In disasters, responders must evaluate the situation and prioritize their efforts in order to do the greatest good for the greatest number of subjects. Every avalanche search and rescue is different. The contents in this lesson provide guidelines to assist in complex multiple-burial rescues, especially when resources are overwhelmed.
Rescue triage is an initial assessment to help prioritize excavation when rescuers do not have direct physical contact with subjects. It considers the availability of rescue resources with survival likelihoods. The following factors influence the probability of survival in an avalanche:
1. Burial Depth Survival Chance:
2. Airway Status: (Assessed when uncovering the head).
3. Medical Condition.
4. Terrain Hazards.
Medical triage is the assessment of injuries that helps rescuers decide on how to allocate resources devoted to medical treatment. This assessment is conducted for each subject once he or she is extricated. The prioritization of medical care is guided by the following system:
Assign prioritization of avalanche victims using the following algorithm:
Tactical triage considers burial depth combined with the medical triage assessment. This system is only appropriate when the rescue team’s resources are overwhelmed.
Priority for evacuation must be determined as subjects are located, excavated, and assessed. Factors to consider in evacuation include:
Personnel assigned to transport subjects off-site must ensure that the Incident Commander is informed and the appropriate resources and subject status logs are updates.