Combat triage

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  • Triage refers to sorting of patients by immediate medical need
  • In a combat scenario, there are limited resources for treatment and transport, as well as tactical considerations for medical care


  1. Accomplish the greatest good for the greatest number of casualties
  2. Employ the most efficient use of available resources
  3. Return personnel to duty as soon as possible

Combat Triage Categories



  • These are the walking wounded
  • These should be treated by self-aid or Combat Life Saver
  • They can be used to continue the mission but may need to play an augmented role
  • Injuries may include small burns, lacerations, abrasions, and small fractures



  • These patients are more seriously injuried
  • They may eventually need surgical intervention
  • Their general condition allows for treatment to be delays without endangering life or limb
  • Medical treatment (splinting, pain control, etc.) will be required but it can wait
  • Injuries may include hemodynamically stable patients with large soft tissue wounds, long bone fractures, intra-abdominal or thoracic wounds, or burns to less than 20% of total body surface area



  • These patients require immediate life saving intervention
  • Locate these individuals as quickly as possible
  • If not triaged and treated, they will die
  • Injuries may include hemodynamically unstable patients with airway involvement, chest or abdominal injuries, massive external bleeding, or shock



  • In these patients, survival would be highly unlikely
  • If able, they should receive comfort measures, pain medications
  • Injuries may include penetrating or blunt head wounds and those with absent radial pulses


Combat Triage.PNG


  • Patients who can ambulate and follow instructions usually will fall into the minimal category
    • Statements such as “If you hear me, move behind this wall" can triage a large portion of the casualties in a short time
  • Patients with obvious signs of death should be considered Expectant
  • Massive bleeding can be life threatening and may need a tourniquet, a hemostatic agent, or a pressure bandage
    • Once life saving intervention is completed, they can be re-triaged

See Also