Fire EMS

EMS Triage: Sorting Through the Maze

Issue 3 and Volume 161.

BY KAREN OWENS The injuries caused in events such as the Oklahoma City bombing; the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001; and, more recently, the Virginia Tech campus shooting have drawn attention to the need for a system to handle large numbers of casualties at a time. Many emergency response organizations have chosen systems to assist in providing adequate emergency medical care in a mass-casualty event. As these organizations consider which system to use, questions arise, such as “How does the system work?” and “What are the advantages and disadvantages of each system?” DEFINITIONS In all of the triage systems, the following words are used in the same way: Mass Casualty—any number of casualties produced in a relatively short time that overwhelms the available medical and logistic support capabilities. Triage—the sorting and allocation of treatment to patients, especially battle and disaster victims, according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the…

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