Paramedic accuracy using SALT triage after a brief initial training

Matthew R. Deluhery, E. Brooke Lerner, Ronald G. Pirrallo, Richard B. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine paramedics' understanding of and accuracy using SALT (sortassesslifesaving interventionstreatment/transport) triage, a proposed national guideline for primary triage during mass-casualty incidents, immediately and four months after training. Methods. A 20-minute lecture on SALT triage was provided to all paramedics (n = 320) from a single county during mandatory continuing education. Triage concepts were reemphasized during a 10-minute small-group lecture throughout the study period as part of standard refresher training. After the initial training, all paramedics were asked to complete a posttest consisting of three general knowledge questions about SALT triage and 10 patient scenarios in which they had to assign a triage category. The same test was administered four months after the original educational session. Demographic and job experience information was also obtained. Responses were scored and matched for each paramedic and compared using paired t-test. Results. A total of 290 (91%) paramedics completed the initial posttest. They correctly answered an average (± standard deviation) of 10.7 ± 2.3 of the 13 questions (82%). For the 10 patient scenarios, they correctly triaged an average of 8.1 ± 2.0 patients. A total of 159 paramedics completed both tests. Sixty-seven percent had more than 10 years of emergency medical services (EMS) experience; 72% had prior mass-casualty drill experience; 51% had prior actual mass-casualty experience; and 23% had heard of SALT triage prior to the training. There were no statistically significant differences in initial test scores for any of these demographic groups. For those subjects who completed both tests, the mean overall score for the initial test was 10.9 ± 1.9 (84%) and for the later test was 11.0 ± 1.9 (85%) (p < 0.770; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.3 to 0.3). For the 10 patient scenarios, the paramedics correctly triaged an average of 8.3 ± 1.7 patients on the initial test and 8.3 ±1.4 patients on the later test (p < 0.565; 95% CI 0.4 to 0.2). Conclusion. Following a short didactic course, paramedics were able to accurately perform SALT triage during a written scenario. Four months after the training, they had retained their understanding of and accuracy using SALT triage. It appears that a brief educational tool was effective for training EMS providers in SALT triage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-532
Number of pages7
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • Disaster
  • Emergency medical services
  • SALT triage
  • Triage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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