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First aid glossary First aid definitions
The world of first aid can be a confusing one if you are a ‘newbie’, there are lots of terms and terminology used which can seem daunting and confusing. Sometimes, a first aid course can be overloaded with knowledge and theory which is baffling!
Here’s a list of common first aid terms explained in plain english, I hope you find them useful.
Abrasion – Medical term for a graze to the skin. An abrasion is damage to the superficial layers of the skin
Adrenaline – A hormone released by the adrenal glands (just above the kidneys). It increases the heart rate and causes blood vessels to constrict
Anaphylaxis – A life-threatening whole body allergic reaction
Angina – Chest pain brought on by physical exertion or anxiety due to narrowing of the arteries in the heart. Often relieved with rest and medication
Aspirin – A drug that slows down the clotting of the blood
Asthma – A medical condition characterised by difficulty in breathing caused by constriction of the small air tubes in the lungs
Automated External Defibrillator – A device that delivers a controlled electrical shock to the heart in order to restore its normal rhythm.
C-Spine – Cervical spine – your neck.
Compression (head injury) – An injury to the head that causes compression of the brain. This can be due to swelling of the brain itself or bleeding into the skull.
Concussion (head injury) – An injury to the brain which causes ‘shaking’ / ‘jarring’ of the brain.
Contusion – A bruise (bleeding beneath the skin)
Entonox – A safe pain killing gas that can be given by ambulance crews, sometimes known as “gas and air”
Epi-pen – An auto-injecting syringe containing adrenaline used to counteract a major allergic reaction
Epilepsy – A medical condition characterised by repeated seizures. May be controlled by medication
Febrile convulsion – A seizure which occurs in children when they over heat
Fracture – Another term used for a broken bone
Heart attack – Blockage of an artery in the heart (coronary artery) causing severe chest pain and damage to heart muscle
Hyperglycaemia – High blood sugar levels
Hypoglycaemia – Low blood sugar levels
Insulin – A hormone produced by the pancreas that reduces blood sugar levels
Laceration – An injury where there is cutting or tearing of the skin
Medialert – A bracelet which someone may wear containing important medical information about them
Meningitis – A life threatening medical condition where the protective coverings of the brain (the meningies) become infected and inflamed.
Micropore – A brand of medical tape used to fix non-adhesive dressings over injuries. The tape is designed to be hypoallergenic and easy for the casualty to remove.
Mini stroke – Same as a stroke, except symptoms resolve within 24 hours. Sometimes called a “Transi Ischaemic Attack” (TIA)
Open fracture – A fracture where the skin has been broken by the injured bone. Sometimes called a compound fracture
Paracetamol – A common effective painkiller available over the counter (prescription not needed)
Primary survey – The quick initial assessment of a patient. Often structured in an ‘ABC’ approach (airway, breathing, circulation)
Recovery position – A position where the casualty is laying on their side to protect their airway
Salbutamol – A common drug used to treat asthma attacks, often found in inhalers
Scoop stretcher – Sometimes called an orthopaedic stretcher. Used to lift casualties off the ground. Sometimes called an orthopaedic stretcher.
Secondary survey – A more detailed assessment of a patient involving checking for injuries and taking observations
Seizure – Abnormal or excessive activity in the brain that can cause a variety of symptoms such as muscle movement, unconsciousness and rigidity.
Shock – Inadequate oxygen reaching the tissues. Can have various causes such as severe blood loss, burns or allergic reactions
Stroke – A blood clot or bleed in the brain causing symptoms such as loss of movement and facial droop.
Tough cuts – Scissors designed for cutting clothing, seatbelts and other tough things!
Triangular bandage – A triangular-shaped piece of cloth which can be used for various first aid procedures (e.g: a sling)
Please leave a comment if you want to suggest a first aid term to add to the glossary.