Most EMS Terminology Comes Down to Initials, Abbreviations and Acronyms
August 12, 2022
A few years ago, we ran a three-part series on slogans, slang, and terminology as it applies to a trio of human-powered outdoor recreational activities. If you recall, we started out with some “gnarly” surfing terms, then we “tied in” to a conversation about climbing, finally pulling a “wet exit” on the language of paddling.
You can review these three articles using the links below:
- From Sept. 20, 2020: Surfing Terminology and Slang: You Can’t Play BINGO Without the Lingo
- From Oct. 10, 2020: On Belay — Climbing Terminology and Slang
- From Oct. 30, 2020: Paddling Terminology and Slang: Nobody Says ‘Up a River Without an Oar’
There was quite a bit of word whimsy in those articles, and we made sure to remind readers that successfully lassoing the linguistics of a particular activity was no guarantee you were mastering that particular sport professionally.
Today we’re taking a more serious look at language, this time highlighting the terminology used by members of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) community. That’s because one of our areas of focus here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) is emergency medicine training and education. And whether you’re an EMS, medical professional, or wilderness first responder (WFR), these terms are most often employed when these professionals find themselves managing a medical emergency.
First off, you might notice that most of these terms come in the form of acronyms, abbreviations, and initials, and the reason for that is to enable first responders to quickly communicate and react with each other and the patient in the field.
The source for these acronyms comes from the NCOAE Wilderness Medicine Field Guide (ISBN 978-0-578-87449-4).
Here, we present them in alphabetical order:
ABC – Airway, Breathing and Circulation – “This is the Golden Rule of emergency medical professionals”
AED – Automated External Defibrillator – The device that delivers electric shock to the heart of patients experiencing sudden cardiac arrest
A-EMT – Advanced EMT
ALS – Advanced Life Support
Anaphylaxis— Severe, life-threatening systemic reaction on the circulatory and respiratory systems
AMS – Altered Mental State
BLS – Basic Life Support
CPR – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
ED – Emergency Department
EMS – Emergency Medical Services
EMT – Emergency Medical Technician
FSA – Focused Spinal Assessment
Fx — Fracture
HR – Heart Rate
Hx – Patient history
LOC – Level of Consciousness
Medic – Paramedic
OPQRST — Onset, Provocation, Quality, Radiate, Severity, Time
OTC – Over the Counter
PAS — Patient Assessment System
Pt – Patient
Px — Problem
SAMPLE – Symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Previous/Pertinent, Last Intake/Output, Events
S/Sx – Signs and Symptoms
Triage – The process of prioritizing the medical response according to severity of Pt’s condition/injury
Tx – Treatment
V/S – Vital Signs
If you’re interested in putting the above acronyms, abbreviations, and initials to good use because working as an EMT is something you want to pursue, have a look at our Emergency Medicine Training options or call our office at (910) 399-8090.
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