Glossary of First Aid & CPR

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

abandonment
Discontinuing the care of a patient without the patient’s consent and before being relieved by someone of equal or greater training.
abrasion
A type of wound characterized by skin that has been rubbed or scraped away.
absence seizure
A generalized seizure that appears as a blank stare with little or no body movement. Also called a petit mal or nonconvulsive seizure.
absorbed poison
A toxin substance that enters the body through contact with the skin.
acute
Having a rapid and severe onset and then quickly subsiding.
acute abdomen
A sudden, severe stomach pain that may be related to any of several medical conditions internal organs.
acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
A condition in which trauma to the lungs leads to inflammation, accumulation of fluid in the alveolar air sacs, low blood oxygen, and respiratory distress. ARDS may be a complication to drowning
adaptive immunity
A protection from disease that the body develops over a lifetime as it is exposed to pathogens or receive immunizations against them.
addiction
A compulsive need to use a substance or to exhibit certain self-destructive behaviors.
adult
For the purposes of providing medical care, an individual who appears to be approximately 12 years of age or older.
advance directive
A written instruction that describes a patient’s wishes if the patient is incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions.
advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT)
A level of advanced medical training between emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic. AEMTs are usually authorized to provide emergency care, insert IVs, administer medications, perform advanced airway procedures, and to set up and operate EKGs. Formerly, AEMTs were called EMT-Intermediates.
AED
Automated external defibrillator.
agonal gasp
An isolated or infrequent shallow inhalation that occurs with an unconscious, nonbreathing patient. Agonal gasps are not an indication of true breathing.
AIDS
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. A disease of the immune system caused by an infection of the HIV virus.
air splint
A plastic sleeve capable of immobilizing a part of the body when inflated.
airway
The pathway for air from the mouth and nose through the pharynx, larynx, and trachea and into the lungs.
airway adjunct
A mechanical device used keep the airway of an unconscious patient open. Airway adjuncts can be inserted into the mouth or nose.
alveolus
One of several small, air-containing compartments of the lungs in which the bronchioles terminate and from which respiratory gases are exchanged with pulmonary capillaries.
Alzhelmer’s disease
A common type of dementia in older people characterized by impairment in thought, language, and memory.
amniotic sac
The “bag of waters” that encloses the fetus within the womb and bursts during the birthing process.
amputation
The complete severing or removal of an external body part.
anabolic steroid
A drug used by athletes to enhance performance and to increase muscle mass. Anabolic steroids may sometimes be used to induce weight gain for patients unable to gain weight naturally.
anaphylaxis
A type of distributive shock caused by a sudden, severe allergic reaction (e.g., to a bee sting or to eating peanuts). Anaphylaxis can cause the air passages to swell so that they restrict breathing. Anaphylaxis is sometimes called anaphylatic shock.
anatomic splint
An immobilizing support for an injured body part created by bandaging it to an uninjured body part.
anatomy
The study of the structures of the body, both gross structures and microscopic structures.
aneurysm
An abnormal bulging of an artery due to a weakness in the blood vessel wall.
angina pectoris
Pain in the chest caused by a lack of oxygen reaching the heart. It can be stable (caused by exertion) or unstable (occurring at rest or for no apparent reason). Pain due to angina often comes and goes.
angulation
An abnormal bend or curve of an organ. An angled deformity caused by a fracture.
ankle drag
A method for moving an injured patient by grasping both ankles and pulling the patient along the floor feet-first.
antibody
A protein found in the blood and other body fluids used by the immune system to identify and neutralize pathogens.
antidote
A substance that counteracts and/or neutralizes the effects of a poison.
antihistamine
A drug taken to lessen the effect of an allergic reaction.
anti-inflammatory drug
A substance used to reduce swelling or inflammation.
antivenin
A substance used to counteract the effects of venom.
anxiety
An abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (e.g., sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
APGAR score
An assessment of the health of a newborn, taken at the first and fifth minute of life, by checking the newborn’s appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration.
aphasia
A disorder characterized by the inability to produce or understand language.
apnea
A condition that causes breathing to stop periodically or to be significantly impaired.
applied ethics
The use of ethics in decision making.
arrhythmia
A disturbance in the regular rhythmic beating of the heart.
arterial gas embolism
A condition caused by rapid ascent from deep water while holding one’s breath which results in rapid air expansion in the lungs that cause air bubbles to enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain, causing significant injury or death.
arteriole
A very small blood vessel that channels blood from arteries to capillaries to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
artery
A large blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all parts of the body, except for the pulmonary arteries that carry oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs.
artificial ventilation
An intervention used to assist breathing for a nonbreathing patient using a bag-valve mask, mouth–to–resuscitation-mask breathing, or mouth-to-mouth/nose/stoma breathing.
aspiration
The act of inhaling blood, vomit, water, or other foreign material into the lungs.
assessment
A check of the emergency scene and the patient to determine how to help. Assessment consists four main parts: the scene size-up, the primary assessment, the secondary assessment, and the ongoing assessment.
asthma
A chronic lung disorder marked by recurring episodes of airway obstruction (as from bronchospasm) manifested by labored breathing accompanied especially by wheezing and coughing and by a sense of constriction in the chest, and that is triggered by hyperreactivity to various stimuli (e.g., allergens or rapid change in air temperature).
asymptomatic
A situation in which a patient has no symptoms.
asystole
A condition in which the heart has stopped generating electrical activity that creates muscular contractions to pump blood.
atrial fibrillation
A common arrhythmia characterized by fibrillating atria and rapid pulsing of the ventricles. It results in chest pains, difficulty breathing, and pooling of blood in the atria, which can cause clotting that can lead to stroke.
aura
The first stage of a generalized seizure, during which the person experiences perceptual disturbances like a sight, a smell, or a feeling of anxiety.
autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
A group of medical conditions characterized by repetitive behaviors and some degree of communication and social impairment.
automated external defibrillator (AED)
A portable electronic device that analyzes the heart’s electrical rhythm and, if necessary, can deliver an electrical shock to a person in cardiac arrest.
AVPU scale
An assessment of a patient’s level of consciousness, consisting of alert, responsive to verbal stimuli, responsive to painful stimuli, and unresponsive.
avulsion
A wound in which a portion of the skin and soft tissue is partially or completely torn away.

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B

B NICE
An acronym for the five main types of terrorist weapons: biological contamination, nuclear denotation, incendiary fires, chemical release, and explosives.
backboard
A firm, 72-inch (183-cm) wooden, molded plastic, or metal board used to secure a patient for the purpose of immobilizing the head, neck, spine, hips,and legs.
bacteria
One-celled organisms, with shapes ranging from rods to spheres and spirals, that exist virtually everywhere, including in soil, water, acidic hot springs, and the deep recesses of the Earth’s crust. Bacteria also live in symbiotic and parasitic relationships with plants and animals. (There are approximately 10 times the amount of bacteria in and on the human body than there are human cells.) Although some bacteria are beneficial to the ecosystem or the life forms they inhabit; others cause infection and are classified as a type of pathogen.
bag-valve-mask resuscitator (BVM)
A hand-held breathing device consisting of a self-inflating bag, a one-way valve, and a face mask.
bandage
Material used to bind an injured body part or to hold a sterile dressing in place over an open wound.
bandage compress
A thick gauze dressing attached to a gauze bandage so that the dressing can be placed over the wound and the bandage wrapped around the wound to secure the dressing in place.
barotrauma
An injury sustained because of pressure differences between areas of the body and the surrounding environment, most commonly occurring in air travel and scuba diving.
battery
The crime of touching a person without that person’s consent.
behavorial emergency
A situation involving one or more persons who are exhibiting unacceptable, erratic, and intolerable actions.
bind
To wrap securely with bandages.
binder
A cloth wrapped around a patient’s body to hold an injured arm (sometimes in a sling) in place against the chest.
biohazard
A biological agent that presents a hazard to the health or well-being of those exposed.
bioterrorism
The deliberate release of agents typically found in nature, such as viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens, to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants.
bipolar disorder
A medical condition that causes abnormal, severe shifts in mood, energy, and functioning, ranging from depression to mania.
birth
The act or process of bringing forth offspring. Birth is also known as parturition.
birth canal
The passageway from the uterus to the outside of the body through which a baby travels during birth.
blanket drag
A method of moving a patient by rolling him/her onto a blanket and dragging the patient head first.
blast injury
An injury caused by the energy or debris released by an explosion or by blunt trauma caused by falling against an object or the ground.
bleeding
The loss of blood from arteries, veins, or capillaries.
blood
The fluid, consisting of plasma, blood cells, and platelets, that circulates in the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins carrying nourishment and oxygen to, and bringing away waste products from, all parts of the body.
blood glucose level (BGL)
The level of glucose in the blood as measured by a glucometer.
blood pressure (BP)
The pressure exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels, especially the arteries. It varies with the strength of the heartbeat, the elasticity of the arterial walls, the volume and viscosity of the blood, and a person’s health, age, and physical condition.
blood volume
The total amount of blood circulating within the body.
bloody show
A thick discharge from the vagina that occurs during labor as the mucous plug is expelled. The bloody show often signifies the onset of labor.
blunt trauma
An injury to the body caused by hitting or being hit by a large external object as the result of violence or an accident.
body mechanics
The application of kinesiology to the use of proper body movement in daily activities, to the prevention and correction of problems associated with posture, and to the enhancement of coordination and endurance.
body substance isolation (BSI) precautions
Protective measures to prevent exposure to communicable diseases by defining all body fluids and substances as potentially infectious and avoiding contact.
body system
A group of organs and other structures that works together to carry out specific functions.
bone
Any of the parts of the skeleton, made up of hard, dense tissue that give structure and protection for the body.
brachial artery
The main artery of each upper arm that runs from the shoulder to the bend at the elbow.
Braxton-Hicks contractions
False labor characterized by irregular contractions of the uterus that generally do not become more frequent or intense as they do during true labor.
breathing emergency
A life-threatening situation related to breathing impairment or arrest; also called a respiratory emergency.
breathing rate
The number of breaths per minute.
breech birth
The delivery of a baby feet or buttock first.
bulb syringe
A small device consisting of a nozzle and a compressible rubber bulb used for injection, irrigation, or suction.
burn
A wound to the skin and other tissue caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, and radiation.

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C

C-section
Cesarean section.
Cannabis products
Substances derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, including marijuana and hashish. When smoked or eaten, these products can produce feelings of elation, distorted perceptions of time and space, and impaired judgment and coordination.
capillary
One of the minute blood vessels that connect arterioles and venules and are a part of an intricate network throughout the body for the interchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other substances between blood and tissue cells.
capillary refill
A technique for estimating blood perfusion by applying pressure to the patient’s nail bed or finger tip until the skin blanches and then timing the return of color (i.e., blood) to the area. For an adult, blood should refill the capillaries in 2 seconds or less. For a newborn or infant, capillary refill can be tested by applying pressure to the sternum or hip. For pets, pressure can be applied to the gums (carefully so as not to be bitten).
carbon dioxide (CO2)
An ordorless gas byproduct of cellular metabolism that collects in human and animal tissues, is cleared from the tissues by the blood within the veins, is carried by the hemoglobin in the red blood cells, and removed from the body via the lungs in exhaled air. In plants, carbon dioxide is photosynthesized into carbohydrates and water with oxygen as a byproduct. The quantity of carbon dioxide in fresh air is about 360 to 390 parts per million (ppm). At about 10,000 ppm (1% concentration), carbon dioxide may begin to make people drowsy, and at 70,000 to 100,000 ppm (7% to 10% concentration), carbon dioxide may cause suffocation despite the presence of sufficient oxygen. The concentration of carbon dioxide in expired air is approximately 40,000 ppm (4%).
carbon monoxide (CO)
An odorless, colorless, tasteless toxic gas produced as a byproduct of combustion, especially in enclosed environments.
cardiac arrest
A medical condition in which the heart stops or beats too irregularly or weakly to generate a pulse and pump blood.
Cardiac Chain of Survival
A set of critical steps in responding to a cardiac emergency: (1) early recognition of the emergency and early access to EMS, (2) early CPR, (3) early use of an AED, (4) effective advanced cardiac life support, and (5) integrated post-arrest cardiac care.
cardiac muscle
The specialized type of muscle tissue found in the heart.
cardiogenic shock
A type of shock in which the heart is unable to supply an adequate supply of blood to the vital organs of the body. Cardiogenic shock can be the result of heart disease or injury to the heart muscle.
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
A lifesaving technique that combines chest compressions and artificial ventilations to provide oxygen to the body and to circulate blood to vital organs for a nonbreathing, pulseless patient. Early CPR is a “rung” in Cardiac Chain of Survival.
cardiovascular disease
A disease affecting the heart and blood vessels.
carotid artery
One of the major arteries supplying blood to the brain, located on either side of the neck.
CBRNE
An abbreviation used by the US Department of Homeland Security to describe the main types of weapons of mass destruction:chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive.
cell
The basic structural, functional, and biological unit of all living organisms; the smallest unit of life capable of specialization and independent replication. A human being is composed of about 100 trillion cells.
cerebrospinal fluid
A clear fluid that flows within the ventricles of the brain and around the brain and spinal cord.
cervical collar (c-collar)
A rigid device positioned around the neck to limit movement of the head and spine.
cervix
The lower, narrow part of the uterus that opens into the vagina during childbirth so the baby can enter the birth canal from the uterus.
Cesarean section (C-section)
The delivery of the baby through an incision in the mother’s belly and uterus.
chemical burn
A wound to the skin and soft tissue caused by contact by a caustic chemical.
chest compressions
A technique used in CPR to clear a blocked airway or to simulate the pumping action of the heart to circulate blood by pressing in on the sternum 30 times in approximately 18 seconds (i.e., a rate of 100 compressions per minute) to a depth of about one-third the depth of the patient’s chest. For adult and child patients, two hands are used to compress the chest about 2 inches (child) or at least 2 inches (adult). For an infant, two fingers are used to compress the chest about 1.5 inches. When two rescuers perform CPR together (compressor and ventilator) on the patient, the number of compressions for a child or infant is reduced to 15.
chief complaint
A brief description, usually in the patient’s own words, of the reason the patient sought help or made a call to emergency medical services.
child
For the purpose of providing emergency medical care, a patient who appears to be older than 1 and less than 12 years old. For AED use, a child is approximately 8 years old or younger and less than 55 pounds.
child abuse
Actions that result in the physical and/or psychological harm of a child. These actions can include neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or verbal abuse.
child neglect
The most frequently reported type of abuse in which the parent or guardian fails to provide the necessary, age-appropriate care to a child, which can include insufficient emotional attention, supervision/support, medical care, etc.
chronic
Persistent over a long period of time.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
A progressive lung disease in which the airways become obstructed and the alveolar sacs lose their ability to fill with air.
circulatory system
The organs and structures that circulate oxygen-rich blood and other nutrients throughout the body and remove waste products.These organs and structures include the heart, blood, and blood vessels.
circumferential splint
A type of splint that surrounds and encircles an injured body part.
clinical depression
A mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for an extended period of time.
closed fracture
A fracture in which the skin over the broken bone is intact.
closed wound
An injury in which soft tissue damage occurs beneath the skin and skin remain intact.
clothes drag
An emergency move performed by grasping the collar of the patient’s shirt and dragging the patient on the floor while cradling the patient’s head with your forearms to prevent movement. This technique can be used to move a patient with a suspected spinal injury.
clotting
The process by which blood thickens at the site of a wound to seal the opening and stop the bleeding.
cognitive impairment
A mental condition that adversely affects thinking, including memory, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making.
commotio cordis
Sudden cardiac arrest caused by a blunt, nonpenetrating blow to the chest, which triggers ventricular fibrillation.
communication center (dispatch)
The point of contact between the public and advanced medical responders when a bystander calls 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. The communication center is also known as the public service answering point (PSAP).
compartment syndrome
An increase in pressure within a limited space that presses on and compromised blood vessels, nerves, and tendons that run through that limited space.
competence
The patient’s ability to understand questions and the implications of decisions to be made.
complex partial seizure
A type of partial seizure in which the patient may experience an altered mental status or unresponsiveness.
crush injury
An injury to a part of the body caused by a high degree of pressure that may result in serious damage to underlying tissues as well as bruising, bleeding, fracture and compartment syndrome.
cyanosis
A condition in which the patient’s skin, nail beds, and mucous membranes appear bluish or grayish in color due to insufficient oxygen in the blood.

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D

Deaf culture
The social beliefs, behaviors, art, literary traditions, history, values, and shared institutions of communities that are affected by deafness and which use sign languages as the main means of communication.
deafness
The partial or total inability to hear.
debriefing
A internal evaluation of a first aid/medical response team following an emergency procedure. Also, a crisis intervention by a grief counselor or similar professional to help people cope with loss or severe or graphic injury/suffering.
decompression sickness
A potentially favorite disorder.
deformity
A major difference in the shape of a body part compared to the average shape of the part.
defusing
A short, informal debriefing following a serious or traumatic event to help a witness or responder cope.
dehydration
The excessive loss of body fluids. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening.
delusion
A fixed, false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.
dementia
A general term for the decline in mental abilities such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning that is severe enough to interfere with daily life.
dependency
The need or strong desire to use a drug.
depressant
A drug or other agent that inhibits the central nervous system, which affects balance, judgment, and the functioning of vital organs. Depressants are used in medicine to treat anxiety, high blood pressure, and tension.
dermis
The middle layer of the skin that contains the nerves, sweat glands, oil glands, and blood vessels.
designer drug
A potent substance modified from medicine for illegal use.
detailed physical exam
An in-depth, head-to-toe physical assessment of the patient’s body performed by close examination and palpation to look for evidence of illness or injury. This exam takes longer than a focused or rapid physical exam.
diabetes
A disease in which there are high levels of blood glucose due to defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both.
diabetic coma
A life-threatening complication of diabetes in which high levels of blood sugar cause the patient to become unconscious.
direct force
A physical effect that causes injury at the point of impact on the body.
diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
An accumulation of organic acids and ketones (waste products) in the blood that occurs when there is inadequate insulin and high blood sugar levels.
diastolic blood pressure
The force exerted against the arteries when the heart is at rest between contractions.
digestive system
A physical effect that causes injury at the point of impact on the body.
direct force
A physical effect that causes injury at the point of impact on the body.
direct medical control
Immediate or online direction of EMS personnel by an emergency care physician.
dispatcher
See public service answering point (PSAP) dispatcher.
distributive shock
Any type of shock caused by an inadequate distribution of blood throughout the body, which leads to inadequate volumes of blood returning to the heart. Distributive shock includes neurogenic/vasogenic shock, anaphyllaxis, and septic shock.
do no harm
A guiding principle of all first aid and medical care.
do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order
An advance directive that protects a patient’s right to refuse efforts for resuscitation.
DOTS
A mnemonic for signs to look for during the physical exam: deformities, open wounds, tenderness, and swelling.
dressing
Any material used for covering and protecting a wound.
droplet transmission
A mode of disease transmission that occurs when a person inhales droplets of saliva and other body fluids from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
dropping
A physical condition in which the fetus drops to a lower position in the mother’s body and becomes engaged in the mother’s pelvis. Dropping usually takes place a few weeks before labor begins.
drowning
An event in which a victim experiences respiratory impairment due to submersion in the water. Drowning may or may not result in death or permanent damage to the brain and other vital organs.
drug
A substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease or as a component of a medication. Certain drugs can be abused for the “recreational” purposes of intoxication, mood and perception alteration, performance enhancement, etc.
duty to act
A legal obligation imposed on certain individuals to provide a reasonable standard of care in a first aid emergency.

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E

echo method
A communication technique in which the listener repeats orders word for word to ensure the message was heard correctly and understood.
eclampsia
A complication during pregnancy in which the mother has convulsions or seizures associated with high blood pressure.
ectopic pregnancy
A pregnancy that develops outside the uterus (e.g., in a fallopian tube).
edema
Swelling in body tissues caused by fluid accumulation.
elastic bandage
A stretchable wrap made from cotton, polyester, and synthetic elastic yarns, designed to bind a muscle, bone, or joint injury and to maintain compression and support.
elder abuse
Actions that result in the physical or psychological harm of an older person. The abuse can include neglect, physical harm, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and/or emotional abuse.
elder neglect
A type of elder abuse in which a caregiver fails to provide necessary care to an elderly person.
emergency medical responder (EMR)
A field healthcare worker with the most basic training of all advanced medical personnel. Other advanced medical personnel include EMTs, AEMTs, and paramedics.
emergency medical services (EMS) personnel
Individuals trained and certified as emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians, advanced emergency medical technicians, or paramedics. EMS personnel may also include the public service answering point (PSAP) dispatcher.
emergency medical services (EMS) system
A network of community resources and medical personnel that provides emergency medical care to ill or injured patients.
emergency medical technician (EMT)
A field healthcare worker that responds to emergencies with greater training than an EMR but less training than an AEMT or a paramedic.
emergency oxygen
Oxygen administered to a patient as part of first aid/medical care.
emphysema
A chronic, degenerative lung disease that involves damage to the alveoli.
endocrine system
A group of organs and other structures that regulates the production of hormones that influence body functioning and activities.
engineering control
One of several tools or devices in the workplace used to reduce the risk of exposure to pathogens.
epidermis
The outer layer of the skin that retains fluids and provides a barrier against chemicals, infections, UV radiation, and physical damage.
epilepsy
A brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures.
ethics
A theory or system of moral values or a set of principles that define right conduct.
evaporation
The chemical process by which a liquid or solid converts to a vapor. The evaporation of perspiration cools the body by drawing heat away from the skin.
evisceration
A severe injury to the abdominal region, resulting in the exposure and protrusion of internal organs through the wound.
exposure
An instance during which a person comes in contact with a hazard (e.g, pathogen, blood or other body fluids, caustic chemical, toxin, extreme heat or cold, etc.).
exposure control plan
A plan in the workplace that outlines the employer’s protective measures to reduce or eliminate employee exposure incidents.
expressed consent
Permission to provide emergency care given verbally or nonverbally by a competent adult to a first aid/emergency medical personnel.
external bleeding
Visible loss of blood through an open wound. External bleeding can be minor or major.
extremity
A limb of the body (i.e., an arm or a leg).
extremity lift
A two-responder, nonemergency lift in which one responder supports the patient’s arms and the other, the patient’s legs.
extrication
The safe and appropriate removal of a patient trapped in a motor vehicle or a dangerous situation.

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F

fainting
A common name for syncope.
FAST
A quick stroke assessment involving the patient’s face (does one side of the patient’s face droop?), arms (when holding arms out at shoulder height, does one arm hang lower than the other?), and speech (can the patient say a simple sentence like “it is a beautiful day”?). If there is any indication of weakness, the rescuer should suspect a stroke, note the time and call for EMS personnel.
febrile seizure
A convulsion associated with a significant rise in body temperature in children from about 6 months to 5 years of age.
fetus
The stage of development of the unborn offspring of humans and other viviparous animals between embryo and birth. In humans, the fetus begins to develop at about the third month.
fever
A temporary increase in body temperature above normal variation as a response to disease or infection. Fever, also known as pyrexia or febrile response, differs from hyperthermia, which is an increase in body temperature due to excessive heat production or insufficient thermoregulation.
finger sweep
A method for clearing the mouth of foreign material that presents a risk of blocking the airway or being aspirated.
focused physical exam
A physical assessment that centers around an isolated area of a known injury or chief complaint.
fracture
A cracked, chipped, or broken bone. The types of fractures include open, closed, avulsion, compression, intraarticular, osteoporotic, pathologic, and stress.
frostbite
The freezing of body tissue caused by exposure to the cold and the resulting constriction of blood vessels and reduced blood flow. Frostbite is characterized by cold, numb tissue that appears waxy and bluish-white. In severe cases, blood flow to the area completely stops, resulting in permanent damage (tissue necrosis). There are three degrees of frostbite: frostnip, superficial frostbite, and deep frostbite. Although children, older people, and people with circulation problems are at greater risk for frostbite, most cases occur in adults between 30 and 49.
full-thickness burn
An injury caused by extensive contact with chemicals, electricity, fire, heat, or radiation that damages all layers of the skin and underlying tissue. A full-thickness burn is characterized by charred, leathery, brownish-black skin. This type of injury is sometimes called a third-degree burn.

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G

genitourinary system
The group of organs and structures that eliminates waste from the body and enables reproduction.
gestational diabetes
A type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy.
Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)
A measure of level of consciousness based on eye opening, verbal response, and motor response.
glucose
A simple sugar used as the primary source of energy for body cells.
Golden Hour
The first hour after the onset of a traumatic injury during which time the patient has the best chance of survival if the patient receives early interventions and advanced medical care during this time frame.
Good Samaritan laws
Laws that protect people under certain circumstances who provide emergency care without accepting anything in return.

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H

hallucination
The visual, auditory, and/or tactile perception of something while awake that appears to be real but instead has been created by the mind. Common hallucinations include a crawling sensation on the skin, hearing voices or sounds like footsteps, seeing people or objects that are not really there, and smell foul odors.
hallucinogen
A substance that affects mood, sensation, thinking, emotion, and self-awareness; that alters perceptions of time and space; and/or produces delusions or hallucinations.
heart
A fist-sized muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the body.
heart attack
Permanent damage to the heart muscle caused by sudden insufficient blood flow to the heart, caused by an embolism (blood clot) or ruptured blood vessel within the heart muscle. Also called a myocardial infarction.
heat stroke
The most serious form of heat-related illness that develops when the body’s cooling mechanisms are overwhelmed and body begins to overheat, resulting in damage to body systems and other life-threatening conditions.
hemorrhagic shock
A type of hypovolemic shock caused by excessive blood loss.
hyperthermia
Elevated body temperature due to failed thermoregulation that occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate.
hypodermis
Another name for subcutaneous tissue, the deepest layer of the skin below the epidermis and the dermis.
hypoglycemia
A medical condition caused by too little sugar in the bloodstream. This condition is also called low blood glucose, hypoglycemic shock, or insulin shock.
hypoperfusion
Another name for shock.
hypotension
Abnormally low blood pressure.
hypothalamus
The portion of the brain (about the size of a pearl) that produces hormones that control blood pressure, body temperature, hunger, mood, satiety, thirst, water balance, etc.
hypothermia
A condition in which the body’s core temperature drops below that required for normal metabolism and body functioning. If a body is exposed to the cold and its inner mechanisms cannot replenish the heat being lost, the body’s core temperature falls and classic signs and symptoms emerge, including shivering and mental confusion.
hypovolemia
A condition in which there is an abnormal decrease of the fluid in blood volume.
hypovolemic shock
A type of shock caused by an abnormal decrease in blood volume.
hypoxemia
A condition in which there is a decreased level of oxygen in the blood. Hypoxemia can disrupt body functioning, harm body tissues, and threaten the patient’s life.
hypoxia
A condition in which insufficient oxygen is delivered to the body’s cells.
hypoxic
The state of a body having a below-normal concentration of oxygen in body tissues.

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I

ibuprofen (from iso-butyl-propanoic-phenolic acid)
A nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used for alleviating fever, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain. Some trademarks for ibuprofen include Advil, Motrin, and Nupren.
immobilize
To keep an injured body part from moving by binding and/or splinting it.
immune response
The series of steps the body takes to attack harmful organisms that invade the body.
immune system
The network of cells, proteins, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body against organisms that invade the body to cause infection and disease. To read more about the immune system, go to Immune System 101 on Aids.gov or to Body Basics on Kids Health.
impaled object
An object that pierces the skin and soft tissue and remain embedded in the open wound.
implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
A miniature electronic device inserted under the skin in the chest to detect and correct abnormal heart rhythms by delivering electric shocks.
implantation
The attachment of a fertilized egg to the wall of the uterus 6 or 7 days after conception.
implied consent
A legal concept that assumes an unconscious adult patient or absent parent/guardian of a child would give consent for emergency care if they were present and able to do so.
in good faith
Actions taken in the best interest of the patient.
indirect contact
A mode of disease transmission caused by touching a surface or object contaminated with infected blood or other body fluids.
indirect force
The cause of an injury located in a part of the body away from the point of impact.
indirect medical control
A type of medical direction that includes education, protocol review, and quality improvement for emergency care providers but not direct contact with a medical doctor.
infant
For the purpose of providing emergency medical care, a patient who appears to be younger than about 1 year of age.
infection
The invasion of the body by a disease-causing pathogen.
ingested poison
A substance that can injure or kill people or animals if it gets into their bodies by being swallowed.
inhalant
A medicine or illegal drug that is breathed into the lungs.
inhaled poison
A substance that can injure or kill people or animals if it is breathed into the lungs.
injected poison
A substance that can injure or kill people or animals if it enters the body through a bite, sting, or syringe.
in-line stabilization
Any technique used to align the patient’s head and neck with the spine and to minimize movement.
innate immunity
The type of protection from disease that people are born with.
insulin
A hormone produced by the pancreas to allow glucose to be processed by the cells of the body. Individuals with diabetes may not produce insulin naturally; it may have to be taken into the body as a medication.
integumentary system
A collection of organs and other structures that include the skin, hair, nails, and exocrine glands. Skin forms the body’s outer covering to retain fluids and forms a barrier that protects the body from chemicals, infections, UV radiation, and physical damage. The hair and nails extend from the skin to reinforce the skin and protect it from environmental harm. The exocrine glands produce oil, sweat, and wax to cool, protect, and moisturize the skin.
intercostal
Located between the ribs.
internal bleeding
Loss of blood from a ruptured blood vessel that occurs under the skin (as a bruise) or inside the body. Heavy internal bleeding may occur in the abdominal cavity, chest cavity, digestive tract, or tissues surrounding large bones, such as the femur or the pelvis, that are broken.

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J

jaw-thrust maneuver
A technique for opening the airway that involves lifting the lower jaw without tilting the head back. This maneuver is used when the patient is suspected of having a head, neck, or back injury.
joint
A structure of the body where two or more bones come together, supported by skeletal muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
jugular vein
Any of the several large blood vessels of the neck that take oxygen-poor blood from the brain, face, and neck. Each external jugular vein has tributaries that include the anterior and posterior external jugular veins and interior jugular veins.

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K

kidney
Either of the small, bean-shaped organs, located on either side of the spinal column just behind the abdominal cavity. The primary function of the kidneys is to maintain the proper balance of water and minerals (including electrolytes) in the body. An additional function is filtration and excretion of waste products from the processing of food, drugs, and harmful substances (toxins). Kidneys also regulate blood pressure and secrete certain hormones.
knee
A joint between the thigh and the lower leg with two articulations, one between the femur and tibia and another between the femur and the patella.
kneecap
The thick, triangular bone that articulates with the femur and protects the anterior articular surface of the knee joint. The kneecap is also known as the patella.

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L

labor
The birth process, beginning with the contraction of the uterus and dilation of the cervix and ending with the stabilization and recovery of the mother.
laceration
A cut or tear in the soft tissue of the body.
level of consciousness (LOC)
A patient’s state of awareness, ranging from being fully alert to unconscious.The AVPU scale is used to determine LOC.
ligament
A fibrous band that holds bones together at a joint.
litter
A portable stretcher used to carry a patient over rough terrain.
lividity
Purplish color in the lowest-lying parts of a recently deceased patient, caused by pooling of blood.
living will
A type of advance directive consisting of a set of written instructions that make a person’s preferences known regarding life-prolonging medical care.
lockjaw
Another name for tetanus.
log roll
A method of rolling a patient onto the side while maintaining body alignment for the purpose of placing a backboard, litter, or blanket underneath the patient.

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M

malpractice
An instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional.
mania
A state of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, arousal, and/or energy levels.
manual stabilization
A technique used to achieve spinal motion restriction by supporting the patient’s head with both hands in the position it was found. The patient’s head can be moved in line with the body unless there is obvious neck trauma or pain/resistance when attempting to gently adjust the head.
material safety data sheet (MSDS)
A document containing a description and physical properties of a hazardous chemical stored at a workplace along with specific instructions for safe handling and use of the substance.
mechanism of injury
The specific force, energy, or circumstances that caused trauma to the patient’s body.
meconium
A thick, green substance, made up of desquamated cells, mucus, and bile, that accumulates in the bowel of the fetus and is typically discharged shortly after birth.
meconium aspiration syndrome
A serious condition in which the newborn breathes in a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid around the time of delivery.
medical control and direction
Medical oversight and instructions given by an emergency physician to EMS personnel in the field.
medical director
The emergency physician who assumes the responsibility for providing medical oversight to EMS workers in the field.
mental illness
Any of the medical conditions that affect the patient’s mood or ability to think, feel, relate to others, and function in everyday activities.
metabolic shock
A type of shock caused by dehydration due to extreme exposure to heat and/or excessive diarrhea, vomiting, and urination.
metabolism
The physical and chemical processes within the cells of the body involved in the life-sustaining processes of converting oxygen and glucose into energy and making use of that energy.
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
A Staph bacterium that can cause infection while being difficult to treat due to its resistance to many antibiotics.
miscarriage
A spontaneous end to pregnancy before the 20th week, usually due to birth defects in the fetus or placentia.
morbidity
A diseased or morbid state. Also, the incidence of disease or similar condition within a population.
mortality
The state of being mortal. Also, the incidence of death within a population.
mucous membrane
A thin, wet layer of skin inside some parts of the body that produces mucus.
mucous plug
A collection of mucus that blocks the opening into the cervix until the cervix begins to dilate at the end of the pregnancy and it is expelled, causing the bloody show.
multiple birth
The birth of two or more babies in the same pregnancy.
multiple-casuality incident (MCI)
An emergency that results in many victims.
muscle
A soft tissue with protein filaments that expand and contract to produce force and movement, to maintain and change posture, and to assist with body functions (e.g., blood circulation, breathing, digestion, etc.).
musculoskeletal system
The collection of structures within the body, including muscles, bones, and connective tissues, that supports the body, protects internal organs, enables movement, stores minerals, manufactures blood cells, and generates heat.
myocardial infarction (MI)
The death of the heart muscle tissue due to a sudden deprivation of circulating blood. Another name for a heart attack.

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N

narcotic
A drug derived from opium or opium-like compounds used to relieve intense pain. Narcotics can alter mood and behavior.
nasal airway
Another name for nasopharyngeal airway.
nasal cannula
An oxygen delivery device for a conscious patient consisting of thin, plastic tubing with two prongs that fit in the nostrils to delivery a low flow of oxygen (1 to 6 liters per minute) through the nose. The device is held in place on the face by wrapping the tubing behind the patient’s ears (see illustration).
nasal septum
The bony structures that divide the nasal airway into two nostrils.
nasopharyngeal airway (NPA)
An airway adjunct that is lubricated with a water-soluble lubricant and inserted through the nostril and into the throat to help keep the tongue from blocking the airway. The NPA can be used on conscious or unconscious patients, but it should not be used if the patient has head trauma. Compare with oropharyngeal airway.
nature of illness
The specific medical condition or complaint for which the patient needs care, as determined by the assessment of the patient.
needlestick
A penetrating wound from a hypodermic needle, a sewing needle, or other similar sharp object.
negligence
A failure to provide the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances.
nervous system
A collection of organs and other structures, including the brain and spinal cord, that regulates all body functions.
neurogenic shock
A type of distributive shock caused by loss of nervous control of peripheral vessels, resulting in an increase in vascular capacity. Onset is usually sudden but is quickly reversible if the cause is removed and treatment is instituted immediately.
next of kin
The closest relatives of a deceased person, usually the spouse and immediate family.
nonrebreather mask
A delivery device used to administer a high flow of oxygen (10 to 15 liters per minute) to a breathing patient.
nonswimming rescues
Reaching, throwing, or wading assists usually performed with a line and/or floatation equipment.
normal sinus rhythm (NSR)
The regular beating of the heart, caused by the sinoatrial (SA) node in the right atrium of the heart.

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O

obstetric pack
A first aid kit containing items helpful in emergency delivery of a baby.
obstructive shock
A type of shock caused by an obstruction to blood flow, usually within the blood vessels.
occlusive dressing
An air- and water-tight covering for a wound, used for sucking chest wounds (open pneumothorax) and abdominal eviscerations. An occlusive dressing can be made by soaking a gauze pad in petroleum jelly or by using ordinary plastic wrap.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
A federal agency whole role is to promote the safety and health of workers in the United States by creating and enforcing standards; by providing training, outreach, and education; by establishing partnerships; and by encouraging process improvement in workplace safety and health.
ongoing assessment
The process of rechecking a patient’s condition by repeating the primary assessment and reassessing vital signs, chief complaint, and the result of your interventions of care. The ongoing assessment is repeated every 15 minutes for stable patients and every 5 minutes for unstable patients until more advanced medical care arrives and the patient is transported to the emergency room.
open fracture
An injury that occurs when a broken bone pierces the skin, causing an open wound. The bone end may be protrude from the wound, or it may pierce the skin and then slip back under the skin.
open wound
An injury to soft tissue that causes a break in the skin and bleeding.
opportunistic infection
An illness caused by a microorganism that usually does not become pathogenic unless the immune system becomes impaired.
OPQRST
A mnemonic used to help recall the following areas of inquiry regarding the pain a patient is experiencing: onset, provocation, quality, region, severity, and time.
oral airway
Another name for an oropharyngeal airway.
organ
A collection of tissues joined together in a structural unit to perform specific body functions.
O-ring gasket
A mechanical gasket in the shape of a torus, used to make an air-tight seal between an oxygen cylinder and the pressure regulator.
oropharyngeal airway (OPA)
An airway adjunct for unconscious patients only inserted through the mouth and into the throat to help keep the tongue from blocking the airway. Compare with nasopharyngeal airway.
overdose
The application of a drug or similar substance in quantities greater than recommended or generally practiced, resulting in adverse reactions, toxicity, and/or death.
oxygen
A colorless, odorless, tasteless diatomic gas used in the cellular respiration of all complex life. By mass, oxygen is the third most abundant element on earth (after hydrogen and helium), and diatomic oxygen constitutes about 20.8% of the atmosphere.
oxygen cylinder
A steel or alloy tank that contains a pressurized gas, such as oxygen.

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P

pacemaker
A device implanted under the skin in the chest (usually below the right collarbone) to regulate the heartbeat in a patient with a weak or erratic heartbeat.
packaging
The process of getting a patient ready to be transferred safely from the scene to an ambulance or a helicopter.
pack-strap carry
An emergency move in which the patient is supported upright across the rescuer’s back with arms draped over the rescuer’s shoulders.
palpation
Examination by touch, such as when feeling for a pulse or performing a detailed physical exam.
pandemic influenza
An animal influenza virus that gains the ability for efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission and then spreads globally due to limited immunity in humans.
panic
The sudden, unreasoning, and overwhelming fear that grips one in the face of real or imagined danger.
paradoxical breathing
An abnormal type of breathing that can occur with a chest injury in which one area of the chest moves in the opposite direction to the rest of the chest.
paramedic
A field healthcare worker that works in emergency medical situations and has more training/experience than an AEMT, EMT, or EMR.
partial seizure
A seizure that affects only part of the brain. It may be simple or complex.
parturition
Another name for birth.
physical exam
An assessment of the patient’s body to find evidence of illness or injury. The physical exam is part of the secondary assessment of the patient. There are three types of exams: focused, rapid, and detailed.
pneumothorax
The collapse of a lung due to pressure on it caused by air in the chest cavity.
poison
A substance that has a detriment effect (i.e., illness, injury, or death) when introduced to the body in sufficient quantity, especially by chemical means. Often, poisons are distinguished from toxins and venoms.
primary assessment
A check of the patient for life-threatening conditions concerning consciousness, airway, breathing, and circulation (pulse and severe bleeding).
psychogenic shock
A type of shock that results from severe emotional stress (e.g., critical incident stress, post-traumatic stress syndrome, etc.) that causes blood to pool in the body away from the brain. Syncope may occur as a result of this type of shock.
public service answering point (PSAP)
Any of the U.S. emergency communication centers with operators that answer emergency calls and dispatch local emergency medical services, police, and/or fire department personnel.
public service answering point (PSAP) dispatcher
Any of the operators in an U.S. emergency communications center that receives 9-1-1 emergency calls, obtains critical information about the emergency, and transmits this information to appropriate emergency personnel that respond to the emergency.
pyrexia
Another name for fever.

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Q

quality CPR
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed in the most effective way. This includes proper hand placement on the chest, sufficient depth of compression, sufficient rate of compression, complete chest recoil following each compression, sufficient number of compressions in each cycle, and adequate ventilation for hypoxic patients.
For more about quality CPR read the American Heart Association article about Quality CPR.

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R

radiation
The process by which electromagnetic waves travel through a vacuum or matter-containing media.
radiation injury
Damage to the brain, heart, blood vessels, skin, and other parts of the body caused by a large dose of electromagnetic waves.
rapid physical exam
A quick, head-to-toe assessment of a medical or trauma patient.
rappelling
The act of descending (as from a cliff) by sliding down a rope passed through a friction device or under one thigh, across the body, and over the opposite shoulder.
regulator
A device used to control the flow of a gas, a liquid, or electric current.
respiratory shock
A type of shock resulting from a failure of the lungs to transfer sufficient oxygen into the bloodstream due to respiratory distress.
rigid splint
A device made by lashing one or more stiff objects along a limb suspected of being fractured or dislocated to keep the injured body part, the displaced or broken bones, and the adjacent joints from moving.
roentgen ray
Another name for x-ray.

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S

A check of the emergency scene to determine scene safety, the cause of the emergency, the number of patients, and resources needed to provide care. The scene size-up precedes an approach to the patient and patient assessments.
secondary assessment
A comprehensive check of a conscious patient, including an assessment of the patient’s level of consciousness using the AVPU scale, a SAMPLE history, a physical exam, and an assessment of the patient’s vital signs.
seizure
A temporary disruption off normal activity in the brain caused by disease, fever, infection, injury, metabolic abnormalities, or conditions that decrease oxygen levels in the brain. There are various types of seizures including absence, febrile, partial, and tonic-clonic.
self splint
Another name for anatomic splint.
septic shock
A type of distributive shock that occurs when an infection has spread to the point that bacteria are releasing toxins into the bloodstream. The patient’s blood pressure drops as body tissues are damaged by these toxins.
shock
A progressive condition due to illness and injury (also called hypoperfusion) in which the circulatory system fails to adequately circulate oxygenated blood to all parts of the body, resulting in a series of autonomic responses designed to protect vital organs by reducing blood flow to the extremities. This causes a patient in shock to appear pale or ashen and feel weak and cool to the touch. The effects of shock are intensified by severe injury, pain, loss of blood, dehydration, being chilled or overheated, and the patient’s mental state.
Rescuers can minimize shock by lessening pain and loss of blood, monitoring vital signs and administering oxygen if available, maintaining normal body temperature, and comforting/reassuring the patient. In advanced stages of shock, the patient can become listless and unresponsive with rapid but weak and irregular pulse and shallow breathing. In the most severe cases, shock can contribute to the death of the patient.
There are several types of shock: cardiogenic, distributive, hypoglycemic, hypovolemic, metabolic, obstructive, psychogenic, and respiratory. 
SIDS
Sudden infant death syndrome.
sinoatrial (SA) node
A cluster of cells in the right atrium that generates the electrical impulses that set the pace of the heart’s natural rhythm.
skeletal muscle
A type of striated muscle tissue attached to bones by tendons and used to facilitate body movement.
skeleton
A usually rigid supportive or protective structure or framework of the body.
skin
The outer covering of the body, consisting of the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue.
sling
A special type of anatomic or soft splint for the arm or shoulder created by placing the injured arm in the center of a triangular bandage and then tying both ends of the bandage behind the patient’s neck or back so the arm is supported. A sling is often tied to the chest with a binder.
soft splint
A device that used bulky material wrapped and tied around an injured body part to hold it in place and prevent movement.
splint
A manufactured or improvised device used to immobilize an injured body part. Splints include air splints, anatomic splints, rigid splints, slings and binders, soft splints, and vacuum splints.
spontaneous abortion
Another name for a miscarriage.
subcutaneous tissue
The lowest layer of the integumentary system that contains fat, blood vessels, and connective tissues. Subcutaneous tissue is also known as the hypodermis.
suctioning
The process of removing foreign matter (e.g., blood, vomit, etc.) from the mouth by means of a manual or mechanical suctioning device.
sudden cardiac arrest
A medical condition in which the patient’s heart stops abruptly, usually due to arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation. Compression-only CPR is an effective initial treatment for this condition.
sudden death
An abrupt, unexpected natural death, usually caused by a sudden cardiac event.
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
The sudden death of an infant that remains unexplained even after the performance of a complete postmortem investigation, including an autopsy, a review of the case history, and an examination of the scene.
swelling
The sudden enlargement of soft tissue, organs, or other body parts as a result of fluid retention or inflammation associated with illness or injury.
syncope
A brief loss of consciousness caused by a sudden fall of blood pressure or failure of the cardiac systole, resulting in cerebral anemia. Fainting is a common name for syncope.
systolic blood pressure
The force exerted against the arteries when the heart is contracting.
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T

tenderness
In a medical context, the pain or sensitivity of a body part to touch or movement. Tenderness is often associated with a dull pain, such as an aching or soreness.
tendon
A fibrous band of body tissue that attaches skeletal muscle to bone.
tension pneumothorax
A life-threatening injury in which the lung is completely collapsed and air is trapped in the pleural space.
tetanus
An acute infectious disease caused by bacteria that produce a powerful toxin. Tetanus can be transmitted by puncture wounds and animal or human bites. It is also called lockjaw.
thermoregulation
The ability of the body to maintain a normal temperature range, even when the temperature of the surrounding environment is very different. When the body’s ability to thermoregulate fails, the body can overheat (i.e., suffer heat stroke) or become too cold (i.e., suffer hypothermia). The hypothalamus controls thermoregulation within the body.
tonic-clonic seizure
A type of generalized seizure (most often associated with epilepsy and formerly known as a grand mal seizure) that affects the entire brain and consists of a phase of loss of consciousness and muscle rigidity (tonic phase) followed by rapid contraction and relaxation of muscles causing convulsions (clonic phase). Due to physical and nervous exhaustion, postictal sleep with stertorous breathing invariably follows a tonic–clonic seizure. Confusion and complete amnesia upon regaining consciousness is usually experienced and slowly wears off as the person becomes gradually aware that a seizure occurred.
torus
A ring-shaped object.
triage
A method of sorting patients into categories based on the urgency of their need for care. A system of colored tags are often used: red for immediate care (urgent life-sustaining care required), yellow for delayed care (serious injury not adversely affected by a delay), green for walking wounded (wounded but able to walk to a designated area to wait for treatment), and black for decreased/nonsalvageable.
toxin
A poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms.
triangular bandage
A triangular-shaped muslin or cloth bandage that can be folded or rolled to bind an injured body part or hold a dressing in place.

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U

umbilical cord
A flexible structure that attaches the placenta to the fetus, allowing for the passage of blood, nutrients, and waste.
universal precautions
A set of guidelines designed to prevent the transmission of blood-borne pathogens like HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and others by considering all patient blood and certain body fluids as potentially infectious and taking steps to avoid contact.
uterus
A pear-shaped organ in the female pelvis where the embryo forms and develops into a baby; also called the womb.

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V

vacuum splint
A splint that can be molded to the shape of the injured area by extracting air from from the splint.
vagina
The tract leading from the uterus to the outside of the body. Also called the birth canal.
vasogenic shock
A type of distributive shock caused by peripheral vascular dilation due to an allergic reaction, toxins in the bloodstream, or a neurological condition.
vector-borne transmission
The transmission of a pathogen that occurs when an infected animal bites or stings the patient.
vein
A blood vessel that carries oxygen-poor blood from all parts of the body to the heart, except for the pulmonary veins, which carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart from the lungs.
venom
Any of the variety of toxins used by certain animals, including insects, spiders, snakes, etc.
ventilation
The exchange of air between the lungs and atmosphere, allowing for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs.
ventricular fibrillation (V-fib)
A life-threatening arrhythmia characterized by a quivering state of disorganized electrical activity.
ventricular tachycardia (V-tach)
A life-threatening arrhythmia characterized by very rapid contractions of the ventricles.
venule
A very small blood vessel that draws blood from capillaries and unite with other venules to form a vein.
vertigo
A sensation of motion in which the individual or the individual’s surroundings seem to whirl dizzily. Vertigo often occurs when the person is in a very high place.
virus
A small infectious agent that replicates only inside the cells of other living organisms. Viruses infect all plant and animal life, including humans.
vital organs
Body parts essential to life, such as the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, etc.
vital signs
Measures of various physiological statistics (e.g., pulse rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, etc.), often taken by health professionals in order to assess basic body functions.
voluntary muscles
Muscles that attach to bones; also known as skeletal muscles.
vomit
The contents of the stomach spewed out of the mouth due to illness or intoxication.

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W

walking assist
An emergency move or removal from the water (zero-depth environments or swimming pools with stairs) when the patient can stand but has difficulty walking unsupported. The walking assist is performed by supporting one of the patient’s arms over the rescuer’s shoulder while the rescuer supports the patient’s body by reaching across the back and holding the patient’s waist.
wheezing
A high-pitched whistling sound that sometimes accompanies breathing difficulty.
withdrawal
The mental and physical discomfort produced when a person stops using or abusing a substance to which the person is addicted.
womb
Another name for the uterus.
work practice controls
Measures taken on the job to reduce the likelihood of exposure to blood and other body fluids by changing/controlling the way tasks are performed.
wound
An injury involving the soft tissue of the body.

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X

X-chromosome
The sex chromosome associated with female characteristics, occurring with another X-chromosome in the female sex chromosome pair and with a Y-chromosome in the male sex chromosome pair.
x-ray
A stream of high-energy photons (with a wavelength range of approximately 0.01 to 10 nanometers) used for its penetrating power in radiography, radiology, radiotherapy, and scientific research; also called roentgen ray. An x-ray is also a picture taken using x-rays.
xerosis
Abnormal dryness of the skin, eyes, or mucous membranes. Also, the hardening of aging tissue.
xiphoid process
The cartilage at the lower end of the sternum. Pressing too low on the sternum during chest compressions can cause the xiphoid process to break off, possibly causing internal injuries.

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Y

Y-chromosome
The sex chromosome associated with male characteristics, occurring with one X-chromosome in the male sex chromosome pair.
yawn
To open the mouth wide with a deep inhalation, usually involuntarily from drowsiness, fatigue, or boredom.
yellow fever
An infectious tropical disease caused by an arbovirus transmitted by mosquitoes and characterized by high fever, jaundice, and vomit that is dark in color as a result of gastrointestinal hemorrhaging.

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Z

zinc oxide
An inorganic compound (ZnO) used in the manufacture of baby powder, calamine lotion, and sun block.
zoanthropy
A delusion that one is an animal.

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Thank you Ron for the use of this Glossary