Global & Disaster Medicine

Triage in Las Vegas


“…..The injured had been tagged with color-coded stickers on their bodies by a first responder team doing triage. Patients tagged in green had minor injuries. Those with yellow tags had non-life threatening injuries. A red tag meant that the patient had life-threatening injuries and needed to be transported immediately to a hospital. Those tagged in black were dying or expecting to die.

“We had to take the red-tagged patients first,” he says. “But it’s not always that easy. People were begging me to take them because they were in so much pain. One woman grabbed at my ankle and we locked eyes. All she could say was ‘please.’ She had tears all over her face. But she was tagged in yellow, and there were people in red. So I had to say, ‘I’m so sorry. Someone will be back for you soon.’

There was another man who was tagged green sitting next to a yellow,” he continues. “He said, ‘please help my girlfriend,’ but I couldn’t.”

The first patient they took was a woman with a gunshot wound to the chest. “She wasn’t able to breathe,” he says. “She was in really bad condition. We took her to the [ambulance] and to the hospital. Dispatch told us to go right back for more patients.”

He does not know if the woman survived or not…..”

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