - Expedite. Use of lights and siren is dictated by jurisdiction. [Usually the units are required to follow traffic rules without using lights or siren, but in others lights only may be used. In Palm Beach County, Florida, "Code 2" is used for parades and other events where the traffic laws must be followed but use of lights is still allowed. In Broward County, Florida, "Code 2" is the same as "Code 3", but less urgent. The call is still responded to with lights and siren, but it is used as a type of "mental note."]
* Code 3 - Emergency response, lights and sirens.
* Code 4 - No further assistance is needed.
* Code 5 - Officer needs assistance

Alternative Terminology

In some agencies, Code 3 is also called a Hot Response. Code 1 is also called a Cold Response. [Sources:
San Francisco (CA) EMS Agency 0905 Policy Manual [] ,
Saratoga (NY) EMS Dispatch Changes [] ,
Amherst (NY) Annual 2005 Memo [] ,
Middletown (CT) EMD [] .

Some Paramedic/EMS agencies use Priority terms, which run in the opposite of code responses.

*Priority 1 - Driving around town example to Publix
*Priority 2 - Emergency
*Priority 3 - Non-Emergency

Possible shift to plain language

In the U.S. the National Incident Management System (NIMS) states "it is required that plain language be used for multi-agency, multi-jurisdiction and multi-discipline events, such as major disasters and exercises" and federal grants became contingent on this beginning fiscal year 2006. [NIMS Integration Center. [ (2006). "NIMS AND USE OF PLAIN LANGUAGE". Accessed 14 May 2008.] NIMS also strongly encourages the use of plain language for internal use within a single agency.

ee also

* Ten-code


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