During WWI, French doctors were overwhelmed.
What could they do to navigate their way through all the wounded that came their way?
They used a technique – triage – to navigate a way forward amid the relentless chaos.
Their use of triage involved them dividing patients into 3 categories:
- Those that were going to die no matter what.
- Those that were going to live no matter what.
- Those whose lives could possibly be saved through intervention but who would definitely die without intervention.
It was that third category of patients where the doctors focussed their efforts.
Thankfully things have moved on since that carnage – at least in most parts of the world.
Recently I was in Accident & Emergency in our local hospital on two separate days. And it was interesting to observe the hospital’s use of triage.
Being there was disruptive for my work but I was physically fine. Nothing major. And I had my James Patterson thriller to keep me occupied – and a vending machine nearby for sugar fixes. The hospital (correctly) gave more immediate attention to other people, e.g., elderly people in distress, a young mother with her animated child with an intellectual disability, etc.
The pressure the staff were under was apparent. At one point, one patient was complaining loudly to someone on the phone about how she was being “treated like dirt“. It was impressive that the staff weren’t intimidated into bumping her up the queue.
You’re busy. It’s the nature of your role.
There are days, sometimes every day, when issues are coming at you relentlessly. And when those waves are coming at you it can sometimes feel like overwhelm – with more water coming on board than your bucket & pumps can get rid of.
Whether your day is particularly busy or calm, what should you focus on?
How do you triage?
Respond to whoever’s shouting loudest?
Answer your emails in order of most recent first?
Just do what you feel like?
Pick something at random?
What is your system of deciding? Have you got a system? Are you disciplined in its use? Can you maintain that discipline when the heat is on?
Your answers will determine whether you can continue to move forward!
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