You remind me of one of the nurses in my ED, his name is also Rick and it seems your personalities are similar.
Anyway, I am not a nurse but a student nurse and a registration clerk. Our triage system is not so great. We are a small rural hospital but have a large geriatric community and have an ever increasing number of patients due to the military base nearby (they recently closed the naval hospital there and only have an oupt clinic during regular office hours).
Anyway, upon arriving from POV the pt approaches my desk, and I will get very basic information such as name, date of birth, and family doctor and write it on the triage form. I also write the time of arrival for time tracking purposes. We are always supposed to have an RN in the triage area, but many times he or she is covering for another nurse, or helping with something. If she is not in the area, we have an overhead paging system where we call for a triage.
The RN takes vitals, assess pt, assigns priority. If the patient is able, he or she will come back to my desk and be registered. If the patient is not able, they will be taken right back into a room and one of us will follow with a laptop after the patient has been settled in and seen by the MD.
Its not a bad system, but the triage area is poorly designed, and our ED is not able to handle large numbers of patients without being overwhelmed.
I know I'm not a nurse yet, but that's my input.
Hope it helps?