Every Tuesday night the team at South Whidbey Fire/EMS trains to keep skills sharp and to adopt new requirements and techniques for first responders. Recently the focus was on organizing and running a multiple casualty incident (MCI) with Incident Command System, SALT triage and communication training.

“In today’s realm of possible emergencies with multiple trauma, from natural disasters to mass shootings, we need to be prepared to respond to these tragic events,” said Deputy Chief for Training Wendy Moffatt. “This type of training helps us maintain our skill sets and prepares us for when our community calls us for help.”

SALT stands for Sort, Assess, Lifesaving interventions, Treatment and/or Transport. The SALT process has been around since 2011 as a result of a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to scientifically evaluate the effectiveness of field triage. While START was good, SALT was determined to be far better. The lifesaving intervention aspect was the key change.

It has been endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, the American Trauma Society, and the National Association of EMS Physicians. Here in Washington, SALT is being adopted in most of the state EMS and Trauma Care Council regions. Whidbey Island is in the North Region.

In the past, the department used the START method, which stands for Simple, Triage, and Rapid Treatment, which was developed in 1983. With START, first responders would carry the first available victim out, whatever that patient’s condition. This meant the victim in the last room down the hallway with the same injury, may have a higher mortality rate.

Statistics have shown if responders can provide basic hemorrhage control measures to the victims sooner, the victims survival rates significantly improve. This is a goal for SALT triage. The first wave of responders assess, tag and initiate lifesaving skills, then move on to the next.

“SALT is a triage system that helps get lifesaving skills to more patients faster,” Moffatt added. “The procedure is being adopted nationwide, and is how we will operate. It is incumbent upon each of us to train and provide the most up to date protocols to the citizens we serve. Our volunteer firefighters and EMS members work extremely hard to maintain their committed level of service. I am proud of the work they perform.”