Thursday, December 14, 2023

EMS Incident Management - START v SALT Triage Systems

EMS providers need to be knowledgeable about the skill of triaging, which involves prioritizing patients based on the severity of their condition in order to allocate resources effectively.

When comparing the START (Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment) and SALT (Sort, Assess, Lifesaving Interventions, Treatment/Transport) models, here are some pros and cons to consider:

START Model:

START was developed by the Newport Beach Fire and Marine Department and Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California in 1983.


1. Simplicity: The START model is straightforward and easy to learn, allowing for rapid implementation in chaotic situations.

2. Speed: It enables quick initial assessment and sorting of patients, allowing prioritization of resources for those with the most critical injuries.

3. Field-based: The START model is primarily designed for use in prehospital or field settings, making it suitable for EMS providers.


1. Limited Assessment: The START model focuses primarily on identifying patients who require immediate lifesaving interventions, potentially overlooking patients with less severe injuries or illnesses.

2. Lack of Treatment Guidance: It provides minimal guidance on treatments beyond immediate lifesaving interventions, which may be a limitation in certain situations.

3. Overtriage: There is a tendency for a higher rate of overtriage, which means some patients may be categorized as more severe than they actually are, potentially diverting resources from those who need them most.

SALT Model:

It was developed as a national all-hazards mass casualty initial triage standard for all patients.


1. Comprehensive Assessment: The SALT model incorporates a more thorough assessment of patients, including physiological and anatomical criteria, to triage patients effectively.

2. Treatment Considerations: It provides guidance on appropriate treatments based on the patient's condition, facilitating decision-making for EMS providers.

3. Flexibility: The SALT model can be adaptable to different scenarios and can be used in both prehospital and hospital settings.


1. Complexity: Compared to the START model, the SALT model may require additional training and practice to ensure accurate implementation.

2. Time-Consuming: The comprehensive assessment involved in the SALT model may take longer to complete, potentially delaying the allocation of resources in time-sensitive situations.

3. Potential Subjectivity: The SALT model relies on clinical judgment, which introduces the possibility of variability in decision-making between different providers.

Ultimately, the choice between the START and SALT models depends on the specific needs of the EMS provider and the context in which they are operating.

Both models have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is crucial for EMS providers to receive proper training in the chosen model to ensure effective triage in emergency situations.

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