Medical Triage, Tagging & Color Codes : Disaster Management

Medical Triage : Definition, Types, Process, Categories, Tags, Color Codes : Disaster Management

Medical Triage

  • Medical Triage consists of rapidly classifying the injured on the basis of severity of their injuries and likelihood of their survival with prompt medical intervention. It yields best results when carried out at the site of disaster.
  • The principle of First come first treated or served is NOT followed in emergencies.
  • Triage is the only approach that can provide maximum benefit to the greatest no. of injured in a major disaster emergency.

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  • Triage sieve : Quick survey to separate the dead and the walking from the injured
  • Triage sort : Remaining casualties are assessed and allocated to categories

Color Codes

Triage system uses FOUR color code system according priorities :

  • Red (Highest Priority): Immediate resuscitation or limb/life saving surgery in next 6 hours. High priority is granted to victims whose immediate or long term prognosis can be extensively affected by simple intensive care.
  • Yellow (Medium Priority): Possible resuscitation or limb/life saving surgery in next 24 hours.
  • Green (Low Priority): Minor illness/AMBULATORY patients.
  • Black (Least Priority): Dead and moribund patients. Moribund patients who require a great deal of attention, with questionable benefit, have the least priority.


  • Tagging is the procedure where identification, name, age, place of origin, triage category, diagnosis and initial treatment are tagged on to every victim of disaster through a Colour Coding.

Triage is of two types :

  • Simple triage : Simple triage is used in a scene of mass casualty, in order to sort patients into those who need critical attention and immediate transport to the hospital and those with less serious injuries
  • Rapid triage : S.T.A.R.T. (Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment) is a simple triage system that can be performed by lightly-trained lay and emergency personnel in emergencies

Reverse Triage : In addition to the standard practices of triage as mentioned above, there are conditions where sometimes the less wounded are treated in preference to the more severely wounded. This may arise in,

  • A situation such as war where the military setting may require soldiers be returned to combat as quickly as possible
  • Disaster situations where medical resources are limited in order to conserve resources for those likely to survive but requiring advanced medical care.
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