Research Paper on Triage Nursing
What is a disaster? When two cars crash into each other due to reckless driving, can it be called a disaster? Such case scenario may be an emergency but it cannot be considered a disaster because the word disaster paints a bigger picture, a larger scale of emergency. Veenema comprehensively defined disaster as any catastrophic situation in which the normal patterns of life (or ecosystems) have been disrupted and extraordinary, emergency interventions are required to save and preserve human lives and/or the environment. (4)
Disaster can happen anywhere and at any time, some, when people least expect it. It may be caused by nature like earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, avalanche and tsunamis. Disasters may also be caused by man’s actions and errors (man-made) such as war, terrorism, collapse of a poorly built building, plane crash, and train collisions among others. When disaster strikes, it affects a lot of people’s lives, it may cause death, sickness and damages to properties. After the devastation has passed, the community needs people who will help them rise again and part of the team that responds to such need are nurses. Nurses do not function only in the hospital, their expertise and training also come handy in times of disasters. When needed, nurses are deployed to the field where victims are and when in such set-up, they will then apply their know-how in triage nursing.
Triage is the process of sorting or classifying patient’s based on their condition with consideration that there is a limitation to the medical resources available. When arriving at the scene of disaster, it is expected that there are many victims and the demand for health care and resources would exceed the supply present at the moment thus responders such as paramedics and triage nurses move quickly to classify and prioritize. In times of disaster, triage nursing focuses on being able to help the most number of victims possible and adheres to the color coding scheme. Using their assessment skills, triage nurses help in tagging the victims according to the following categories as stipulated in the fact sheet Disaster Triage:
RED- IMMEDIATE: serious injuries or medical problems (salvageable life threatening problems, taking into account the resources available)
YELLOW- DELAYED: treatment and transportation can be delayed while more seriously injured persons receive care. Second priority
GREEN- MINOR: patients who can ambulate to an alternative location without assistance
BLACK- DEAD/DYING: patients who do not resume spontaneous breathing after positioning of the head and have no spontaneous pulse.
The victims tagged with RED receive the highest priority followed by YELLOW as the second priority, GREEN as third priority and BLACK as the lowest priority. In contrast to the hospital setting, patients who are critical or dying receive the least priority when it comes to the field because of the limited resources.
Triage nursing aims to save lives and provide care to as many victims as possible. Along with other health care professionals, they are the working force of the community in healing and rebuilding lives after a disaster.
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