EMT Lingo Quiz


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Paul Burns/Blend Images/Gettty Images

About This Quiz

There are days when time seems to stand still and suddenly work deadlines and dirty diapers don’t seem quite as pressing as they used to. On those days – when serious medical problems happen, due to instances like heart attacks and car accidents – EMTs (emergency medical technicians) rush to the rescue, hoping to save lives and to improve to future quality of life for people who’ve suffered serious medical trauma. Do you think you know about the work of EMTs to pass this EMT lingo and vocabulary quiz?

If you watch prime time TV (especially CBS) you've heard a lot of these words, but did they stick in your brain? Be warned: Sometimes the words that get used on TV aren't used the way real pros in the business use them.

EMTs undergo major education and training before they’re turned loose on emergency calls. They have to know a vast range of information, from medical terminology to high-speed first aid in order to help people who’ve fallen from roofs, suffered burns, or been in motor vehicle accidents.

Grab your medical kit, don your non-latex protective gear, and lace up your boots. It’s time to race off to this frantic EMT lingo quiz!

When EMTs administer CPR to a patient, what are they attempting to do?

CPR stands for "cardiopulmonary rescucitation." EMTs will apply hand pressure on the chest and blow into the patient's mouth in hopes of resuscitating them.


Why would an EMT perform "triage"?

In large-scale incidents, there are too many patients and not enough EMTs and doctors. So EMTs use triage to categorize the seriousness of each patient's injuries in order to save as many people as possible.


It's all about helping people. What does "BLS" stand for?

BLS stands for "basic life support." With BLS, EMTs can perform many vital medical tasks, from simple first aid to life-saving procedures.


EMTs specialize in providing what?

EMTs ride to the rescue during medical emergencies. They provide "prehospital care," lifesaving care that keeps patients alive until they reach an emergency room.


For what purpose would EMTs use an "AED"?

When patients' hearts begin to fail, EMTs come to the rescue with AEDs, or automatic external defibrillators. These devices (hopefullly) shock the heart back into rhythm.


"ABC" is a common EMT term. Which of the following is NOT one of the words represented by this acronym?

A doesn’t stand for "aneurysm." ABC is "airway, breathing, circulation," and it's a reminder for three critical variables an EMT must check during a call.


When EMTs shout about an "MVA," they're most likely referring to what?

EMTs must often deal with the carnage of MVAs, or motor vehicle accidents. These wrecks produce some of the worst injuries that EMTs see.


It's not all fun and games. How might a "critical incident" affect EMTs?

EMTs are people, too. When they respond to "critical incidents," they've been exposed to situations that may have an emotional impact on their lives. Some EMTs need help recovering from critical incidents.


Why would an EMT need to check "BP"?

BP, or blood pressure, is one of the first vital signs that EMTs check when they reach a patient. Very high or very low BP can mean a patient is having serious heart problems.


What does it mean if an EMT says, "bag him"?

In other arenas, "bag him" might refer to a body bag. But EMTs often use this term when referring to bag valve masks, which may help the patient breathe more easily.


It's all about safety. What's the purpose of PPE?

PPE is personal protective equipment. It refers to a range of gear, from gloves, to biohazard suits, to face masks, all of which are meant to protect the wearer from harm.


What does POPTA stand for?

Any number of medical issues may result in a loss of consciousness. When EMTs mention "POPTA," it means the patient passed out prior to our arrival.


What happens during "body substance isolation"?

With body substance isolation, EMTs treat all bodily fluids as if they were carrying serious infections. It helps to protect the EMT and everyone around them.


What do EMTs do with a "C-collar"?

Many situations result in potential neck injuries. EMTs will put on a C-collar to prevent injuries from worsening before an X-ray can be administered.


Who delegates work to EMTs?

Medical directors are head doctors in charge of EMT crews. They delegate many tasks to the EMTs, who then go about the business of saving patients.


If EMTs note "morbidity" in a patient, what does that mean?

Morbity is a common term among EMTs and doctors. It simply means that the patient is sick or injured in some way.


What's a slang term for patients who call 911 for medical help over and over again?

Most EMTs deal with "frequent fliers," patients who regularly call 911. Some of these people don't really need medical care, others have chronic, life-threatening issues.


EMTs must protect themselves from patients' bodily fluids, in part because they want to avoid liver inflammation caused by a virus, otherwise known as what?

Hepatitis is a common occupational hazard for EMTs. Often spread through viruses, hepatitis can become a life-altering liver condition.


Why would an EMT "intubate" someone?

Patients who stop breathing have only a few minutes to live. EMTs may intubate them by pushing a tube down the patient's throat in order to get respiration going again.


EMTs may observe "anisocoria" in many patients. This refers to which part of the body?

Patients often exhibit anisocoria. This is when their pupils are different sizes, and may indicate a number of physical problems.


What does it mean if an EMT refers to the "expiration" of the patient?

Respiration is clearly an important part of human biology. "Expiration" refers to the fact that the patient is breathing out.


Why do EMTs fear "arterial bleeds" during emergencies?

Because arteries carry so much blood, any nicks or cuts result in very heavy bleeding. EMTs must stop arterial bleeding right or risk losing a patient.


Which of the following indicates the most severe kind of burn?

EMTs often help patients who've suffered burns. Third-degree burns are the most serious, impacting all layers of skin. In these burns, the skin looks charred.


If a patient is receiving too little oxygen and experiencing insufficient blood circulation, he or she has what condition?

Shock is a serious condition that often occurs after car accidents and other violent events. EMTs must recognize and treat shock immediately to keep patients safe.


Before an EMT provides care to a conscious adult, what must he or she do?

When EMTs arrive to find adults in need of care, they must ask for expressed consent before proceeding with treatment. This step, of course, is not necessary if the person is young or incapacited in some way.


If an EMT notes that patient has "N/V," what does that mean?

EMTs deal with all manner of human health issues. Noting "N/V" means that the patient has both nausea and vomiting.


EMTs use ACLS to address serious problems in which category?

ACLS stands for advanced cardiac life support. EMTs employ these advanced procedures for patients who are exhibiting major heart problems.


If an EMT commits "abandonment," what has happened?

EMTs have a duty to follow through on the care that they provide. If they leave the scene before making sure a qualified person is taking over, they've committed abandonment.


If an EMT shouts, "asystole," she's refering to which aspect of the patient's health?

Asystole means that the patient's heart is no longer pumping. This situation is almost always irreversible and results in death.


An embolus travels through what part of the body?

When obstructions of some sort move through the circultory system, you're dealing with an embolus. In some situations, embolus can cause life-threatening blockages.


An EMT might use the antecubital part of the body for what?

The antecubital portion of the arm is the front side of the elbow. It's where EMTs typically insert a needle for an IV.


If a patient has no blood pressure or pulse, he or she is what?

You need a pulse, for obvious reasons. Zero pulse and no blood pressure mean the patient is clinically dead, and in most cases, that's irreversible.


PALS refers to critical health care for which segment of the population?

PALS is an acronym for pediatric advanced life support. It specially addresses the emergency needs for newborns and children.


Sometimes, the humor is black. What's an EMT slang term for motorcycles?

Because motorcycles have no metal cage protecting riders, accidents often result in serious injuries. Some EMTs call them "donorcycles," as these fatal wrecks may result in the riders becoming organ donors.


In blunt trauma, an EMT will NOT see which of the following conditions?

Blunt trauma means a blunt object caused the injury. There are no breaks in the skin in instances of blunt trauma.


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