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SALT: Be taught The SALT Triage Technique

It has been stated that rendering assist throughout a mass casualty incident (MCI) is attempting to create order out of chaos. When most individuals hear the time period “mass casualty incident,” it conjures up photographs of main catastrophic occasions: hurricanes, terrorist assaults, airplane crashes, and so forth. These are all prime examples to make sure, however an MCI can occur anytime and wherever. Merely put, an MCI is any state of affairs by which these needing assist outnumber these capable of present it. In these situations, the SALT triage approach is a strong device.

The occurrences of MCIs are few and much between. However sadly, not as few and never as far between as one may suppose. They are often naturally occurring or man-made, unintended or intentional. Pure disasters, hostile occasions, civil unrest, even multi-passenger car accidents — to call a number of — occur throughout us at an alarming fee. Think about you’re close to, and even concerned in an MCI, however are lucky sufficient to be minimally injured or utterly unhurt. In lots of conditions, first responders are instantly on their method. In others, emergency response assets are far-off or overwhelmed and assist could possibly be hours and even days away.

Bicycle accident , man hit by a car

Above: Mass casualty occasions aren’t simply shootings or terrorist assaults. They’re typically unintended — for instance, car crashes involving a number of pedestrians.

There are a number of choices at that time: You would decide the disaster is the accountability of those that are skilled to offer assist and stand apart, or you might do no matter you may, no matter coaching, to offer help. Clearly, performing superior medical procedures exterior of your scope of coaching is a foul concept, however there are lots of issues you are able to do as a bystander that would immensely assist a scenario. In these situations, Good Samaritan legal guidelines present cowl for these performing in good religion and never gross negligence.


This can be a basic overview and never a complete information to triage or trauma care. Each time doable, name paramedics and defer to their experience as soon as they arrive.

What You Can Do

First issues first — at all times carry out throughout the scope of your coaching. Regardless of what you see within the films, utilizing a knife and a straw to carry out an emergency tracheotomy, for the overwhelming majority of us, is a actually unhealthy concept. Likewise, using a makeshift electrical wire defibrillator or stabbing somebody within the coronary heart with something, Pulp Fiction type, must be prevented in each circumstance. That stated, though nearly all of most people has little to no formal medical instruction, there’s nonetheless a variety of good that may be completed.

From above senior man lying on spinal board and talking with emergency service workers during rescue mission on remains of demolished building

Above: Pure disasters equivalent to earthquakes and tornadoes are one other widespread supply of mass casualty incidents.

For the sake of this text, allow us to assume you don’t have any medical coaching or certifications that might can help you carry out any procedures past elementary first assist. Being a primary responder for the previous 25 years, I can inform you there are fundamental abilities and actions most people, with out medical credentials, are capable of carry out which may have an excellent impression on the general end result of an MCI. The overarching objective shall be to assist as many individuals as doable by spreading and using the out there assets as effectively as doable. Typically, the out there useful resource is solely you.


There are a lot of elements with regards to sorting sufferers. Whilst you might not know the precise quantity concerned, you can also make tough estimates. Did this incident occur at a crowded shopping center or at a bus cease? The rationale it issues is since you’ll must determine a protected location to judge accidents. It’s crucial that you’ve got the most secure doable place to corral them. The best location is uphill and upwind of the incident that’s protected, safe, and permits simple ingress and egress for transporting items. It isn’t typically, although, that a really perfect location is on the market. Select the closest protected location that you could find.

Remedy and Transport Location Concerns:

  • Bodily location: safely away/shut sufficient to be sensible
  • Protected against ongoing/extra hazard
  • Entry and egress
  • Structural hazards
  • Climate publicity
  • Wind course
  • Time of day/lighting
  • Hazardous supplies runoff
  • Entry to first assist provides if out there

Paramedics providing first aid to man injured in car accident.

Above: Skilled first responders can’t be in every single place directly. As a ready particular person, try to be able to render assist and stabilize sufferers till the cavalry arrives.

Private Protecting Gear

Stating that one shouldn’t render first assist with out full private protecting tools, though correct, could be not possible in most mass casualty situations. Those that carry first assist kits on their individual, of their packs, or of their autos shall be higher ready than most to guard themselves from blood-borne pathogens, airborne contaminants, and environmental elements just like the climate and the cruel incident atmosphere. The unpredictability of an MCI just about assures us that we gained’t have all of the wanted PPE provides with us within the second. The take-home message: Do the most effective you may to guard your self and others when offering assist.

Minimal Beneficial PPE:

  • Work gloves or nitrile medical gloves
  • Security glasses
  • Surgical masks or respirator
  • Listening to safety (for loud environments)
  • Climate and atmosphere acceptable clothes


As beforehand talked about, doing the best good for the best variety of folks is the target in a mass casualty state of affairs. One of the crucial efficient methods to do this is to find out who has fast medical wants versus these whose accidents aren’t life threatening and subsequently remedy might be delayed. Triage is a French phrase which means “to kind.” Origins of triage date again centuries however the fashionable apply is believed to have been traced again to Napoleon’s military. In any state of affairs the place the variety of sufferers outnumbers those that are there to offer assist, they should be “sorted” by order of medical precedence.

Sorting sufferers is usually a fluid and considerably subjective expertise, significantly with out the help of medical tools to make any particular and verifiable prognosis. The fluidity of triage lies in the truth that it’s ongoing. It’s not a one-time prevalence. The atmosphere can enhance, alter, or deteriorate, generally drastically. The identical might be stated for the situation of a affected person, which is why a constant cycle of triage and re-triage is vital. It begins with the preliminary division of these affected.

A girl assisting a fainted man.

Above: People who’re respiratory however not shifting are categorized as “Crimson” and must be assessed first.

SALT Triage

There are a selection of the way to divide sufferers by medical precedence. One of the crucial broadly adopted strategies to rapidly decide the potential severity of accidents to sufferers and triage them into prioritized classes is to make use of SALT Triage. Kind, Assess, Lifesaving interventions, and Remedy and/or Transport give us the acronym: SALT. This technique was developed in 2006 by a Middle for Illness Management (CDC) workgroup made up of the Nationwide Affiliation of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) and has been proposed because the nationwide commonplace for mass casualty triage. SALT is scalable — it may be utilized in a catastrophic MCI or when it’s merely you with two sufferers.

SALT outlines a commonsense strategy to managing a mass casualty incident by presenting easy sure or no questions, permitting you to quickly decide who probably has the best medical wants and will obtain precedence remedy. The time period “probably” is used as a result of, though SALT is broadly adopted, it’s much less a complicated medical course of and extra of a down-and-dirty, in-the-field, best-educated guess.

It must be famous that SALT Triage is a diagnostic device to be used with grownup sufferers solely. In an MCI, you might have to use some judgment when figuring out if a affected person is taken into account an grownup or baby. As a fundamental rule, if the affected person is sufficiently big to be or seems like an grownup, deal with them as an grownup.


Step one in SALT Triage is to kind sufferers into manageable teams by dividing them into 4 classes: Those that can stroll, those that can’t stroll however could make purposeful motion and observe easy instructions, those that are respiratory however not shifting, and people who aren’t respiratory. Sufferers are divided into 4 coloured classes:

  • Inexperienced: strolling wounded. Assess third.
  • Yellow: injured however with purposeful motion. Assess second.
  • Crimson: respiratory however not shifting/nonetheless. Assess first.
  • Black: not respiratory and/or with accidents in keeping with apparent dying. Deceased. Go away in place.

To start, shout one thing like, “Should you can stroll, come over right here!” Direct these folks to a protected location to await remedy and transport. These folks will nonetheless require analysis however are third in your precedence record. In truth, in lots of instances, your greens, or the “strolling wounded,” can be utilized that can assist you kind and deal with your reds and yellows. Put them to work.

Subsequent, ask anybody who’s damage, however can’t stroll to observe a easy command. “Increase your hand in case you are damage however can’t transfer.” Those that reply shall be your “yellows” and, if protected to take action, must be left in place for the second. You and people who can be found that can assist you, ought to instantly handle those that aren’t responsive. They’re doubtless critically injured or deceased. There shall be exceptions to those guidelines, however this can be a time-critical strategy of numbers. It’s going to consist of creating assumptions and educated guesses.

Injured bleeding man lying on the pedestrian crossing after the road accident.

Above: If a affected person isn’t respiratory after you’ve adjusted their airway, you’ll have to maneuver on to the subsequent affected person. There’s no time for CPR in a mass casualty occasion.

Assess – Crimson: The sufferers you deem must be assessed first.

Are they respiratory? If not, you need to alter the airway. If there are nonetheless no respirations, they’re deceased. There’s no time for CPR in a mass casualty incident. Do they obey instructions? Have they got a peripheral pulse? Are they respiratory usually? Can their bleeding be merely managed? If the reply is not any to any of those questions, they’re a “purple” precedence affected person and fast lifesaving interventions must be carried out. The evaluation of a purple affected person is considerably fundamental: alter the airway in the event that they aren’t respiratory or struggling to breathe, management main bleeding, and have them transported as rapidly as doable. The sorting, evaluation, and interventions ought to take not more than 1 minute per affected person.

Lifesaving Interventions:

  • Regulate airway (head tilt/chin raise)
  • Management main bleeding (tourniquet/strain factors)

Remedy and/or Transport:

Transfer instantly to a remedy space for remedy and expedited transport.

Assess – Yellow: The sufferers you deem to be assessed second.

What are the extent of their accidents? A yellow affected person can merely be anybody in between the strolling wounded and important. In case your confidence and luxury degree enable, there are some fundamental assessments you may execute in an effort to higher consider the standing of the affected person. On this collection of fast assessments, sufferers might be re-triaged as purple or inexperienced. There are three areas to judge:

  1. Psychological Standing: A fast technique to decide the psychological standing of a affected person is the AVPU scale. The AVPU acronym stands for alert, verbal, painful, unresponsive. This analysis signifies if a affected person is awake and might observe instructions (alert), they reply to verbal stimulus however aren’t capable of reply easy questions or observe instructions (verbal), they reply to painful stimulus equivalent to a sternal rub (painful), or are altogether unresponsive. Any affected person who falls underneath V, P, or U must be re-triaged as purple.
  2. Respirations: If affected person respirations are over 30 per minute, they need to be re-triaged as purple.
  3. Perfusion: Press the fingernail mattress of the affected person (if there’s no nail polish current). The strain will trigger the nail mattress to show white and will return to pink in lower than 2 seconds after your launch. This can be a measure of capillary refill. If shade doesn’t return in underneath 2 seconds, there could possibly be an inner perfusion problem and they need to be re-triaged purple.

First Aid - doing a Capillary refill test. Capillary refill time is defined as the time taken for color to return to an external capillary bed after pressure is applied to cause blanching.

Above: Urgent and releasing a affected person’s fingernail may help you gauge capillary refill. If shade stays white for greater than 2 seconds, there could also be a circulatory drawback.

Lifesaving Interventions:

Not wanted for yellow sufferers. Care of the “yellow” sufferers will happen as soon as the essential sufferers have been addressed. Yellow remedy will happen in place, or ideally, in a chosen remedy space.

Remedy and/or Transport:

Transfer, when doable, to the remedy space for transport after precedence sufferers (reds) are off the scene and en path to superior care.

Tagging Sufferers

Photo of a casualty triage tag. Photo of a casualty triage tag.

That is an instance of a triage accountability tag utilized by first responders after rapidly performing a SALT Triage and figuring out the triage “shade” of the affected person.


With out query, documentation would be the lowest precedence and final step of any kind of MCI. It’s, nonetheless, an vital one. If assets enable, it’d be significantly useful to first responders, relations of these concerned, and post-incident investigators to designate a scribe. Affected person names, descriptions, extent of accidents, location they had been discovered, and the place they had been transported to are all significant items of data. The probability of getting all obligatory data is minimal, however something you may doc could be much more dependable than your reminiscence after a significant traumatic occasion.

It could possibly be one thing so simple as: Hispanic male, 40s, blue denims, and long-sleeve white shirt. Discovered unresponsive close to the south door. Relocated to remedy middle. Unknown transport vacation spot. Earlier than the incident winds down, you might be certain relations are going to be determined for data relating to their family members.


There isn’t a lot that may put together you for the impression of experiencing firsthand harm and dying on a mass scale. You’ll be able to anticipate an MCI to be each chaotic and emotional. There shall be ideas, emotions, and reactions that you could be not anticipate or be ready for. First responders are skilled and geared up to handle a disaster — chances are you’ll or is probably not. What you are able to do, although, is be diligent in your readiness and, when the tragic scenario presents itself and you are able to do some good, do good for as many as you may. Lives might depend upon it.

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Editor’s Notice: This text has been modified from its unique model for the net.

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