Session speaker announcement: Mr Cameron Anderson Clinical Support Officer and PhD student on mass-casualty triage algorithms

Cameron andersonWe are pleased to announce session speaker Mr Cameron Anderson Clinical Support Officer, Queensland Ambulance Service and PhD student of Edith Cowan University who will speak at the 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference 30-31 May 2016.

Mr Anderson will speak in the open topic stream on ‘Mass-casualty triage algorithms: in search of best practice’.

The application of algorithms to guide pre-hospital triage in mass-casualty incidents is well embedded in paramedic practice, with many such systems currently in use across the world. Such tools are, however, plagued by a paucity of evidence.

The difficulty of conducting high-quality prospective research during mass-casualty incidents has ensured that the algorithms in use today have little evidence to suggest that their use positively influences patient outcomes.

A literature review was conducted to critically analyse the literature as it relates to mass-casualty triage algorithms, with four distinct themes identified: the benefit and necessity of triage algorithms, the ability of responders to accurately apply an algorithm, education and training in mass-casualty triage, and the validation of pre-hospital triage tools.

It was determined that a formal triage system may only be of benefit if medical resources are overwhelmed to the point where patients must spend an extended period undergoing treatment at a casualty collection post; where sufficient transport resources are available, formal triage algorithms may only serve to impede scene clearance.

The accuracy with which responders apply algorithms remains a complicated issue; while it was found that algorithms inherently tend towards high under-triage and low over-triage rates, human factors reverse the trend: during simulations, clinicians tend to under-triage less and over-triage slightly more, and during ”real life” incidents, clinicians tend not to under-triage, at the cost of very high instances of over-triage.

Both under- and over-triage introduce risks to patient care, so vigilant algorithm design and optimal responder training are critical; but can the clinical judgement of responding clinicians ever be adequately replaced by an algorithm?

Mr Cameron Anderson is an Advanced Care Paramedic and Clinical Support Officer with Queensland Ambulance Service, with a total of thirteen years’ service across fire, urban search and rescue and ambulance. His areas of interest are management of major disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies, and he has served in many of the most significant disasters to impact Australia during his tenure, including the 2009 Victorian bushfires and the 2011 Queensland cyclone and flood event.

Mr Anderson holds a Master of Disaster and Emergency Response and is currently undertaking a PhD in the area of population-based triage during outbreaks of infectious disease.
The 5th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held at Jupiters, Gold Coast, QLD on the 30-31 May 2016.

The Conference theme ‘EARTH, FIRE and RAIN’ will continue to examine issues that impact preparedness, resilience, response and capability. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.