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Why Triage Should Not Be Performed During Search and Rescue Operations

Posted by Wayne Bennett on

In the world of emergency response, knowledge is not just power—it's a lifesaver. The decisions you make in the initial moments of a disaster could mean the difference between life and death for students and staff. That's why understanding the role and timing of Triage in your disaster response strategy is crucial. Today, let's explore why Triage should be distinctly separated from Search and Rescue operations.

What Is Triage?

For those not familiar, Triage is a method of sorting and prioritizing victims based on the severity of their conditions. It’s an invaluable process designed to maximize the impact of medical attention when resources are limited. However, it is crucial to note that Triage is best conducted in a controlled environment, not in the middle of Search and Rescue operations.

Triage Poster

*Download Triage Poster here

The Challenges of Triage During Search and Rescue

You may wonder why not perform Triage during Search and Rescue, especially when immediate attention is vital. While the intention is good, the reality is that the conditions during a Search and Rescue operation, be it a fire, earthquake, or other emergencies, are far from ideal for a nuanced procedure like Triage. Poor lighting, unstable structures, and heightened noise levels can interfere with accurate assessments.

The "LifeSavers" Come First

Instead of Triage, focus on the immediate life-saving steps—what we call the "LifeSavers." These include controlling severe bleeding, ensuring open airways, and managing shock. These fundamental steps can be rapidly executed, even in adverse conditions, and act as a preliminary safeguard until the victims can be moved to a Triage area for more extensive evaluation.

Time and Safety

Performing Triage during Search and Rescue will only serve to delay the rescue process. The time it takes to categorize each victim, while crucial, should not impede quick actions necessary to remove individuals from hazardous situations. A more efficient approach would be to provide preliminary stabilization via the "LifeSavers" method and then move everyone to a predetermined Triage area.

Specialized Teams and Training

It is vital to have specialized teams focusing on particular tasks. This strategy prevents an overwhelming rush into the disaster scene and enhances the efficiency of the operation. If you're interested in in-depth training for your school’s disaster response team, consider our Disaster Response Training for Schools.

Get Your School’s Disaster Survival Calculator

To help you prepare, we offer the School Disaster Survival Calculator. Download your comprehensive, 9-page disaster preparedness report to guide your planning and organization. To get your report, simply enter your details here.


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