Firefighters unveil new triage system at school drill

DOWNEY - Hoping to simplify the process of sorting, treating and transporting injured victims during an emergency, the Downey Fire Department, with the help of nearly 30 drama students, simulated a school shooting at Downey High School this week, allowing firefighters to test a new, streamlined triage system.Like a scene straight out of an action movie, more than 15 students laid lifeless inside the Allen Layne Stadium during the nearly 60-minute drill on Tuesday while Downey firefighters rushed to their aid with stretchers. One by one, each student was transported to a various triage tarp for treatment based upon their assigned condition. From head injuries to broken arms and legs, the students were all treated and prepped for transport by 21 firefighters in three separate areas for those with immediate, serious, and minor injuries. Entitled START (Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment), the new method for sorting out injured victims was recently revised to expedite the care and delivery of patients to local emergency rooms. According to the fire department, the drill was intended to "refine those changes and bring a coordinated, organized approach to often chaotic and emotional scenes." According to Fire Captain John Day, the biggest change to the triage system is the introduction of a color-coded ribbon system to help first responders better identify those most in need of medical attention during an emergency. "Prior to using the ribbon system, we used the tags," said Day. "But the ribbons are a quicker, more efficient way to get patients to triage sooner. We were trained on the system last week ‚àí we're getting tested on it this week." Day said if the system is approved, Downey would soon be the latest city to adopt the new method, which is already utilized by Los Angeles County, and the cities of Santa Fe Springs and Compton. "It's dependent on the budget, but that shouldn't be an obstacle. After day one, the system was met with positive remarks," said Day, who reinforced the importance of such emergency drills. "This is one of those things you train for all the time, but don't get to use, a high-risk, low-frequency event. But if it ever does occur, we want to be ready to respond."

********** Published: April 28, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 2