Explaining Triage in First Aid

Wednesday 05 March 10:24 AM

Last week we received an interesting question from a student completing their First Aid Online

In a multi casualty situation, when the rescuers are out numbered by the injured the first aid treatment rules are required to be varied. This is because if the rescuers are limited in numbers than the injured victims, and there is not a system used, then there is a possibility of a victim dies when urgent treatment needs to be given.  e.g unconscious casualty with concussion not turned over on their side because the rescuer was attending to a cardiac arrest victim.

Triage is a system used by of rationing limited medical resources such as first aiders when the number of injured needing first aid exceeds the resources available to perform first aid so as to treat those patients in most need of treatment who are able to benefit first. The term comes from the French word for sort.

Simple Triage And Evacuation (START) START is a simple triage system that first aiders can learn to use with little training. Simple triage identifies which persons need advanced medical care. In START, persons should be treated and evacuated as follows:

DECEASED are left where they fell, covered if necessary; note that in START a person is not triaged "DECEASED" unless they are not breathing and pulseless and an effort to reposition their airway has been unsuccessful.

IMMEDIATE or Priority 1  These people are in critical condition and would die without immediate assistance. Good example for treatment would be the above example.

DELAYED or Priority 2  can have their medical evacuation delayed until all IMMEDIATE persons have been transported. These people are in stable condition but require medical assistance. An example might be a broken forearm.

MINOR or Priority 3 (green) are not evacuated until all IMMEDIATE and DELAYED persons have been evacuated. These will not need advanced medical care for at least several hours. Continue to re-triage in case their condition worsens. These people are able to walk, and may only require bandages and antiseptic.

When thinking about triage as a tool to save as many people as possible. If I as the only rescuer neglected the casualty that needed instant help to survive such as the example above and started CPR on a casualty who most likely wont survive because of the associated injuries from trauma, could cause two victims to perish. In other words, we are trying to do the best for a large amount of injured casualties.