This session provides participants with an understanding of emergency medicine and how it fits into the overall health care profession.


  • Health
  • Emergency Medicine


By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the differences between emergency department triage and mass casualty incidents (MCI) triage.
  • Understand the principles of triage.
  • Apply triage principles to patient scenarios.


Note: Advisors should preview the video before showing it to Explorers to make sure it is appropriate for the post.

  • Computer or other device for showing video
  • Triage chart—download the Simplified Flowchart from http://citmt.org/Start/flowchart.htm and print one copy for each participant
  • Triage Assessment Exercise—download from http://citmt.org/Start/exercise.htm and print one copy for each participant
  • Triage Assessment Answers—download from http://citmt.org/Start/answers.htm; print a copy for use as needed, either one per participant or one for Advisor only
  • Optional—obtain permission and line up presenters for a tour of an emergency department


Text in italics should be read aloud to participants. As you engage your post in activities each week, please include comments, discussions, and feedback to the group relating to Character, Leadership, and Ethics. These are important attributes that make a difference in the success of youth in the workplace and in life.




Tell the Explorers: Triage means to sort.


Present the differences between triage in the emergency department and triage during a mass casualty.

  • Emergency department triage
  • Classifies patients according to type and urgency of conditions to get the right patient to the right place at the right time, with the right provider and right treatment
  • Identifies patients requiring immediate care
  • Determines the appropriate treatment area within the emergency department
  • Facilitates patient flow throughout the emergency department to avoid unnecessary congestion
  • Determines which patients can safely wait in the waiting area when the emergency department is busy while continuing to monitor and reassess those patients
  • Mass casualty incident (MCI) triage
  • Sorts patients so that care can be provided for those in the greatest need first
  • Identifies obvious life-threatening conditions (e.g., airway, breathing, circulation, disability/neurologic) and initiates life-sustaining care
  • Identifies those with less threatening injuries who can wait for treatment


Show participants the video “CERT Triage: Handling Mass Casualty Situations.” Then distribute the handouts and have participants use the Simplified Flowchart to apply triage principles to the scenarios presented in the Triage Assessment Exercise activity sheet.


Tell participants: Determine which category the patient falls in and identify which immediate treatment, if appropriate, should be started.


As an alternative to using the Triage Assessment Exercise activity sheet, you may have volunteers act out the scenarios. This will be fun for the youth and help them understand the material better because they will “experience” the scenario. If you use this method, plan on a little extra time to run the scenarios.

Use the answer key to conduct a discussion about the correct emergency response in each situation.


As an optional activity, the post may tour an emergency department. Be sure to make arrangements in advance.


Some sample questions are below. They are designed to help the participants apply what they have learned to their own interests. You are welcome to use these questions or develop your own questions that relate to your post or specific focus area.


Focusing Questions

  • What safety concerns can you think of for consideration during MCI triage?
  • What did you learn during today’s discussion?

Analysis Questions

  • Discuss the choices participants made during the triage exercise.
  • What ethical considerations arise during MCI triage? (Did it bother you to tag someone as dead?)

Generalization Questions

  • What can you do now, during your time as a student, to ready yourself to make appropriate workplace decisions?
  • Why is this topic important?
Emergency Medicine Lesson
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