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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. This hormone is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Anaphylaxis – A life-threatening whole body allergic reaction which causes airway swelling and shock.
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.