How Well Do You Know EMT Slang?


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Zero Creative/Cultura/Gettyimages

About This Quiz

As you read this, an emergency vehicle is racing somewhere in your city, off to either attend to a patient or bring a seriously ill individual to a hospital for the best medical care they can get.

You would agree that the men and women who serve as Emergency Medical Technicians are selfless individuals who make it their mission to help those in need. And we should really be thankful for them.

The world of an EMT is not an easy one, that's for sure. It is fast-paced, full of action and without a doubt, very stressful! The number of different cases they see on a daily basis can vary from scrapes and bruises to broken legs or real emergencies, such as motor vehicle accidents, heart attacks, and similar incidents. In those serious situations, emergency medical technicians have to make some crucial decisions, often in the spur of the moment. And they need to get it right because lives are at stake.

Of course, like many professions, communication is key in the world of the EMT. To aid this, a certain lingo has taken shape over the years. There are EMT slang words to describe many situations. And in this quiz, we are going to test your knowledge of EMT slang, not just from the United States but from around the world.

Are you up for it?

When an EMT calls for a "de-fib" what do they want?

The defibrillation machine has saved many lives and is indispensable to EMTs. Basically, it can deliver a shock to restart someone's heart.


What is "BLS" in the EMT world?

An EMT practicing basic life support is able to provide basic patient care. In many services around the world, this is the entry level for an EMT. For example, an Advanced Life Support EMT may administer drugs to a patient while a Basic Life Support EMT may not.


What is a "medic"?

In some countries, EMTs are called paramedics. This is true of Great Britain and South Africa, for example.


If a patient is "intubated" what is done to them?

A breathing tube is placed down the patient's airway to help them breathe. It basically goes down their trachea into their lungs and the EMTs then control their breathing.


What is a patients "HR"?

The "HR" of a patient is simply their heart rate. This is counted in beats per minute. A patient's heart rate is a good indication of their overall condition.


A patient suffering from a "PE" has a _______.

A patient suffering from a pulmonary embolism is in serious danger. A blood clot traveling through the bloodstream ended up in the lungs. It could cause a stroke or even death.


If a patient is suffering "DIB," what is the problem?

When EMTs come across someone who is struggling to breathe, they will call it in as a "DIB." These patients can be suffering from panic attacks or even be asthma sufferers.


Which of these ​would be a "frequent flyer"?

People who call the emergency services for every little thing are just putting an unnecessary strain on the system. In fact, they may take a crew out of action that could have been attending to someone who really needed them. EMTs call people like this "frequent flyers."


An EMT applying "triage" to multiple patients is ______.

"Triage" is a way of determining which patients need help first. For example, a patient with a few minor scratches from a car accident can wait, while one who is bleeding profusely needs help right away.


When talking about a "MICU" in the world of emergency medicine, to what are we referring​?

"MICUs" or Mobile Intensive Care Units, are vehicles fitted out with apparatus able to offer advanced life support to patients en route to the hospital. This offers critically injured patients a greater chance of survival.


From the options below, which best describes an "MVA" as a way a patient may have been injured?

Helping patients injured in an accident is just part of an EMT's everyday duties. They would describe the patient as having been in an "MVA," or motor vehicle accident. This is also sometimes called an "MVC,​" or motor vehicle collision.


If EMTs are performing "CPR" on somebody, what are they doing?

"CPR" stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In short, EMTs performing this on a patient are trying to get the person's heart to start beating.


Do you know which piece of equipment is a "12-lead"?

Electrocardiogram or ECG machines are attached to a patient's chest through the use of little pads. This machine then measures various readings from a patient's heart, which give a clearer picture of its overall condition. They are called a "12-lead" because they have many leads to attach to a patient.


If an EMT told his partner to head for the "A&E," where would they be going?

Most patients transported by ambulance will end up going to the "A&E" or Accident and Emergency division of the local hospital. And don't call an ambulance if you can get there by yourself.


Someone suffering from a "myocardial infarction" is having a ________.

A "myocardial infarction" is a heart attack, simply put. Although life-threatening, a patient in the hands of an EMT stands a very good chance of surviving it.


Normally found on patient forms, what does "LOC" mean?

"LOC" refers to two phrases, in general, in the EMT world. These are either loss of consciousness or level of consciousness. This is usually written on forms to describe a patient’s condition.


A patient said to have "Googlechondria" has done what?

It's relatively easy to work out what "Googlechondria" is. Simply put, it's a condition named by EMTs where patients self-diagnose their condition, signs a​nd symptoms using Google before seeking medical assistance.


If an EMT says someone is a "code brown," what does this slang term mean?

A "code brown" is used to describe fecal incontinence and is often used by medical staff when asking for help in cleaning up an unexpected bowel movement that a patient might have had.


Who or what is a "trauma magnet"?

There is always one! Some EMTs just seem to be drawn to the most dramatic calls, those that involve serious injuries. These people are called "trauma magnets" and other EMTs who are partnered​ with them know they have a busy day ahead.


What does the term "Sats" describe in the world of EMTs?

A patient's "Sats" is the level of oxygen in their blood on each breath. In a normal patient, this is between 95 percent to 100 percent. This can drop in very sick patients.


Any clue as to what "I/V" means?

Setting up an "I/V" means inserting a cannula into a patient's arm. Drugs and other medication can now be easily given to the patient when needed.


Which of these below best describe the EMT slang term, "bagging"?

"Bagging" is when an EMT uses a specialized mask, called a bag-valve mask, to force air into a patient's lungs when the person is having trouble breathing. This is a manual way to provide positive pressure ventilation.


When an EMT refers to a "C-Spine," what are they talking about?

The "C-Spine" refers to the cervical spine (or neck), which comprises the seven vertebrae, C1 – C7. It also houses the spinal cord. It is not only strong​ but flexible.


What does "ALS" mean in EMT lingo?

Advanced Life Support is the care given to a patient by paramedics prior to transporting them to the hospital. This is different from basic or intermediate life support as ALS paramedics are able to administer drugs when needed.


What is an "NP" in emergency lingo?

Sometimes, to secure an airway in a patient, EMTs go through their nose. To do this, they use a specialized tube called an "NP." Let's just agree that it can't be pleasant!


A "scoop" is what type of piece of equipment?

A specialised stretcher, a "scoop" comes in two parts and splits down the middle. Each part can be put under a patient and connected without the patient having to move.


EMTs might call a certain patient a "pita." What does that mean in EMT slang?

A "pita" is simply a pain in the ass. This is a slang word used by medical professionals to describe a patient or relative who is difficult to deal with.


A person said to be "DRT" is described by which of these EMT slang terms?

“DRT” is a slang description for a dead person who has been left in the position in which they were found. Often, in the case of homicide, the body will be left this way until police forensics are done with the scene.


When a patient is said to be "ETOH," what have they been doing?

"ETOH" is the abbreviation for ethanol, which is found in alcoholic beverages. A patient who is ETOH has been drinking and EMTs will alert others arriving at the ​scene by saying they are "ETOH."


What is a "donorcycle" in EMT slang?

A "donorcycle" is an overpowered motorcycle that could turn its rider into an organ donor. Motorcycle accidents largely result in head trauma and less damage to the body, making the victim a good candidate for organ donation.


To which of these would "crackardia" be most applicable?

"Crackacardia" is EMT lingo for a condition when a patient has ingested large amounts of crack cocaine, causing their heart rate to increase. They need to get to the hospital fast!


If an EMT says someone is a "code yellow," what does this slang term mean?

A code yellow is a patient who has lost control of his or her bladder. When accidents or trauma are involved, this can be a reaction, especially if the patient is in shock.


When a patient is referred to as a "beemer," what are they?

"Beemer" is slang for an obese patient. The name comes from BMI (body mass index), which measures body fat based on height and weight.


In EMT lingo, what is an "MDT"?

Many ambulance services around the world use mobile data terminals to keep track of all the calls they get. It helps track their response times and leads to a more efficient​ ambulance service.


If a patient is said to have "DDS," which of these below would describe the person?

EMTs will call a patient who is very dramatic a dying swan and say the person has "dying swan syndrome," even though very little is wrong with them.


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