Use of SALT triage in a simulated mass-casualty incident

E. Brooke Lerner, Richard B. Schwartz, Phillip L. Coule, Ronald G. Pirrallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Objectives. To determine the accuracy of SALT (sortassesslifesaving interventionstreatment/transport) triage during a simulated mass-casualty incident, the average time it takes to make triage designations, and providers' opinions of SALT triage. Methods. Seventy-three trainees participating in one of two disaster courses were taught to use SALT triage during a 30-minute lecture. The following day they participated in teams, in one of eight simulated mass-casualty incidents. For each incident trainees were told to assess and prioritize all victims. Each scenario comprised 28 to 30 victims, including 10 to 11 moulaged manikins and 18 to 20 moulaged actors. Each victim had a card that stated the victim's respiratory effort, pulse quality, and ability to follow commands. Initial and final assigned triage categories were recorded and compared with the intended category. Ten of the victims were equipped with stopwatches to measure the triage time interval. Timing began when the trainee approached the victim and ended when the trainee verbalized his or her triage designation. The times were averaged and standard deviations were calculated. After the drill, trainees were asked to complete a survey regarding their experience. Results. There were 217 victim observations. The initial triage was correct for 81 of the observations; 8 were overtriaged and 11 were undertriaged. The final triage was correct for 83 of the observations; 6 were overtriaged and 10 were undertriaged. The mean triage interval was 28 seconds (± 22; range: 494). Nine percent reported that prior to the drill they felt very confident using SALT triage and 33 were not confident. After the drill, no one reported not feeling confident using SALT triage, 26 were at the same level of confidence, 74 felt more confident, and none felt less confident. Before the drill, 53 of the respondents felt SALT triage was easier to use than their current disaster triage protocol, 44 felt it was similar, and 3 felt it was more difficult. After the drill, no one reported that SALT triage was more difficult to use. Conclusion. We found that assessments using SALT triage were accurate and made quickly during a simulated incident. The accuracy rate was higher than those published for other triage systems and of similar speed. Providers also felt confident using SALT triage and found it was similar or easier to use than their current triage protocol. Using SALT triage during a drill improved confidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-25
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Disaster
  • Emergency medical services: triage
  • SALT triage
  • Triage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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