Updated: Nov 9, 2021
What is a Triage Bag?
Triage is a process of initially assessing and sorting casualties based on priorities such as their medical needs and possible response to treatment. Although this seems to be a very easy and straightforward task, if you do not have an objective, effective, and accurate understanding of how to carry out this process, you might make your decisions based on the wrong criteria, which could be fatal. However, triage will be essential in a situation of multiple casualties. It will be an effective method to ensure that those with the most critical conditions get attended to appropriately, saving more lives.
In a situation where a triage has to be done, a triage bag will be essential in organizing the disaster scene. Whether the scene is a major car crash, fire, and others, with a triage bag, the first responders can keep order amid the chaos by prioritizing the needs of the survivors and then working to administer the aid they need to save their lives.
The triage bag includes triage tapes and medical equipment, which you can use to stop bleeding. In addition, the bag contains things like color-coded tarps, triage tapes, tourniquets, trauma bandages, chest seals, compressed gauze, decompression needles, and tags which will be efficient in giving directions to the medical personnel and the victims also.
By giving proper aid and helping to organize trained medical personnel’s efforts, the triage bag can help improve the reach and effectiveness of their efforts.
Humans naturally react to seeing blood, so it leads us to carry out the treatment in a manner of moving from the ones who are visibly traumatic to those whose injuries are not so obvious. However, this is a wrong process because casualties are not triaged based on how quiet the victims are, whether they are conscious or not, and the injury of the victim.
In managing most casualties, the principles of assessment and management can be used in determining the extent of urgency. In these emergencies, the triage process should be prioritized above treatment. The only procedures that should be done during casualty assessment are ensuring that the airway is open and controlling any major bleeding. Triage is essential because it
Helps to ensure that the available resources are used for treatment effectively due to prioritization.
Ensures that the treatment focuses on the casualties that would probably benefit most from the limited resources.
Creates order amid chaos by providing a framework to follow in life-threatening situations.
Triage is primarily done to assess and apply priority in every casualty within 30 to 60 seconds. It must be effective, change based on the initial and following assessment and treatment response, safe, based on evidence, fast, and reproducible.
There are various systems for triage operation globally, but one of the most common ones is the START triage. START is an acronym for Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment, and it works by classifying the treatment category of a casualty from its respiratory, neurological, and circulatory assessment. Then the casualties will be attributed to any of the four categories below:
Immediate (red tag): Casualties that are assigned a red tag are those with injuries that are life-threatening but still treatable and require immediate medical attention. They are transported to the hospital first upon arrival of medical help without being delayed for stabilization. (Category 1)
Urgent (orange or yellow tag): Casualties that are assigned this tag are those with serious injuries, but they are still able to wait for a short time for treatment to be given them. (Category 2)
Delayed (green tag): Casualties that are assigned this tag are those that can wait for hours or days to receive treatment. They can be separated from those with serious injuries by asking for casualties who can walk to gather in a certain area. (Category 3)
Dead (White or Black tag): The casualties assigned this tag are either dead or not expected to make it out alive due to how severe their injuries are and the available resources. (Category 0)
How to Triage
As already established, triage is a process that doesn’t involve treatment. However, there are some exceptions, and we will talk about them below. The process is objective so that the best care can be administered and more lives saved. The steps in this process involve
You should be in charge because you can miss a casualty or even triage it twice as a result of poor communication.
Then, you should ensure to triage everyone and use the bystanders and casualties in Category 3 to tend to and identify Category 1 and 2 casualties.
Then identify all the casualties in Category 1 as they are the priorities and where all resources should be directed. When emergency services arrive, they should be directed to these casualties first.
After stabilizing the Category 1 casualties, don’t move to Category 2 casualties just yet. You should triage everyone again as things do change. For example, category 3 could deteriorate into Category 2, Category 2 could deteriorate to Category 1, and Category 1 could become Category 0.
In the case of the exceptions
All unconscious casualties should be placed on their front before moving on from them. If they are breathing normally but unconscious, they are category 2, and if you leave them on their backs, they could turn into a category 0 because you failed to protect their airway.
In the case of a catastrophic hemorrhage, you should stop the bleeding with a tourniquet if it’s from a limb or use a wound packing if the bleeding is abdominal.
A catastrophic bleeding is bleeding that is immediately life-threatening, i.e., an actively pumping arterial bleeding.
Injuries that are not compatible with life no matter how quickly they are treated should not be touched in a situation of multiple casualties. If you don’t do this, it could divert resources from casualties that are more likely to make it if they are given prompt and effective treatment. These situations include massive cranial and cerebral disruption, decapitation, decomposition, rigor mortis, hypostasis, etc.
Discovering the importance of triage, you would agree that having a triage bag would be a blessing if you find yourself in a situation where there are multiple casualties.