Can You Get a Perfect Score on This EMT Quiz?

By: Torrance Grey
Image: Image Source / Image Source / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Have you ever wondered if you could make the grade as an emergency medical technician? If so, our quiz is for you. Well, OK ... it's probably not going to be as difficult as the National Registry EMT certification exam, because it's for a general audience. 

Did you know, for example, that the current NREMT exam is "cognitively adaptive"? That means that the computerized test starts with the most difficult questions on each sub-topic, and if you answer those correctly, it moves on. If not, it tapers down to progressively easier questions. So if it's taking you what feels like a long time to take the exam, you might not be as prepared as you thought! But don't worry, as long as you demonstrate an adequate level of knowledge, you won't fail. You'll just get out a bit earlier if you ace it!

There's a lot to cover. EMTs must have a good understanding of human anatomy, the systems of the body and common illnesses and injuries. But beyond that, they have to understand how to communicate with children, the elderly, and those for whom English is a second language. They need to know how to instill trust in patients, how to deal with the drunk, drug users or those agitated by mental illness. And, no less important, they need to remember how to protect themselves in the field. There are many risks to the job, from back injuries incurred while lifting patients, to hostile dogs, to the canisters of highly combustible oxygen that are a part of an ambulance's equipment. 

Remember, the next time you see an EMT or paramedic -- treat them well; they have a very difficult job!

In the title "EMT-B," what does the "B" stand for?

EMT-B is the starting point in an EMT career. It's where you'd start right after passing your exam and being hired.

The injured and sick people you treat in the course of a shift are usually called _______.

The preferred term is "patient," just as it would be in a doctor's office or a hospital. As more than one veteran paramedic puts it, "The people I treat aren't victims! A victim is a patient who receives lousy care!"

If you are using the terms "systolic" and "diastolic," what are you probably doing?

Systole and diastole are the two halves of the heartbeat. Each one exerts a different pressure on the walls of veins and arteries, meaning we have systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Which of these is a healthy blood pressure?

Don't be fooled by the idea that lower is always better. This isn't so. If a patient's blood pressure is too low, like the top number, they might have lost a lot of blood, and they're definitely at risk to pass out.

A healthy resting heart rate is ________ beats per minute.

There's a bit of wiggle room here -- serious caffeine users might be up around 100, while ultra-marathoners can get down under 40. But 12 - 24 is too low. That's the number of breaths per minute a healthy resting adult takes.

What does "BSI" stand for?

BSI is a key concept in emergency medical work. It refers to practices that keep EMTs safe from infectious diseases.

Which of these items is NOT used for BSI?

The other three items, all wearable, protect an EMT from contacting body fluids and maybe being exposed to an infectious disease. A stethoscope is simply medical equipment.

Which of these body substances is of least concern, in terms of infectious disease?

It might be unpleasant when a patient pees on you, but it's generally safe, as urine is sterile (though it can carry skin cells and blood cells it's contacted along the way). Blood and saliva are high-risk substances. and feces can carry pathogens like E.coli.

The mnemonic "ABC" stands for "_______, Breathing, Circulation."

This memory device helps first-responders remember the very first steps in keeping someone alive. Make sure their AIRWAY is clear, that they are BREATHING, and that their heart is beating (CIRCULATION). It's not just EMTs who are taught this; it's essential to first aid.

If an RP suspects his father is having a "brain attack," what does this mean?

"Brain attack" is a term related to "heart attack." In both cases, part of the organ is being deprived of necessary blood flow; death can result.

If you work as an EMT, will you ever be expected to testify in court about what you witnessed on a call?

EMTs, like other types of first responder, might be called to court to testify about what they saw at an emergency scene that was also a crime scene. Few people are exempt from this responsibility -- religious personnel, for example.

The rules and directions an EMT must follow in the field are called _______.

Every ambulance service has its "standing orders," which are procedures to be followed in the field. For example, if only a paramedic, not an EMT-B, can administer oxygen, that's how it's always supposed to work.

Who creates the standing orders?

Every ambulance service must have a medical director. This is an MD who sets policies for treatment and care in the field. He or she is often available by phone in case particularly tricky situations come up.

"Anterior" and "posterior" are medical terms for what?

EMTs, like doctors and nurses, learn these anatomical terms in school. They're meant to eliminate confusion in the field. But don't confuse "anterior" and "posterior" with "ventral" and "dorsal" -- the latter two terms refer more specifically to a patient's torso (chest/stomach versus back).

A bag-valve-mask setup is used to give a patient which of these?

The others would be administered intravenously or orally. But oxygen/nitrogen is administered via a mask.

If you see the terms "cervical," "thoracic" and "lumbar," you know you're dealing with the _____.

"Cervical" is an important concept/area for EMTs. Cervical spine injuries can happen when a patient is moved prematurely or without caution in the field, and can cause quadriplegia.

If you're using a "sphygmomanometer," what are you holding in your hands?

We're not sure, but we suspect this has been the winning word at a high-level spelling bee. Everyone else just says "blood pressure meter."

True or false: A "stair chair" is something you might use to transport a patient in the field.

Though you've probably heard of it less often than a stretcher or back board, a stair chair is used for getting an immobile patient to an ambulance. As the name suggests, it gets patients down flights of stairs.

You arrive at a scene of a reported fight and stabbing, and find it unusually quiet, with no one in sight. What does this suggest to you?

Emergency scenes are usually noisy places, with people crying, hurrying around trying to help, et cetera. What EMT manuals call "unusual silence" suggests something is wrong, possibly a hostage situation or similar.

A bluish tinge to the skin suggests what issue?

This is called "cyanosis," and is related to the name "cyan" for blue (which you might recognize if you work in printing). It appears first in and around the lips.

Pulse, respiration rate, body temperature and blood pressure are called a patient's _______.

These are the vital signs because they will give you, taken together, a good snapshot of the patient's condition. If any one of the four is "off," something is wrong in their system.

A patient who reports taking oral glucose is most likely a _______ patient.

Diabetes is possibly the fastest-growing health problem in the developed world (e.g. North America, Australia, etc). Diabetes patients might carry oral glucose with them, or take insulin.

A patient whose doctor has prescribed albuterol most likely has ______.

Albuterol is an inhaled drug that helps with difficulty breathing caused by asthma. It is also prescribed to COPD patients.

Which of these can be a sign of either brain injury or drug use?

It's easy to confuse a brain injury for drug use, especially if the head trauma is concealed by hair. Confused speech and dilated or contracted pupils can be a sign of either. One clue: Mismatched pupils, like one "blown" or dilated pupil, is definitely a sign of concussion.

"Palpating" is a fancy term for what?

"Palpating" is feeling a patient's body for breaks, swellings, et cetera. It has to be done with sensitivity for a patient's injuries and their sense of modesty (e.g. palpitating the upper thighs or buttocks).

Don't confuse "palpation" with "palpitations," which are ...

"Palpation" and "palpitation" are related words, though. They both come from the Latin verb "palpare," meaning "to touch or stroke."

A patient's femoral artery runs through her _____.

This blood vessel is named for the femur, or the big bone of the upper leg. It is very large, and if slashed open, can cause severe blood loss.

A "transient ischemic attack" is a minor form of what health crisis?

This medical issue, often abbreviated "TIA," is also called a mini-stroke. Patients might know know they'd had one, which can present as brief, temporary confusion.

Who stocks the supplies in the ambulance before each shift?

A basic duty of every EMT, upon arriving at work, is to check the supplies in the "bus." This job is shared between you and your partner/supervisor, usually a paramedic.

In the field, how might you determine "capillary refill"?

When you squeeze a healthy person's fingernail, it will become pink again almost as soon as you let go. If it stays pale longer than two seconds, there is probably an issue with his or her circulation. However, older persons or those with pre-existing health issues might have low capillary refill all the time.

You would use a splint to treat what issue?

Splints are used to immobilize limbs with fractures or even broken bones. They don't have an effect on blood pressure.

An 85-year-old man has called 911 after a fall at his apartment. When you arrive, he says he's moving around fine and doesn't need any care. What is your next step?

Explain that you want to rule out an underlying issue that might have caused the fall, or an injury which could flare up later. But don't jump to calling Social Services -- that's pretty drastic.

If a patient carries an "epi-pen," what does this tell you?

"Anaphylactic shock" is a life-threatening reaction to an allergen. The swelling of tissues can close up a patient's airway, blocking their supply of air. An Epi-pen (technically, this is a brand name, hence capitalized) delivers a life-saving anti-inflammatory to stop the swelling process.

The work that EMTs and paramedics do is formally called ...

EMT work is called "prehospital care." You'll see this term a lot in textbooks and manuals, but hear it less often on the job.

Where might you perform "triage"?

At the scene of a natural or man-made disaster, there are going to be many injured people, and those injuries are going to vary widely in severity. Triage is a way of quickly sorting patients according to how urgently they need help. Often, this involves colored tags you would hang around their necks -- green, yellow or red. There's also a black tag, to quickly identified a person who is already dead, and thus beyond help.

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