Triage — What the heck is it, anyway?

Triage Card

Triage Card identifies status of victim.

Let’s Talk About Triage.

Whether it’s an earthquake, an industrial or major railroad accident, or a devastating weather event, there are likely to be a number of casualties. Where do you start to sort everything out, who needs help first, what sort of help do they need, who can wait?

Triage is the process of sorting out the severity of injuries and classifying people according to the urgency of their needs.

Some injuries will require only first aid. Some will require more sophisticated medical care and some critically injured will require immediate care to save their lives. And, unfortunately, some are beyond help.

Performing triage involves making the judgments and identifying each person with a color tag so that medical personnel can provide help on a priority basis.

Who performs triage?  Every member of a CERT group should be capable of performing triage. Yes, some training is recommended and, of course, we never know for sure how we will react in the face of a major tragedy so no amount of training can assure a team that its members will perform at 100%.

Where do you perform triage? Most often triage is performed on site or as close to the point of injury as safe or practical. The goal is to make the assessments before moving the injured to avoid compounding injuries by forcing movements that could make the injuries worse.

Request a Triage Decision Tree, available for download.


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