[*] Triage and its step-children

There is a fascinating article in Wikipedia about triage, and I suggest it as reading for anyone listening to the current political sewage being pumped out about the situation in Louisiana and Mississippi, and particularly in New Orleans.

One of the key issues of triage turns out to be that you can only assess and then treat people to whom you can get. That is to say, if you're walking down the street, and a car blows up throwing a line of flaming gasoline across the road so you must stay on your side, the only people you can assess and treat are the ones on your side of the fire line.

You can be sorry that you can't get to someone on the other side of the fire, but trying to cross the fire in order to find out who's hurt worse than the people at your feet is not just impractical but ineffective: people you can save will suffer and/or die because you wasted time trying to reach people you might not even be able to reach, let alone save.

Further, consider this step in START triage:
Triage 2R: If a person is not breathing, adjust their head and clear their airway. If that does not restore their breathing, they are beyond your ability to help. Tag them as DECEASED. Do not start CPR as several other persons may die while you are trying to save just one.
That sounds pretty harsh, but it becomes the unpleasant task of the disaster medical authorities to set aside some victims because it would take a staff of several professionals ten days to save their one life at the expense of several dozen other lives.

It is important to put some perspective on the speed at which aid and relief is coming the the hardest-hit areas that are right now, frankly, underwater. Relying on the dates and times reported by CNN for the tsunami 9 months ago, it took from Dec 26, 2004 to Jan 5 2005 to deliver the first round of aid to the victims in Asia. If you break out the fingers and toes, that means it took 10 days to get aid to the hardest-hit regions. In the case of this catastrophe, when the National Guard arrived today (9/2) in New Orleans, the worst condition of this disaster -- the burst levees -- had begun on 8/30. That means that aid was on-site within 3 days of the dire need.

On-net, in less than 5 days, aid was pouring in not just for those who had fled (and who are still in dire need), and the cavalry literally arrived at the epicenter of calamity.

How, exactly, is this a failure of federal public policy? Does anyone think this could have been minimized by more grade-school fire drills?

More on this from Steve Hays and company.