By: Michael Kerr

There’s little in medicine so polarizing as knowing what to do in an acute emergency. In one instance you’re a hero, a leader people look up to.

You get to enjoy a thick syrupy gratification that all those years of hard work and study have culminated in actually doing good for someone, perhaps saving a life.

Perhaps one of the most esoteric medical moments.

On the other hand it could be the crack that unleashes a flood of career long doubt, fear, and avoidance. So if these situations are so potentially critical to both patients and ourselves, wouldn’t it be prudent to prepare? Sure we all do the yearly BLS / ACLS retraining. We all know this means little more than drinking tea, complaining about hospital biscuits, and hoping that there’s someone else in the group who also can’t remember how to synchronize before a cardioversion.

What is it?

Crisis Code is a short course from two anesthetics professors at Stanford University. It’s designed to improve your skills and management in crisis situations. While it does touch upon acute medical management, it’s not a replacement for ACLS courses and looks more at the teamwork and management issues relating to these scenarios. Their site can be found here. Crisis Code for iPad is an app revolving around the content from the course. It’s important to note that this review focuses on the app, rather than the course, which I would solidly recommend for anyone.


Start up requires creating a free account. It’s quick and painless. The main menu is easy to navigate, swiping left and right for different sections.

  1. Introduction to crisis resource management
  2. Lesson 1 – Introduction
  3. Lesson 2 – Science of ACLS
  4. Lesson 3 – VT/VFib
  5. Lesson 4 – PEA/Asystole
  6. Lesson 5 – Airway/Vascular
  7. Lesson 6 – Bradycardia
  8. Lesson 7 – Unstable SVT
  9. Lesson 8 – Post-Resuscitation


Here we come to our first of a few issues. Content is locked. You need to complete the course in a linear fashion, and only once you’ve viewed the lecture and completed the test can you progress to the next section. This is really annoying, though I think the decision might have been based in the recurring themes that are built upon as you progress. The first section touches upon the principles of crisis management. There’s a quick pre-quiz to get you in the mood. The introduction is centered around watching a crisis from a first-person point of view. It shows you how it developed and how it could be handled. This certainly helps put things into perspective and get you in the mood to learn. I think it’s a fantastic tie in between the somewhat mundane theory and the real world impact that this stuff has.

Once you’ve completed the lectures, which are typically 20-30 minutes, you can peruse the lecture notes / slides. Finally there’s a post-quiz and you can move onto the next section.


The app itself is really just a content delivery system for their course and little more. Unfortunately, there are a number of bugs (at least on my iPad) that detract from the experience. After using it for some time, I’d decided that viewing their videos through a web browser was a better experience than the app, which is a shame. Swiping between modules was jittery, and would often freeze for 5-10 seconds at a time. It would occasionally bug out, displaying two modules half on top of each other. Again, I must reiterate that this isn’t to detract from the content of their material, which is not only free, it’s fantastic. These guys have obviously put considerable time and effort into producing this stuff.


  • Free (both the app in iTunes and the online course)


  • Fantastic material
  • Can download each section for offline viewing


  • Buggy
  • The app unfortunately detracts from the course content
  • App offers nothing more than viewing the course on a browser
  • Have to download each section one by one


  • Would have been great if there were pictures of these guys on horses.
  • It would be amazing if they were able to incorporate something along the lines of the CPR game app to let you practice what you’ve already learned, though, I imagine that the effort to realize this would make it unfeasible.
  • While I won’t be keeping the app on my iPad, it’s free, so give it a go.
  • The course material is the same as from their website, and I’d recommend this to anyone keen on improving their acute care scenario skills and theory. While the app isn’t very functional, if it exposes their material to more people, then that’s a good thing.

iTunes Link