Pediatric Disaster Triage: Multiple Simulation Curriculum Improves Prehospital Care Providers’ Assessment Skills

Mark Xavier Cicero, Travis Whitfill, Frank Overly, Janette Baird, Barbara Walsh, Jorge Yarzebski, Antonio Riera, Kathleen Adelgais, Garth D. Meckler, Carl Baum, David Christopher Cone, Marc Auerbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) triage pediatric disaster victims infrequently. The objective of this study was to measure the effect of a multiple-patient, multiple-simulation curriculum on accuracy of pediatric disaster triage (PDT). Methods: Paramedics, paramedic students, and EMTs from three sites were enrolled. Triage accuracy was measured three times (Time 0, Time 1 [two weeks later], and Time 2 [6 months later]) during a disaster simulation, in which high and low fidelity manikins and actors portrayed 10 victims. Accuracy was determined by participant triage decision concordance with predetermined expected triage level (RED [Immediate], YELLOW [Delayed], GREEN [Ambulatory], BLACK [Deceased]) for each victim. Between Time 0 and Time 1, participants completed an interactive online module, and after each simulation there was an individual debriefing. Associations between participant level of training, years of experience, and enrollment site were determined, as were instances of the most dangerous mistriage, when RED and YELLOW victims were triaged BLACK. Results: The study enrolled 331 participants, and the analysis included 261 (78.9%) participants who completed the study, 123 from the Connecticut site, 83 from Rhode Island, and 55 from Massachusetts. Triage accuracy improved significantly from Time 0 to Time 1, after the educational interventions (first simulation with debriefing, and an interactive online module), with a median 10% overall improvement (p < 0.001). Subgroup analyses showed between Time 0 and Time 1, paramedics and paramedic students improved more than EMTs (p = 0.002). Analysis of triage accuracy showed greatest improvement in overall accuracy for YELLOW triage patients (Time 0 50% accurate, Time1 100%), followed by RED patients (Time 0 80%, Time 1 100%). There was no significant difference in accuracy between Time 1 and Time 2 (p = 0.073). Conclusion: This study shows that the multiple-victim, multiple-simulation curriculum yields a durable 10% improvement in simulated triage accuracy. Future iterations of the curriculum can target greater improvements in EMT triage accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-208
Number of pages8
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • children in disasters
  • disaster triage
  • emergency medical technicians
  • paramedics
  • simulation education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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