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EMS workers statewide to use new triage tags

January 31, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

In the upcoming months, emergency workers in Maryland will receive training on a new statewide tagging process for its triage system for multiple casualties, according to John Donohue, Region III administrator for the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems.

The process uses tags printed with numerous categories that are affixed to patient at accident scenes to indicate their medical conditions.

At a mass-casualty scene, medics initially evaluate each patient's condition and tie a colored band around his arm. This band indicates the severity of the medical problem, he said. Red tags are for the most severe cases, followed by yellow and then green.

Upon further examination, a medic will affix a 10-by-4-inch tag to the patient and fill out each appropriate category.

The tags use bar codes, stickers, diagrams and written descriptions of medical problems.

Multiple categories are listed on the tags, including triage status, transport records, vital signs, history and treatment, allowing medics to better keep continuous track of a patient's condition, Donohue said.

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The tags will be accounted for separately, and they can't be altered or thrown away, he said.

The triage method of classifying patients based on the severity of their symptoms is nothing new, but this system will help medics be more efficient, said Donohue.

The tags will now provide statewide uniformity in assessing patient conditions at a scene, and the stickers will eliminate the need to decipher medics' handwriting, he said.

The new polyster-coated Mylar tags also are waterproof, which is a benefit when treating patients in poor weather, he said.

Emergency medical professionals will be required to learn the new system as part of statewide protocols, he said.

About 70,000 tags were purchased and will be distributed across the state.

Funded by MIEMSS and the Maryland State Highway Administration, the tagging process is based on a system used by the Virginia Department of Health Office of Emergency Medical Services.

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