At any mass-casualty incident, triage is of the utmost importance – prioritizing which victims are treated first, based on the severity of their injuries. Developed by scientists from Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the new RescueWave system is designed to make the process much more efficient.

Traditional triage systems incorporate colored paper slingcards that are placed on each patient, indicating the seriousness of their condition. Medical teams have to go around and look at each of these cards, in order to determine who needs their help most urgently.

RescueWave, however, is electronic. It incorporates small splash-proof devices known as Rescue.Nodes, which are placed on patients in place of slingcards. Simply by twisting a dial on the device, users can indicate how severly the person is injured.

The node proceeds to transmit its GPS coordinates to a Rescue.Board computer system. Using tablets, laptops or a central computer to access that system, medical teams will see a map of the area with the location of each node/patient on it – a color-coding system indicates which victims need tending to the soonest. This means that the teams can proceed directly to those locations first, plus it gives them a sense of the number of casualties, and the geographical extent of the site.

RescueWave has been successfully tested by emergency response teams, and is reportedly soon to be commercialized. A similar system, eTriage, was previously developed by the EU-funded BRIDGE project.

Sources: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, RescueWave