EMT-Intermediate Glossary

Abandonment This can be defined as starting medical care and then terminating it without transferring the patient to the same, or higher level of medical care. The abandonment of a patient can be grounds for criminal and civil action.
Abrasion When there is damage to the skin due to scraping of the skin, it is known as an abrasion. These are traumatic injuries and can injure one, or all three layers of skin.
Activated Charcoal This charcoal has been mixed with sorbitol in most cases and helps to provide adsorbent properties to the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. When a patient ingests a poisonous substance, activated charcoal can help by binding to the substance and coating the stomach to prevent uptake into the GI tract.
Advance Directives This allows patients to make decisions about end-of-life care in specific situations. When a patient has an advance directive, it is important to honor his or her wishes as long as someone at the scene can provide the document.
Agonal Respirations These respirations are infrequent, ineffective for compatibility with maintaining life. When patients exhibit these types of slow respirations, assisted ventilations should be started right away.
Albuterol Sulfate This drug is a bronchodialtor/simpathomimetic and helps to increase working efficiency of the lower airway from bronchoconstriciton. When albuterol sulfate is given, the patient may exhibit palpitations, anxiety, or headache as a side effect.
Allergy This term refers to a hypersensitivity disorder that is caused by the immune system’s response to an antibody. When the body comes into contact with something that the body recognizes as a threat, the body reacts to decrease body function to not allow any more of the threat to be brought into the body.
Alveoli The alveoli are the smallest portion of the lower airway and are responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood stream. The alveoli are grape-shaped sacs at the terminal end of the bronchioles.
Anaphylactic Shock Shock that follows a severe allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock is life-threatening and must be corrected with sympathomimetic drugs therapy.
Anaphylaxis This is a severe allergic reaction that exhibits impending respiratory collapse by display of angioedema and stridor. When a patient displays signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, they must receive epinephrine immediately to attempt to reverse the complications or death will ensue.
Anterior This refers to the front portion of the body when separated by an imaginary line into front and back halves.
Aorta The aorta is the largest artery in the body and originates at the left ventricle of the heart and extends downward to the abdominal area. The aorta is large in diameter and holds large amounts of blood.
Apnea This term refers to the complete lack of breathing effort by the patient. When a patient has signs of apnea, Bag-Valve-Mask ventilations should be performed immediately.
Asthma This airway disease can be caused by many environmental triggers and food products. Asthma is the constriction of the bronchi denoted by wheezing when listening to lung sounds. Asthma can be severe or minor, it is important to note that severe asthmatic that does not receive their medication may suffer severe respiratory collapse and death.
Atrioventricular Node The atrioventricular node is the node that rests within the atrioventricular septum and has an intrinsic rate of 40-60 beats per minute. The AV node is responsible for taking over as the primary pacemaker if the SA node should fail. The AV node aids in slowing the electrical impulse sent by the SA node momentarily to allow for mechanical catch-up.
Atrium The atrium refers to the two top chambers of the heart. The atria receive oxygenated and deoxygenated blood from the body and give the ventricles an additional 33% fill before contraction of the ventricles.
Body Substance Isolation BSI is the most important rule to remember when dealing with a patient(s). These precautions will help you to limit your exposure to body substances and the transmission of diseases.
Brachial Pulse The brachial pulse can be located in the upper arm of a patient. The brachial is most easily found in pediatrics but can be found in adults and is near the Humerus bone.
Bronchi The bronchi are the two branches off of the trachea the lead into the bronchioles. The bronchi are located in the lower airway and have several branches that facilitate oxygen movement to and from the lungs.
Capillary Refill Capillary refill refers to the return of capillary blood when the capillary has pressure applied to it. A delayed capillary refill may indicate a decrease profusion of blood to the periphery.
Cervical Spine
(7 Vertebrae)
These are the vertebrae of the spine that extend from the base of the scull to the bottom of the neck.
CISD Critical Incident Stress Debriefing is the process that helps to prevent or limit the development of posttraumatic stress in individuals that have been exposed to critical incidents. This is one of the most important parts of maintaining mental health in the emergency healthcare provider.
Coccyx Spine
(4 Vertebrae)
These are the vertebrae that extend from the bottom of the sacrum to the bottom of the spinal column.
Cricoid Cartilage The cricoid cartilage is located in a ring around the trachea and is sometimes referred to as the Adam’s apple.
Dermis The dermis is the layer of skin below the epidermis and above the subcutaneous layer. This layer contains the sweat glands, capillaries, and nerves.
Diabetes Diabetes Mellitus is a group of diseases that cause the patient to have a high level of blood sugar. A patient that does not have adequate insulin production, or has receptor site uptake problems will have high levels of blood sugar.
Diastolic Blood Pressure The diastolic blood pressure is the pressure inside of the artery during diastole (relaxation of the left ventricle). This pressure can be found by utilizing a blood pressure cuff equipped with a sphygmomanometer.
Disinfection The act of disinfection can be done in many ways and is an important part of keeping patients and EMS responders healthy and safe. From simply washing your hands to surgical scrub or sanitary wipes, disinfection should be done after every patient contact.
Distal Refers to any body part and its position as farther from a point of reference.
Duty to Act The duty to act is defined by the clear need of medical care to a patient. Rendering obvious care is the responsibility of all EMTs. When the duty to act is apparent for an on-duty EMT, care should be rendered.
Dyspnea This term refers to the hunger for air a patient feels when they are short of breath. When a patient exhibits signs and symptoms of dyspnea, oxygen should be delivered right away.
Emesis This term refers to the expulsion of content from the stomach out of the mouth. This is commonly known as vomiting.
Emphysema This refers to the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease of the lower airway and causes respiratory distress in patients. Patients who have emphysema will become fatigued easily and can have low oxygen saturation during normal day-to-day activity.
Epidermis The portion of the skin that resides on the outermost layer. The epidermis is comprised of dead skin cells predominantly.
Epiglottis The epiglottis is the flap that covers the entrance to the larynx in the upper airway. This flap protects the airway from foreign bodies meant for the esophagus. When the epiglottis becomes enlarged due to illness, it can become a severe airway obstruction in pediatrics and adults.
This drug is a Sympathomimetic drug, which, by definition, mimics the sympathetic nervous system. This action causes increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. The auto injector is an automatic way of injecting patients with epinephrine and comes as a prescribed epi-pen.
Expressed Consent When consent to treat a patient is given through verbal or physical communication it is known as expressed consent. For all patients that are able to communicate effectively verbally or physically, it is important to obtain expressed consent before treatment.
Febrile Seizure These seizures are denoted by a rapid increase in core body temperature, causing a convulsion of the patient and are most common in patients from 5 months to 6 years.
Fowler’s Position This position refers to the positioning of a patient sitting at about 65° to release patient strain on abdominal muscles and increase respiratory efficiency.
Gastronomy Tube This tube allows for nutritional administration to patients that do not have the ability to eat. The tube is placed into the abdomen and nutrition is delivered directly to the stomach.
Glasgow Coma Scale The GCS is a scale used to assess the rudimentary functions of the central nervous system. The scale ranges from 3-15 (with 15 being normal) and has sections for motor function, eye opening, and speech.
Hallucinogens This term refers to the many drugs and inhalants that cause hallucinogenic reactions from the patient. When patients hallucinate, they may become violent due to visual and auditory stimulus.
Hazardous Materials
A hazardous materials situation is when a scene has, or has the threat of having hazardous materials present. When a hazardous materials scene is present the EMT should always get, or stay safe and request additional resources.
Hematoma A hematoma is breakage of capillary beds and the movement of blood outside into the interstitial spaces of the tissue. Commonly known as a bruise, hematomas are caused by traumatic events and extreme hypertension in patients.
HEPA Respirator The HEPA respirator is a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter used to trap particulate matter from entering the airway of the rescuer. These are part of the BSI precautions that should be used when a patient exhibits signs and symptoms of a possible airborne pathogen.
High-Level Disinfection The level of disinfection should sometimes be done at a higher level when blood or sputum of a patient with a highly communicable disease has created a biohazardous environment. The chemicals used in high-level disinfection should be used with caution and proper protective equipment should be worn.
Hyperglycemia When the body has deficient amounts of glucose in the blood for use by the major organs. When patients become hypoglycemic they display altered mental status and in severe cases, become unresponsive.
Hyperthermia When the body’s core temperature rises higher than the body’s ability to release or absorb the temperature, severe complications can occur. Patients that display signs and symptoms of hyperthermia will have altered mental status, be hot to the touch and have elevated respiratory and heart rates.
Hypoglycemia This term refers to the low levels of available glucose in the blood. When patients become hypoglycemic, they exhibit the same signs and symptoms as an inebriated person, so it is important to make all efforts to obtain a SAMPLE history from bystanders or patient surroundings.
Hypoperfusion When the body does not have enough oxygenated blood reaching the capillary beds. Hypoperfusion can be caused by many things but are most common caused by the several causes of shock.
Hypothermia When the body’s core temperature drops below 35°c or 95°f. These patients will exhibit altered mental status, difficulty in staying awake, and slow reaction to stimulus. When the body temperature drops below this threshold, the body begins to shut down and the heart rate and respiratory rate drop.
Hypovolemic Shock When the body has a decreased availability of blood in the vasculature, the body will begin to decompensate for the lack of volume and begin shutting itself down. When hypovolemic shock becomes apparent, rapid fluid replacement is necessary to deliver volume to the patient’s vital organs until blood products are available at the receiving facility.
Hypoxia This term refers to the decrease in circulating oxygen being delivered vital organs. Hypoxia can be due to many causes from the environment or hemodynamic and pathophysiologic stability.
Iliac Crests The iliac crests are the boney prominences that are commonly referred to as hips. The iliac crest is the superior portion of the Ilium.
Implied Consent This is when the patient is in need of medical care but is unable to express the need for help. The rescuer should understand that it is implied that the patient would want care if they were able to express it.
Ketone Body Formation Ketone bodies are the result of by-product from fatty acid breakdown. Ketone bodies are a significant source of energy within between meals.
Laceration A laceration is the slicing of the skin, usually with sharp objects. These can be superficial or deep within the muscle or even bone. When a laceration is present, it is important to note whether or not it has severed any arteries.
Larynx The larynx refers to the organ within the neck that is commonly known as the voice box. The muscles in the larynx flex and extend to change tones and give mammals the ability to speak.
Lateral This term refers to any body part that is in the periphery and its relation away from the midline of the body.
Lumbar Spine
(5 Vertebrae)
These are the vertebrae that extend from the bottom of the thorax to the to top of the sacrum.
Mark I Auto-injector This auto-injector is used to counteract the effects of exposure to nerve agents such as Sarin, VX and Soman. The kit contains two medications, atropine and pralidoxime and act to decrease the SLUDGE effects of nerve agents.
Mechanism of Injury MOI is the mode or incident that caused injury to a patient. The MOI is important to know before arrival at the scene, when possible, to ensure scene safety.
Meconium These are the first bowel movements that an infant will have after birth. When the infant has a bowel movement before birth the meconium will get into the amniotic fluid and the baby can aspirate it into the lungs. This can be a significant complication for the infant for the first few months of life, since the lungs are not yet fully developed.
Medial This term refers to any body part that is in the periphery and its relation to the midline of the body.
Nasal Cannula This is a plastic, hose-like device that can be placed around the ears and into the nares of a patient to deliver a higher level of oxygen than found in the ambient air.
Nasopharyngeal Airway The NPA is a soft, plastic, straw-like object that inserts into the nares and passes into the Nasopharynx to facilitate patency of an airway for assisted ventilation.
Nasopharynx The nasopharynx is the nasal portion of the pharynx and extends from the base of the skull to the upper surface of the soft palate.
Negligence This can be defined as a withholding, or not continuing medically necessary care to patients. Neglect cases are commonly found with oxygen administration to patients and transportation practices.
Nitroglycerin This is a nitrate that has severe vasodilator properties in patients. This is a commonly prescribed medication for heart patients. Nitroglycerin works by dilating arteries that feed the heat muscle and allowing blood to flow around constricted areas of the artery.
Occlusion This refers to the stoppage of movement past the point in reference. For example, when a patient chokes on something, the airway has partial or full occlusion.
Off-line Direction When off-line direction is used the EMS personnel utilizes a standing order or other form of medical direction that does not include the direct contact of medical control.
On-line Direction This is the direct contact of medical control through telephone, cell phone, or radio to receive medical orders for medications and treatments. When on-line medical direction is used, make sure to repeat all orders for accuracy.
Oral Glucose This is a simple sugar given to patients in the form of an oral suspension. Oral glucose is used to rapidly infuse sugar into the blood stream for hypoglycemic patients.
Oropharyngeal Airway The >Oropharyngeal Airway, or OPA, is the rigid, plastic object used to facility patency in the airway. The OPA works by displacing and keeping the tongue off of the pharynx, and thus, not occluding the airway.
Oropharynx The oropharynx is the oral portion of the pharynx that extends from the level of the uvula to the hyoid bone.
OSHA   The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, provides regulations and enforcement for the workplace and ensures safety for the workforce. When OSHA deems a situation unsafe, an employer may be shut down until reasonable working environment has been restored.
Oxygenation This term refers to the act of providing oxygen to a patient. When a patient has the appropriate oxygenation they will have the greatest chance of oxygen delivery to the body systems.
Patent A patent airway is an airway free of debris or obstruction. The EMT will use several tools and maneuvers to ensure airway patency and is at the top of the assessment checklist.
Pediatric Assessment
This triangle is composed of three properties; Appearance, Work of Breathing and Circulation to the Skin. When a pediatric patient is being assessed it is important to note changes in any of these categories of the PAT. Appearance changes, such as Tone, Interactiveness, Consolability, Look/Gaze, or Speech/Cry, are important to note and be used to check levels of criticality. Work of Breathing should be checked for head bobbing, retractions, nasal flaring, abnormal positioning, and abnormal airway sounds. When checking the circulation to the skin, pallor, mottling and cyanosis or bruising, should be noted as an impending circulatory collapse.
Perfusion The movement of blood to the capillaries throughout the body and body organs. Perfusion can be inhibited by cold, hypotension, and severe bleeding, and can be seen in patients that display cyanosis and blackening of the skin in late stages.
Pharynx This is the area positioned behind the mouth and nasal cavity. The pharynx facilitates the downward movement of food and liquid to the esophagus or oxygen to the trachea.
Pituitary Gland This gland is an endocrine gland located at the base of the skull. The pituitary gland secretes hormones that regulate the other endocrine glands.
Posterior This refers to the back half of a patient that is divided by an imaginary line separating the patient into front and back halves.
Prone This refers to the positioning of the body when lying face down.
Proximal Refers to any body part and its position as closer to a point of reference.
Pupil Constriction This refers to the narrowing of the pupil of the eye. When the diameter of the eye gets smaller it is known as constriction.
Pupil Dilation This refers to the enlargement of the pupil of the eye. When the diameter of the pupil becomes larger it is known as dilation.
Radial Pulse The radial pulse can be found near the radial bone in the lateral portion of the patient’s wrist. This is a common pulse used in prehospital care.
Respiratory Compensation/
When a patient has a decrease in plasma pH, the respiratory rate will increase/decrease to compensate until an adequate level of pH is present. When a patient can no longer compensate through respirations, the patient will begin to decompensate and respirations will no longer become effective to balance plasma pH.
Respiratory Distress When patients suffer the inability to respire effectively it is known as respiratory distress. Respiratory distress can come from many psychogenic and environmental causes and should always be treated with oxygen.
Respiratory Failure When a patient has an all-inclusive collapse of respiratory effort it is know as respiratory failure. When a patient suffers from respiratory failure, BVM (Bag-Valve-Mask) assisted ventilations should be started immediately.
Rule of Nines The rule of nines is used to estimate the body area burned on a burn victim. The chart is broken up into several areas of 9% a few of 18% and 1% for genitalia. It is important to know the approximate body surface area covered for burn center notification and fluid replacement.
Sacral Spine
(5 Vertebrae)
These are the vertebrae that extend from the bottom of the lumbar to the top of the coccyx.
Sagittal Plane The Sagittal plane of the body divides the body into right and left halves. This line is an imaginary line that extends the entire length of the body and from anterior to posterior.
SAMPLE (Acronym) Signs and Symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Past/Pertinent medical history, Last oral intake, Events leading to the 9-1-1 call. The SAMPLE history gathering from a patient can give the EMT great insight to the patient’s medical history and how their recent history may play a role in their current condition.
Secondary Drowning Syndrome This syndrome is caused by the decrease of pulmonary function of patients who have had submersion within 1-48 hours prior. The onset is rapid and causes death.
Sedative A sedative is a drug that is used to decrease the central nervous system. When sedatives are used in the prehospital setting, special care must be made to maintain airway and ventilation assistance if needed.
SIDS Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden death of a child under 1 year of age with no other apparent cause of death. While there may be several causes that contribute to the likelihood of a SIDS death, no hard evidence has been available to support them.
Sinoatrial Node The sinoatrial node is the primary pacemaker of the heart and has an intrinsic rate of 60-100 beats per minute. The SA node is stimulated by catecholamine release and is made up of specialized cells.
Spine Backboard The spine backboard is a piece of equipment used to move medical patients that are unconscious or trauma patients to help maintain spinal immobilization and in-line stabilization.
Sterilization When treating patients with open wounds, sterilized bandaging and equipment should be used. Sterilization is the act of keeping/using equipment that has been heated or treated to contain no living organisms.
Stimulant This term refers to anything that causes a Sympathomimetic effect in the patient. This can come in the form of prescription drugs, recreational drugs or plant extracts.
Stress This is your body’s way of reacting to demands on the mental or physical state. When your body has increased amounts of stress placed on it, the coping mechanisms will eventually break down and anxiety and other symptoms may ensue.
Stridor This is the high-pitched sound that comes from a narrowing upper airway of a patient. When the patient suffers a severe allergic reaction or partial airway obstruction stridor can be heard.
Subcutaneous This layer of the skin resides below the dermis and is comprised of fat tissue, arterioles and nerve endings.
Subcutaneous Tissue The level of the tissue that resides below the cutaneous layer of skin and consists of veins arteries and sweat glands. When victims of burns or trauma have damage to the subcutaneous layer of skin, they have a critical need for fluid replacement and pain management.
Supine This refers to the positioning of the body when lying flat on the back.
Systems Medical Director A physician who provides guidance, leadership for the local EMS personnel within their predefined area. These doctors are usually emergency department physicians that work closely with developing local protocols.
Systolic Blood Pressure The systolic blood pressure is the pressure inside of the artery during systole (contraction of the left ventricle). This pressure can be found by utilizing a blood pressure cuff equipped with a sphygmomanometer.
Tachypnea This term refers to higher than normal respiratory rates in a patient. There are many causes of tachypnea and all should be treated with oxygen.
Thoracic Spine
(12 Vertebrae)
These are the vertebrae that extend from the bottom of the neck to the lumbar.
Thorax This refers to the portion of the body that lies between the head and the abdomen.
Tourniquet The tourniquet can be a mechanical or non-latex band that, when applied, cuts off the arterial circulation to the patients extremity. The tourniquet is used to stop arterial bleeding and preserve life.
Toxin Toxins can be from anything that causes and adverse effect to the human body. Anything that is added to the body unnaturally, and causes and adverse effect, is considered a toxin.
Trachea The trachea is the portion of the upper airway that extends from the bottom of the oropharynx to the right and left main stem bronchi. The trachea contains the vocal chords and is made up of cartilage and soft tissue.
Tracheostomy Tube This tube is placed into patients with tracheostomies (surgical openings in the neck to access the trachea) to help facilitate respiratory efforts.
Traction Splinting These traction devices are used to apply mechanical traction to mid-shaft femur injuries. When a patient fractures the mid-shaft femur, the attached muscles contract and the leg retracts, causing severe pain to the victim and causing sheering to the blood vessels within the muscle.
Trendlenburg Shock
This position is when the legs of a trauma patient with decreased blood pressure are elevated to increase the blood pressure to vital organs.
Vasoconstriction This term refers to the diameter of the vasculature in the body narrowing. Vasoconstriction is a response that can be seen in patients with Sympathomimetic stimulation, whether it is natural or drug induced.
Ventilation This refers to the assisted respirations of a patient through mechanical or physical means. Ventilation should be maintained within a specific range for optimal oxygenation.
Ventricle The ventricle is one of two lower chambers of the heart. The ventricles push blood out of the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body. When disrhythmias in the ventricles develop the patient may become dizzy or suffer cardiac arrest.
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