First Aid and Training abbreviations

List of First Aid Terms

The Medical field is full of Terms and Acronyms. Here we have compiled a list to help you understand some of the terminology, both medical and slang.

Clearly it is a work in progress as new terms are coming along all the time, but we hope that it will be of use to you.

Some of the slang terms may sound a bit callous, but consider the different traumas that frontline personnel will see on a regular basis. They need to develop a coping mechanism otherwise they would not be able to do their job effectively. Black humour is a way of coping.

0-9 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

  • 111
    • The non-emergency Ambulance number in the UK. if you want medical advice, but don’t think that it warrants an Ambulance response.
  • 999 / 112 / 911
    • The emergency Ambulance number in the UK. For any medical emergency. 999 is the main number, 112 is the European equivalent and 911 is the North American equivalent, both of which are treated as though the person dialled 999.
    • These numbers may be dialled from a mobile ‘phone keypad even if keylock is activated.
  • ABC
    • Airway, Breathing, Commence CPR. The first thing to be done once the area is safe. If the patient is not breathing, this needs to be dealt with before anything else. See also DR ABC
  • AED
    • Automated External Defibrillator – see Defibrillator
  • Analgesia
    • Pain relief – Paracetamol, Entonox, Morphine, Ketamine etc.
  • Asystole
    • Medical – lack of electrical activity in the heart (flatline)
  • AVPU
    • Acronym that measures a patient’s level of response – Alert, Responds to Voice, Responds to Pain, Unresponsive. Especially useful for monitoring trends over time.
  • Awarding Organisation (AO)
    • Also referred to as an Authoritative Body. The AOs create Courses and submit some of them for approval by the Regulator to become a Regulated course. Once Approved, they can offer them to Centres to deliver and can add the Regulator’s logo to Certificates of successful students.
  • Cardiac Arrest
    • A condition where the heart stops beating effectively, leading to a rapid deterioration and eventually death if not reversed. Not to be confused with Heart Attack (qv)
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / CPR
    • A lifesaving technique involving compressing the chest to assist blood circulation and blowing air into the mouth to deliver oxygen to the patient
  • Centre
    • A Training Company that may be registered with one or more AOs and delivers the AO’s Accredited and/or Regulated courses according to the specifications laid down by the AO. It is monitored on behalf of the Regulator by the AO for Regulated courses. It also performs internal monitoring for its own Accredited, but non-Regulated courses.
  • CFR / Community (First) Responder
    • A volunteer trained up by the Ambulance Service to assist with the more serious 999 ambulance calls.
  • Co-Responder
    • A person from an alternative Service (e.g. Police, RAF) trained to assist with the more serious 999 ambulance calls. They may or may not do it in a voluntary capacity.
  • CRB
    • Criminal Records Bureau report. Now superseded buy DBS (qv)
  • CTD
    • Slang – Circling the drain, in other words, close to death.
  • DBS
    • Disclosure and Barring Service (replaces CRB) report, that checks the criminal background of a person.
  • Defibrillator
    • A device that delivers a controlled electric shock across a heart in an attempt to reset it and get it beating on its own again.
  • DR ABC
    • Acronym to remember the order when dealing with serious incidents. Check for: Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and C=Commence CPR if not breathing (and 999 has been dialled).
  • Entonox
    • An Analgesic (painkiller). Consists of a 50:50 mix of Oxygen and Nitrous Oxide. Also called ‘Laughing gas’ and is used for pain relief during injury treatment as well as for childbirth.
  • External Quality Assurer (EQA)
    • An EQA works for one or more Awarding Organisations (AO) and liaises between the AO and the Centre ensuring that the Centre is delivering courses that meet the definition laid down by the AO and that is is following its published procedures. This can be through monitoring of submitted course paperwork, trainer/assessor qualifications and visits.
    • They are an External Quality Assurer as they are External to the Centre.
  • Guided Learning Hours
    • The amount of time a learner spends being taught or instructed. e.g. for an Emergency First Aid at Work qualification, this is 6 hours.
  • Heart Attack
    • A condition where part of the heart’s blood supply gets blocked, depriving part of the heart of oxygen and causing it to start to die. Not to be confused with Angina nor Cardiac Arrest (qv).
  • HSE
    • The Health and Safety Executive. Oversees Health and Safety in the UK.
  • Hyper
    • Hyper is from the Greek meaning ‘high’. Can refer to anything being abnormally high such as hyperthermia (too hot) or Hyperglycaemia (Blood sugar levels too high)
  • Hypo
    • Hypo is from the Greek meaning ‘low’. Can refer to anything being abnormally low, but often used in a Diabetic context to mean low blood sugar level.
  • Internal Quality Assurer (IQA)
    • A qualified Internal Quality Assurer who carries out Monitoring and Quality Assurance tasks on behalf of a Centre.
    • They are an Internal Quality Assurer as they are Internal to the Centre – either directly employed or brought in on an ad hoc basis.
  • Level
    • This is essentially a measure of the level of difficulty that a qualification has. It has a close relationship with the time needed to complete the qualification. E.g.
      • Level 1 – GCSE Grades 1,2 or 3
      • Level 2 – GCSE Grades 4-9, Music Grades 4 and 5
      • Level 3 – A-Level
      • Level 4 – Higher National Certificate
      • …and so on up to Level 9
    • An acronym used to help a First Aider remember the information needed when dialling 999.
      • Location (where)
      • Incident (what has happened – fact, not guesswork)
      • Other Services required (Fire. Police etc.)
      • Number of Casualties
      • Extent of injuries
      • Location (reiterate)
  • LOL
    • Slang – Little old Lady
  • MHFA
    • Mental Health First Aid
  • MOP
    • Member Of the Public. Often a derogatory term
  • Myocardial infarction (MI)
    • A blockage in one of the blood vessels that supplies the heart. Also known as a Heart Attack. If there are no external symptoms it is known as a ‘Silent MI’
  • Normal Sinus Rhythm / NSR
    • Normal regular heartbeat. Patient is healthy and a defibrillator, if monitoring will not allow a shock to occur
  • OfQual
    • The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. Ofqual is a non-ministerial department
  • OfSted
    • Office for Standards in Education. The Government Body that oversees education standards in England
  • Purple Plus
    • Slang – Dead
  • Regulator
    • The Regulator defines the framework for the qualifications and approves Awarding Organisations and their courses.
    • A device that controls the flow of gas (e.g. Entonox) to a patient
  • RICE
    • An acronym standing for Rest, Ice, Comfortable Support, Elevation. Used in the treatment of Strains or Sprains.
  • Sprain
    • An overextension of a ligament
    • Acronym standing for ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction. A type of Heart Attack. The ‘ST’ refers to part of the heart’s electrical waveform.
  • Strain
    • An overextension of a muscle or tendon
  • TIA
    • An acronym for a mini-stroke – one that is temporary
      • Transient (not permanent)
      • Ischaemic (Blockage)
      • Attack
  • Total Qualification Time
    • The amount of time that a learner is estimated to take to achieve a qualification e.g. for an Emergency First Aid at Work qualification, this is 7 hours.
  • Trainer
    • Often a shorthand for Trainer/Assessor. Someone who teaches a topic and also assesses it on behalf of a Centre. In 2013 the HSE did away with having a separate Assessor (examiner) and Trainer for a course.
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / VF
    • Random electrical activity in the heart, preventing it from beating properly. One of the rhythms shockable by a defibrillator.
  • Ventricular Tachycardia / VT / Pulseless VT
    • A condition where the heart is beating too fast and not allowing enough time for it to refill with blood, preventing it from beating properly. One of the rhythms shockable by a defibrillator.
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