An Australian mass casualty incident triage system for the future based upon triage mistakes of the past: the Homebush Triage Standard

Aust N Z J Surg. 1999 Aug;69(8):603-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1622.1999.01644.x.


Background: The purpose of this study was to create a system of mass casualty incident triage that provides a common language platform for both ambulance and hospital personnel based upon standard daily operating procedures for both groups.

Methods: An annotated literature review was conducted.

Results: The Homebush Triage Standard taxonomy consists of five categories: immediate, urgent, not urgent, dying and dead, which are given the phonetic alphabet designations of Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo, respectively, to facilitate radio voice communications. Colours are assigned to each category: red (Homebush Red), yellow (Homebush Gold), green (Homebush Green), white and black comply with Standards Australia AS-2700 1996 Colour Standard for General Purposes, to ensure triage materials have consistent production standards. Numbers are reserved to either quantify or stratify individuals within a particular triage category. The Homebush Triage Standard methodology is based on START (Simple Triage Assessment and Rapid Transport) and SAVE (Secondary Assessment of Victim Endpoint) and documents triage priority using geographic triage with triage flags, instead of triage tags.

Conclusion: The Homebush Triage Standard provides a basis for both seamless patient reassessment at all points along the casualty evacuation chain and the audit of the medical response to mass casualty incidents. It allows hospital and ambulance staff to keep working using familiar routines and removes fundamental barriers to good communication during a time of crisis.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Disaster Planning
  • Disasters*
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Triage / methods*
  • Triage / standards