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Central Australia hosts roll-out of Trauma Centre’s disaster tagging system

More than 30 remote health centres in Central Australia are the focus of the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre’s roll-out of the state of the art SMART Tag disaster triage system.

“The SMART Tag system is an internationally-recognised disaster triage tagging system which is already used successfully in Queensland, WA and Tasmania,” said Dr Ian Norton, the NCCTRC’s Director of Disaster Preparedness and Response.

“The system combines patient identification and the assessment of injuries to ensure appropriate treatment and transport of patients in mass casualty situations.”

Research undertaken by the NCCTRC has led to the system being adopted as the Australian standard. The NCCTRC was set up in 2005 in the wake of the first Bali bombings, and is based at Royal Darwin Hospital. Its focus is northern Australia and neighbouring countries such as Timor-Leste and eastern Indonesia.

The NCCTRC has funded the roll out of the SMART Tag system to all Department of Health remote health centres in the NT. The Top End rollout will commence later this year.

The new SMART Tags replace a number of variations of triage tags previously used across Australian jurisdictions, including the ‘cruciform’ tags.

“The SMART Tags will improve the process of prioritising patients at major incident sites,” Dr Norton added.

“The tags are waterproof, resistant to tearing, and can be written on with almost any type of pen or pencil.

“The SMART Tag system is an improved method of documenting patient conditions and treatment, particularly in remote areas of the Northern Territory where two clinic staff often need to initially deal with multiple casualties at road accidents such as the 17 injured at Palumpa in 2006.”

The move to standardise the mass casualty triage tag used across the country has been endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Committee.