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Triage is a word that has been in use since the 1720s, which some may find surprising. We will examine the meaning of the word triage, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The word triage refers to a system in which priorities are sorted according to which ones are most immediate, the most urgent problems are taken care of before others. The term triage is most often applied to emergency medical situations, especially emergencies such as natural  disaster relief, on the battlefield, in a mass casualty situation such as a major public accident, and in the emergency department of a hospital. On the scene of an accident, the first responder is called upon to appropriately assess the condition of every victim, checking his pulse and other vital signs and making sure his airway is clear and the victim is breathing. The responder will then triage or prioritize transport according to his evidence-based observation of the urgency of each case, considering guidelines and protocol established by his emergency services department. Someone who is deceased is assigned the least priority. Attempting to evaluate casualties that are critically wounded  in a timely fashion is difficult, especially in situations such as terror attacks or mass catastrophes such as bridge collapses or train wrecks. While medical personnel are compassionate, they must dispassionately evaluate patients and assign priority status to victims who may have life threatening injuries due to trauma, but have a higher chance of survival with medical treatment. Victims with a high chance of mortality no matter what sort of medical resources are employed, do not usually receive immediate care. In a situation where there are many severely injured people, personnel may apply a triage tag to each victim in order to efficiently facilitate evacuation. Once the patients arrive by ambulance to the hospital emergency room, the emergency physician or nurse may go straight to work. Triage is not only for emergency care of large numbers of people. In some situations, especially in remote areas of the world, limited resources necessitate the identification of the patients who may benefit the most from medical intervention, without depleting resources to such a degree that there are none left for other patients.

The word triage comes from the French word triage, meaning sorting. The first use of the word was in 1727. However, the system of establishing criteria used in screening the severity of the wounded is credited to Dominique Jean Larrey, a French surgeon during the Napoleonic Wars. The term triage came into more common use during World War I. Triage may be used as a mass noun which is a noun that does not have a plural form, or as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are triages, triaged, triaging.


With final approvals in hand, the Crisis Triage Center and adjoining Pacific Hope and Recovery Center opened their doors Thursday in a building at the corner of Fuson Road and Almira Drive that was formerly home to Kitsap Recovery Center. (The Kitsap Sun)

The School-Age Trauma Training program will aim to teach high school students medical triage and bleeding control techniques to help victims who have sustained traumatic injuries until first responders arrive. (Time Magazine)

As a result, the primary objective of frontline providers in primary care and emergency medicine is to triage infants to the appropriate level of care (ie, home, hospital ward, or intensive care) for their hydration and respiratory needs. (Pediatrics Magazine)

The police witness said that last October an associate of the defendant had his mobile phone seized and triaged as part of an ongoing drugs investigation and a series of message exchanges were found on that phone linked to the defendant’s mobile. (The Belfast Telegraph)