Importance of Marking PTs in Mass-casualty

In the study below, results indicate that marking casualties during the initial phase of mass-casualty management with both color tags and glow-sticks of corresponding color increases evacuation times remarkably. Furthermore, doing so reduces error rates when rescuers reenter the scene to evacuate previously sorted patients. In a non-tactical environment, using glow-sticks in conjunction with tags is permissible. At a minimum, you should carry a kit containing a set of glow-sticks, zone-marker tape, and a tracking system in order to facilitate the movement of patients on and off the scene.  Having the above items will allow you to set-up three sectors and a control point that rescuers can see from a distance in low-visibility situations.

Casualty Collection


Introduction: Mass-casualty incidents (MCIs) are on the rise. The ability to locate, identify, and triage patients quickly and efficiently results in better patient outcomes. Poor lighting due to time of day, inclement weather, and power outages can make locating patients difficult. Efficient methods of locating patients allow for quicker transport to definitive care.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the methods currently used in mass-casualty collection, and to determine whether the use of the Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) triage tag system can be improved by using easily discernable tags (glow sticks) in conjunction with the standard triage tags.

Methods: Numerous drills were performed utilizing the START triage method. In Trial A, patients were identified with the triage tags only. In Trial B, patients were identified using triage tags and glow sticks. Four rounds of triage drills were performed in low ambient light for each Trial, and the differences in casualty collection times were compared.

Results: Casualty relocation and collection times were considerably shorter in the trials that utilized both the glow sticks and triage tags.An average of 2.58 minutes (31.75%) were saved during the casualty collections. In addition, fewer patient errors occurred during the trials in which the glow sticks were used. Between the four rounds, an average of four patient errors occurred during the trials that utilized the triage tags. However, there was an average of only one patient error for the drills when participants utilized both the triage tags and the glow sticks.

Conclusions: The use of the highly visible glow sticks, in conjunction with the START triage tags, allowed for more rapid and accurate casualty collection in suboptimal lighting.The use of the glow sticks made it easier to relocate previously triaged patients and arrange for expeditious transport to definitive care. In addition, the glow sticks reduced the number of patient errors. Most importantly, there was a significant reduction in the number of patients that initially were triaged via the START method, but were overlooked during casualty collection and transport.

1 reply
  1. starlight_cdn
    starlight_cdn says:

    Use the US Nine Liner casualty system when assigning priorities….for the sake of simplicity. CSMs that control the evac are not medical and need simplicity. The reality is that it will be done with IR glowsticks. Taliban tends to shoot at glowy things. He is funny that way. IR glowsticks are quite visible under NVDs. And it is really simple…

    1 IR glowstick is urgent/urgent surgical like in a Nine Liner.

    2 IR glowstick is priority like in a Nine Liner.

    3 IR glowsticks is routine like in a Niner Liner.

    No glowstick means no care required… usually not in your CCP anyway.

    CCP is marked with and IR MS 2000 or Vehicle Strobe and/or panel marker. For daylight MasCal, which can be as many as two cas depending on your ptl size, use veh flags to mark pos’n for drop off….however, the triage commander should be there to direct incoming cas.

    AS you probably know, the NATO urban marking system is oretty standard throughout our allies. Yellow is the colour for CAS. I would not reccommend throwing around any glowsticks or flags of any other colour at your CCP. Red, green and blue mean totally different things in MOUT/Urban Ops. A urgent/urgent surgery Cas loses his red glowstick in the wrong spot during the CoE and a whole other mess would happen by follow on forces!!!

    As for carrying glowstick in your IFAK….No! Not enough space. Carry more Kerlix and Gun Tape.



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