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Triage in Every Day Life

© John A. Tyler
Each of us is tasked with making choices about our doings, what we buy, and in what order we are going to use our resources. In many cases, we have to first identify which choices that we have. It may be helpful to describe the “Triage” term to see what I mean.

TRIAGE- Origins of the term Triage was originally a battlefield term invented by the French. During or immediately after a battle, medical corpsmen or their equivalents had to attend to many casualties, more than they could handle.

The triage decision process divided the wounded into three general categories:

1.The slightly wounded who would survive with no special medical attention.

2. The mortally wounded, whom the corpsmen thought were unlikely to survive no matter what kind of medical help they could receive.

3. The severely wounded who would be likely to live if they got prompt help, but who would be likely to die if they did not receive prompt medical attention.

The wounded in category 3 got the first medical attention, with the other categories attended to if there were enough corpsmen and medical supplies.

This process of sorting casualties into three classes is never easy. You want to help anyone who is hurt. But if you can’t, you will be more useful in your medical role if you practice triage than if you help the wounded in the order that the casualties occur. And you don’t have a lot of time. If you hesitate to make triage decisions on a battlefield you are worse than useless; you interfere with the work of other corpsmen.

TRIAGE in business and financial decisions.

In any situation where resources and time are limited, which means most situations, important decisions need to be subject to a decision process similar to triage.

For example, you hear that there is a special tax break that might help your business, and you ask your tax advisor to check it out. You expect that if your advisor learns the potential benefit to you is less than the cost of compliance, he or she will tell you and you may stop the investigation.

In undertaking a new venture, the “no” answer may be more valuable than the “go ahead” answer. Where you are going to devote resources to a new opportunity, you need to reserve some Mr. Murphy Money. Mr. Murphy is the character who tells you, ‚Äúif it can go wrong, it will go wrong.” Another way to put it is to say that Mr. Murphy Money is a cushion against the unexpected time delay, the cost overrun, and so on.

The ability of an advisor or consultant to help you make a triage choice, which means weighing costs versus benefits, including affordability, is what separates the minor leaguers from the major leaguers.