Triage Tag

Posted: Wednesday August 15, 2012

I found the following evidence tags within a basement room of closed hospital and thought they were rather interesting. They are known officially as triage tags and are used by medical personnel upon arrival at a causality or disaster event. The tags serve as a means for identifying and accounting victims involved in a mass causality event, based on injury severity. Important and potentially life saving information about said victims is recorded on the tags enabling first responders to easily determine people requiring the most immediate medical attention from a potentially large number of victims sustaining various injuries. The tags help to establish an orderly triage process within an otherwise chaotic event.

Because there is no universal layout, triage tag designs range from state to state. However just about all tags contain space for basic victim demographics and vital sign information to be recorded. Common details include, birthdate, name, age, address, and severity of injuries. Another important design element included of triage tags are four to five color coded tear strips, usually found towards the bottom of the tag. These tear off sections are used to label patients based on wound status. The color black indicates the most severe injuries or even death. Red entails life threatening injuries, yellow non-life threatening, green details minor injuries and white classifying the uninjured or in some instances, victims refusing care.

The front side of the triage tag contains fill-in slots where information about the victim's demographics can be recorded. A section containing a crude sketch of the human body is also present. Here the victim's injures can be marked down based on a number system classifying the type of injury. (Click the above and below images to load a readable expanded version.)

The reverse side of the triage tag contains room for vital sign information to be recorded. Other particulars about the current state of the victim can be jotted down as well.

The overall benefit of using triage tags is to create order out of chaos. As more information about victims is gathered it can be written down on the tags. This forms a record of the scene and allows first aide responders to efficiently allocate their help based on the information provided. A full report detailing the step-by-step process required to fully understand and properly utilize a New Jersey Disaster Triage Tag can be read here.

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