Could You Pass an EMT Exam?

Estimated Completion Time
4 min
Could You Pass an EMT Exam?
Image: Zero Creatives/Cultura/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Other than your neighbors, emergency medical technicians, or EMTs for short, are likely to be the first people on the scene when you have a medical crisis. As first responders, they have to be trained in a variety of areas. They need to be able to assess the safety of a scene -- the EMT's first priority is to stay safe enough to provide good care. They are trained in communicating clearly with people who are confused or panicked, who are under the influence or whose first language is not English. They learn to recognize suicidal behavior, deal compassionately with those who have drug-abuse issues. and sometimes coax the resistant into coming to the ER for followup treatment. 

Perhaps you've harbored ambitions to be an emergency medical technician, or just wonder how you might fare as one. It's not a job to be taken lightly. Like doctors and nurses, EMTs need a solid grounding in anatomy and understanding of the human body, a familiarity with common illnesses and accident traumas, and with medications and treatments. Beyond that, EMT students get a solid (if not lengthy) education in legal and ethical issues. How far can you go in persuading a patient not to refuse care? What kind of sensitive patient information is too sensitive to be transmitted over the radio? 

If you think you've got what it takes, tackle our quiz on the world of the emergency medical technician. Just don't call 911 if you get stuck!

A mask, goggles and/or gloves can protect an EMT from ______.
Infection
Lawsuits
Violence
Stress
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Body substance isolation" is the somewhat formal name given to protections from blood, saliva, mucus and other body fluids. These can transmit infectious diseases.

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True or false: A diabetic can have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
True
False
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Hypoglycemia is a common result of diabetes; put another way, diabetes is the underlying illness, which can express itself in either hypo- or hyperglycemia. Whether diabetes is Type I or Type II, the body has difficulty maintaining a healthy range of blood sugar.

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Anaphylaxis is sometimes called anaphylactic _____.
Fusion
Fission
Overdrive
Shock
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This is not to be confused with "shock" overall. That's a more common response in emergencies, not narrowly affecting the immune system.

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Which of these is a communicable disease?
Diabetes
Lung cancer
Skin cancer
Tuberculosis
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Tuberculosis is a lung disease and can be spread by airborne methods (e.g., coughing or sneezing). Though an EMT is almost certainly going to be inoculated against TB, wearing a mask is advised around patients suspected to be tubercular, in part because of the rare, but still possible, chance of an inoculation-resistant strain.

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Which of these would you describe as "dilated"?
Arteries
Pupils
Teeth
Skin
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Dilated pupils can indicate one of several medical conditions. When only one is dilated, it can mean a serious head injury.

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"CNS" is a common abbreviation for ...
Carpal neuropathy syndrome
Central nervous system
Cardio-neurological symptom
Can not see
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You'll hear this shorter term a lot for the brain and spinal cord. CNS injuries can have especially grave implications for future health.

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Respiratory and pulmonary both refer to the action of the _____.
Eyes
Lungs
Liver
Skin
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

To be specific, "respiratory" is a little broader, with "pulmonary" referring to the lungs alone. For example, an "upper respiratory infection" is a cold, affecting the nose and throat. (It's also not usually an issue for an EMT, of course).

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Which of these is the preferred term for the person being treated?
client
patient
victim
civilian
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Certainly, if someone was assaulted, they are a victim, but EMTs rarely use that word. As some EMT instructors like to tell students, '"Victims' are patients who get lousy treatment."

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Which of these indicates a patient in diabetic crisis?
Altered mental status
Cold and clammy skin
Frequent urination
Both #1 and #2
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

All of these are signs of diabetes, but the first two indicate an "emergent" situation. Frequent urination, like thirst, is a more general symptom of diabetes. An evaluation by a patient's primary-care doctor is indicated, by not necessarily urgent.

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The aorta is a/an ...
Artery
Gland
Organ
Secondary airway
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It leads away from the heart, beginning the process of transporting oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.

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What is tachycardia?
A low pulse
A rapid pulse
High blood pressure
Low blood pressure
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

To assess a pulse as tachycardic requires a bit of advance knowledge. A normal heart rate is different for different age groups, and if a patient has just finished a burst of exertion -- like running to get help after an accident -- the rapid pulse may not be cause for concern.

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Which of these patients should have the highest heart rate?
An adolescent
A preadolescent
An infant
An adult
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Generally speaking, heart rate is highest at birth, and slows throughout life. However, endurance athletes might have lower heart rates at age 35 than a non-exerciser at 50 -- there are variables in play.

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What is anaphlyaxis?
An acute cardiological issue
An acute allergic reaction
An allergic reaction, but only to latex
Severe difficulty in digestion
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Anaphlylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. One of the more common ones is to bee stings.

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What is adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes usually called?
Peri-diabetes
Secondary diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
Type 3 diabetes
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Type 2" (or Type II) is a more accurate term, because children and teenagers can develop it. The main thing that differentiates it is that in Type 2 diabetes the body has lost sensitivity to insulin, rather than being unable to produce it (which is Type 1). This can be managed through changes in diet and exercise and through medication.

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What is a "size-up"?
Gathering information about the scene, situation and patient on arrival
Referring a call to a larger, better-equipped ambulance service
Using an adult-sized cervical collar on a child or teen
Taking a patient history
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Size-up" is an important concept in first-responder work. Rushing in can lead to injury to the EMT or to missing important clues to the overall crisis.

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What does the memory device "ABC" stand for?
artificial breathing control
artificial blood circulation
airway, breathing, circulation
always be curing
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

These are the top three things a first responder should take care of. If the patient doesn't have a blocked airway, is breathing, and his/her heart is working and circulating blood, there is a good chance they will survive to get secondary medical treatment. Note that "circulation" also includes bleeding -- if the patient's circulation is resulting in uncontrolled blood loss from a wound, that needs to be taken care of right away.

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What is/are "body mechanics"?
Proper digestion and excretion
Another term for "vital signs"
Technicians who make artificial limbs
The proper use of the body in lifting.carrying, which helps EMTs stay uninjured.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

One of the things that EMT students learn is good body mechanics. The job requires lifting and carrying, and without good skills in this area, first responders can be injured.

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Which of these pieces of equipment has a "flowmeter"?
A stethoscope
A blood-pressure meter
An oxygen canister
A suction unit
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

EMTs sometimes administer oxygen to patient in the field or in the ambulance. A flowmeter lets the medic adjust the rate of oxygen flow, measured in liters per minute.

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What is an abnormally slow pulse called?
Bradycardia
Pericardia
Subcardia
There is no name for this, because a slow pulse is not dangerous
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

It's not true that a slow pulse is never cause for concern. An underperforming heart cannot get oxygen and vital nutrients to tissues of the body, which is a serious health concern.

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Under which of these circumstances should you and your partner NOT enter an emergency scene?
It is a crime scene where you might destroy evidence.
The prospective patient is yelling that she doesn't want care.
It appears to be unsafe for you and your partner.
None of these
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

EMTs are allowed to, and supposed to, put their own physical safety first. But not approaching a patient because of concern for evidence in a crime is not sufficient reason. Nor is a patient's initial apparent refusal to be treated.

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Which of these is NOT a common tool of EMT work?
Backboard
Oxygen tank
Scalpel
Shears
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Scalpels are for surgeons. The other three are often used in paramedic work. EMT shears are especially nifty -- they are thin and blunt at the tip, so an EMT can slide them right under tight clothing without cutting the patient, then use them to cut off through that clothing and access wound sites.

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What is the "airway"?
The nose and mouth
The lungs and their inner structures
The whole passageway from nose and mouth through the lungs
An air ambulance service
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Saying "airway" is handy when you don't know exactly where an obstruction is. Any blockage in the airway, from nose to lungs, is dangerous.

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Where would you find the radial artery?
The chest
The arm
The leg
The abdomen
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This is significant because first responders are often called on to find a "radial pulse." This is done by laying two fingers on the wrist, over the radial artery.

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True or false: Drugs or alcohol are almost always involved in a patient's altered mental status.
True
False
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Many things can cause confusion, hallucination, anxiety or combativeness. Even if a patient's mental state is caused by substance use, it is important not to respond with judgment or irritation, which can get in the way of a good treatment outcome.

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What is the common name for a "cerebrovascular accident"?
Angina
Heart attack
High blood pressure
Stroke
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A stroke can be difficult to assess at the scene, since symptoms can appear to resolve, then return. Prompt transport to a hospital for a doctor's diagnosis is essential.

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A lack of oxygen in the body's tissues is called ...
Hypoperfusion
Hyperperfusion
Hypoxia
Choking
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Signs of hypoxia include a bluish tinge to the lips and confusion/altered mental status. This is a problem that can trouble anyone who travels to altitudes higher than 8,000 or 9,000 feet, especially without advance cardiovascular training.

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Which of these is a normal respiratory rate?
12 - 20
26 - 36
40 - 50
80 -100
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

There are some "breathing gurus" that encourage people to get their breathing rate down as low as 4 breaths per minute. But most medical experts agree this is an unnecessary goal: 12 to 20 is fine in an adult.

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Which of these would an EMT be discouraged from attempting on a patient having breathing difficulties?
Administering oxygen from a canister
Inserting an artificial airway
A tracheotomy
Ventilation with a bag-mask setup
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

TV and movies give the impression that cutting into a patient's throat and inserting a tube of some sort below a blockage is fairly easy -- the sort of thing a Boy Scout might do with his penknife and a drinking straw at a restaurant. In truth, tracheotomy is very difficult and has a high risk of either not working or severing an artery. It is not included in EMT training.

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Which of these should an EMT not do for a diabetes patient?
Administer oral glucose
Diagnose the diabetes itself
Check blood glucose with a monitor
An EMT can do all of these.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Some ambulance services do not allow EMTs to use a blood glucose monitor; nearly all allow them to administer glucose, and require them to carry it. But diagnosis itself is a job for an MD. You'll often hear an EMT referring to "assessing" a patient, but not "diagnosing" them.

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If you are putting a patient in the "recovery position," how are you arranging their body?
On a backboard with a cervical collar
On their back, arms at sides
On their stomach, head to the side
On their side
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This position is useful because it allows vomit or other fluids to drain safely from the mouth. If you want to impress co-workers, call it the "lateral recumbent position."

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What is insulin?
A hormone the body makes
An artificially-administered drug
Both of these
Neither of these
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The pancreas makes insulin, but in some people, the amount is insufficient and has to be supplemented. However, even the insulin administered externally has natural origins -- it is generally made from cow or pig pancreases.

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In the acronym SAMPLE, what is the "S" for?
Signs
Symptoms
Severity
Both #1 and #2
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"SAMPLE" is an acronym for a history-taking method. It goes Signs and Symptoms, Allergies, Medications, Pertinent past history, Last oral Intake (food or drink) and Events leading to 911 call.

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Which system is overreacting in a case of anaphylaxis?
Endocrine
Immune
Pulmonary
Reproductive
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Anaphylaxis is a severe immune response. Some swelling in response to an immune threat --a foreign substance in the body -- is normal. But when the airway begins to close as a result, it becomes potentially fatal.

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Who or what is an "RP"?
Repeat patient
Resistant patient
Reporting party
Role play (an exercise in classes)
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In other words, this is the person who called 911 (at least, that's usually how the process gets started). In radio communications, you'll often hear the short version, "RP."

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In which of these cases can you proceed with care under "implied consent"?
An unconscious patient
A child with no guardian on scene
A patient whose metal status is impaired by drugs
All of these
Just #1 and #2
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A drunken patient or one on drugs still has the right to refuse care. The EMT's responsibility is to make sure he or she understands their medical situation and makes as informed a decision as possible before signing the refusal-of-care form.

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