EMT Jargon - 1993

C-Message Weighting Messaging System (408)-377-7441

EMS JARGON (Reproduced from Baseline News, July 1993)

We got a list of emergency medical system verbiage and discussed their
meanings with an individual who works for Regional Ambulance and an
emergency medical technician (EMT) credentialed CHP officer.  Many of you
already know this information but to those who do not, read on.

A.O.#: Ambulance Order number (or "Code 11" in Santa Clara County).
Abrasion: an external injury where a rough surface injures the skin in a
     manner like sandpaper would.
Airway: a tube placed into the patient's throat that keeps the breathing
     passage open and/or prevents oxygen or rescue breathing air from
     inflating the stomach.  Air/oxygen goes only into the lungs and the
     esophagus is blocked.  This is usually used on unconscious patients
     because conscious ones vomit when you put something in their throat.
Apnea: the absence of breathing.
Ambulatory: patient able to walk - able to ambulate.
Amputation: removal of a patient's extremity.
Avulsion: a tissue partly or completely torn off by a mechanical injury
     such as an avulsed ear lobe.
Bradycardia: heart rate is slower than normal.
C-Spine: "cervical spine"- the top seven vertebrae in the neck area.
     Injuries in this area are life-threatening because they could sever
     the spinal cord.  A general goal is to keep the neck in a fixed
     position if injuries are suspected.  In response to the command,
     "don't move your neck" the patient invariably nods.
Chief Complaint: primary problem that resulted in the patient requesting
Contusion: (con-too-zhun) a bruise.
CPR: cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.  The patient is no longer alive and
     chest compressions as well as rescue breathing are being used in an
     attempt to revive the patient.
Cyanotic: (pronounced sigh-an-ot-ick) means the patient's skin is unusually
     blue; caused by lack of oxygen.
Defibrillator:  EMT-Defibrillator: (or EMT-D) a microprocessor-controlled
     defibrillator that senses the patient's heart rhythm.  In some
     situations, the heart beats in a non-productive way so that
     insignificant or no blood flow is generated.  This is called
     "fibrillation."  The defibrillator shocks the heart muscle, stopping
     it momentarily, so that a normal heartbeat will resume.  Paramedics:
     paramedics have more skills and use a different defibrillator that
     incorporates more features or treatment options.
Direct Pressure: when an artery is bleeding EMS providers press against the
     wound or an "upstream" artery to reduce blood loss.
ETOH: intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol.
Full Arrest: The patient's heart is not beating.
Gurney: the wheeled stretcher used to move the patient.
I.V.: an intra-veinous solution; common types are "D5W" (5% dextrose in
     water), lactated ringers (usually used to build volume because of a
     patient's blood loss), saline solution (for infusion of medications);
     see T.K.O.
Jaundice: means the patient's skin and/or eyes are unusually yellow.
Ked Sled: a scoop stretcher that splits into two halves.  It is slipped
     under a patient and snapped together in order to "scoop" them up.
     Also called a scoop stretcher.
Labored Respirations: patient must exert a great deal of effort to breathe;
L.O.C.: loss-of-consciousness or (more frequently) level-of-consciousness.
Load and go: the patient's injuries require hospital-level care to improve
     his/her condition.  The ambulance personnel's primary goal is to get
     to the hospital with the patient immediately.
Lumbar: relating to the lower back.
MAST Helicopter: Military Assistance to Safety and Transportation -
     military ambulance helicopter (UH-1) from Fort Ord.
MAST trousers: Military Anti-Shock Trousers are inflatable trousers that
     force blood from the legs into the upper body.  This is used to get
     blood to the vital organs in cases where the patient has lost
     significant amounts of blood.
Non-ambulatory: patient cannot walk.
Oriented times _____ (1,2,3,or 4): patient is aware of (1) what they
     were/are doing, (2) what time and day it is, (3) their own identity,
     and (4) their location.  Oriented times four means the patient knows
     all four.  The number is the sum of correct answers.  For example, a
     patient knows, "My name is Joe Smith and I remember that I was riding
     my bicycle."  The patient does not know where they are or what time or
     day it is and is therefore oriented times two.
Oxygen via Cannula: oxygen is administered through a two-prong nasal
     cannula in situations where low flows are required and the patient
     breathes on their own.
Oxygen via Mask: oxygen is administered through a mask in situations where
     high flows are required but the patient breathes on their own.
Oxygen via Positive Pressure: the patient has oxygen administered under
     pressure through a mask or airway in situations where the patient is
     in respiratory distress or not breathing on their own.
P.E.R.L.: pupils are equal in size and react to light.
Posturing: response to pain where the patient's arms, legs, hands, and/or
     feet move inappropriately in response to certain stimulus.  Is an
     indicator of certain types of injuries.
Respiratory distress: difficulty breathing.
Responsive to painful stimulus:  a patient with a lower-than-normal level
     of consciousness can be evaluated in part by checking to see if there
     is a response to pain.  A common way to do this is to rub the
     patient's sternum with the sharp point of the EMS-provider's knuckles.
     This should cause a grimace, moan, or some similar response.
S.O.B.: shortness of breath; short of breath
Scoop: a stretcher that splits into two halves.  It is slipped under a
     patient and snapped together in order to "scoop" them up.  Also called
     a Ked Sled.
Seizure: or seizure activity usually refers to uncontrolled muscle activity
     associated with a diminished level-of-consciousness.  Two common
     causes of seizures are epilepsy and (in young children) febrile
     seizures are caused by a high-grade fever.
Splint: a rigid material used to immobilize broken bones in order to
     prevent further tissue damage or injury.
Stokes: a basket-like stretcher used in rescue situations where the non-
     ambulatory patient must be transported over rough terrain or up/down a
Suction: a device used to remove foreign matter such as vomit or blood from
     the patient's mouth in order to prevent it from blocking breathing.
Tachycardia: (pronounced tack-ee-car-dee-ya) heart rate is faster than
Thoracic/Thorax: relating to the middle back
T.K.O.: means "to keep open"; a routine, precautionary I.V. started in case
     physicians decide a drug must be administered immediately.
Traction Splint: a splint that pulls on the end of a broken leg.  This is
     most often used for a broken leg above the knee and results in
     greatly-reduced pain for the patient.
Traumatic full arrest: a full arrest as the result of an impact, fall, or
     mechanical injury.
Witnessed arrest: someone saw the patient "go down" and there is some idea
     of how long the patient was not breathing.
Work-up: stabilizing the patient for transport using drugs or other
     measures or treatment.

WARNING: This is a general overview of terms and should NEVER be considered
as medical advice or the basis for any type of treatment.  Treatment for
injuries is based on extensive training and formal medical protocols.  The
above is intended only as a reference to help radio listeners understand
what EMS providers are doing.

Trained persons should perform first aid only at their level of training.
The American Red Cross offers an excellent variety of classes to teach you
multi-media to advanced first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Local Community colleges offer emergency medical technician courses.  Take
them if you have more than a passing interest: if you would like to help
rather than drive-by an accident scene.