Triage tags are a tool used by medical personnel and first responders during a mass casualty incident. These tools allow them to effectively and efficiently distribute the limited resources and provide immediate care to victims to who are in the most dire need.
The START system â€“ Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment is a process that lets emergency staff evaluate the severity of injuries quickly. They â€˜tagâ€™ the victim with one of four colours to communicate their situation
- Green (Ambulance with a red cancel symbol) â€“ Minimal, walking wounded or minor injuries.
- Yellow (Turtle)â€“ Delayed, non life threatening injuries.
- Red/Purple (Rabbit) â€“ Immediate, life threatening injuries.
- Black (Cross)- Expectant, pain medication however will not survive.
These tags also use symbols rather than words which is helpful for both quick communication of the status as well as removing language barriers.
The tags are placed near the head of the victim and then they can be moved into specific waiting areas while more help arrives on scene to stabilise and move them to hospitals.
If a patientâ€™s medical condition changes while they are in the triage area, potentially getting worse then the medical professionals can tag the victim again to give them a higher priority.
These triage tags are recognisable as the standard layout and so is preferred by professional first responders like the Fire Department, EMS and the military. It is waterproof and damage resistant which makes it suitable for application in a wide variety of situations.
The benefit of using the SMART triage tag system is not just improved traffic and better distribution of care to victims but also efficient data collection and dissemination. The tags come with fill in slots where additional medical information can be added and referred to by each new medical staffer as needed. As the tags are attached to the victim, it eliminates the risk of losing information or crossing information between victims. This is particularly important in triage as resources are stretched thin.