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The reality of multiple casualty triage: putting triage theory into practice at the scene of multiple casualty vehicular accidents
  1. P Arbon1,
  2. K Zeitz2,
  3. J Ranse3,
  4. H Wren4,
  5. R Elliott5,
  6. K Driscoll5
  1. 1
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
  2. 2
    St John Ambulance Australia Inc., Canberra, Australia
  3. 3
    Research Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Practice, University of Canberra and the Canberra Hospital, Canberra, Australia
  4. 4
    ACT Ambulance Service, Canberra, Australia
  5. 5
    SA Ambulance Service, Adelaide, Australia
  1. Professor P Arbon, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia, Australia; paul.arbon{at}


Objectives: The project investigated the experiences of ambulance paramedics in applying the principles and protocols of prehospital multiple casualty triage at the scene of motor vehicle accidents. Key objectives included investigation of the situational cues and other contextual factors influencing triage practice and the development of recommendations for the future education of ambulance paramedics.

Methods: A triangulated approach was used incorporating demographic data, the use of focus groups and in-depth interviews. A thematic analysis was undertaken following the well established practices of human science research.

Results and conclusions: The research describes an extended and broadened triage process returning to a more authentic definition of triage as the practice of sorting of casualties to determine priority. The findings highlight the need to consider triage as an extended and complex process that incorporates evidence based physiological cues to assist decision making and the management of the process of triage from call out to conclusion including assessment of contextual and situational variables.

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  • Funding: This project was funded by a research grant of the NRMA ACT Road Safety Trust: Australian Capital Territory.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Ethics approval: Ethics approval for the project was obtained from the ACT Health and Community Care Human Research Ethics Committee (ACTHREC) (ETH 3/05.190).