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Top ten words that should be in the EMS dictionary, (but aren't) News

September 17, 2010

The Ambulance Driver's Perspective
by Kelly Grayson

Top ten words that should be in the EMS dictionary, (but aren't)

"Why is it that the cops and firefighters feel the need to beat on the side of the rig after they close the rear doors?" Rookie Partner asked me the other night. "Do they not see that I'm sitting right there in the driver's seat, watching them in the side mirror? Heck, half the time they do it, I'm still in the back with you!"

"They're called Ambuslaps," I informed him. "Anyone who has ever watched television knows that without Ambuslaps, the EMTs would never know when it's time to take the patient to the hospital."

By the blank look on his face, I could tell he had no idea what I was referring to, so with a brief Google search, I was able to introduce my partner to those wonderful words that should be in Taber's Medical Dictionary, but aren't: EMS Sniglets.

While I was helping my partner broaden his horizons, one thing that struck me was that a great many commonly used EMS Sniglets don't appear on any of the existing lists. So on that note, I give you the top ten words that should be in the EMS dictionary, but aren't:

Incarceritis: A constellation of medical complaints brought upon by the imminent threat of legal confinement. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: dyspnea, chest pain, syncope, seizures, incontinence, and coma. See also stainless steel allergy and post-Miranda syncope.

Malignorance: Combination of the words "malignant" and "ignorance," when ordinary, every day "stupid" doesn't even begin to describe the patient's behavior.

Tachylawdia: Condition in which the patient or family member repeats "Lawdy!" more than 100 times per minute. The condition often presents with PJCs (Premature Jesus Complexes) and, depending upon the patient's religious fervor, intermittent "Amens." Often considered a hallmark sign of status dramaticus.

Example: "The patient exhibited tachylawdia with bigeminal PJCs and intermittent Amens."

Polybabydaddia: Condition affecting females under age 25, who have three or more children by different fathers.

Status dramaticus: Disorder in which the patient exhibits seizure-like activity characterized by the lack of urinary incontinence, presence of coordinated muscle movements, and the absence of an appreciable postictal state.

Patients suffering from status dramaticus usually skip the tonic phase altogether. The condition is often exacerbated by an audience of medical professionals or concerned family members. Usually, the seizure-like activity is broken by the insertion of a nasopharyngeal airway or the phrase, "Hold still, big stick..."

Sub acute status dramaticus may often mimic tachlawdia, and many experts believe they are the same disorder.

Chronic hickory deficiency: Often mistakenly diagnosed as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or more rarely, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Easily cured by topical application of hickory to the patient's gluteus maximus, PRN. See also chronic leatheremia.

ECU admit: Admit to the Eternal Care Unit; recently deceased patient.

Wallet biopsy: The act of going through an unconscious patient's wallet, looking for identification, Medic Alert information, or insurance cards.

Low marble count: Manifestations of psychosis in the psychiatric patient with therapeutic psychoactive medication levels. See also chronic microdeckia (not playing with a full deck).

Googlechondria: Condition in which patients look up their symptoms on Google before seeking medical assistance.

Example: "I've been having fever, body aches and this weird rash for about a month. I looked it up on Google, and I'm pretty sure I have ebola."

Got any new EMS Sniglets of your own? Let's see 'em in the comments! 

About the author

Kelly Grayson, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P, is a critical care paramedic in Louisiana. He has spent the past 18 years as a field paramedic, critical care transport paramedic, field supervisor and educator. He is a former president of the Louisiana EMS Instructor Society and board member of the LA Association of Nationally Registered EMTs.

He is a frequent EMS conference speaker and contributor to various EMS training texts, and is the author of the popular blog A Day In the Life of an Ambulance Driver. The paperback version of Kelly's book is available at booksellers nationwide. You can follow him on Twitter (@AmboDriver) or Facebook (, or email him at

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Adam Wade Adam Wade Thursday, December 08, 2011 3:59:15 PM Taxicardia: A condition characterized by a host of unverifiable symptoms that require immediate transportation to a nearby city with an emergency department, which just so happens to be where the pt wishes to, but cannot afford to, transport themselves. Often cured in the same fashion as "status dramaticus".
Jake Stein Jake Stein Monday, February 20, 2012 7:52:06 AM Once again it is promoted in EMS to make a diagnosis based on judgement of religious practices, culture, lifestyle, medical conditions and socioeconomic status for you own amusement rather than an actual medical assessment. There are many types of seizures and not just the big one you see on the Paramedic hero TVs shows. This misconception that all seizure patients must piss their pants just leads to piss poor patient care. Sometimes these terms are made up by providers due to a lack of education or assessement knowledge and just laziness. Some of the medical and psychiatric conditions you are making fun of are very real and deserve respect. Advocating the infliction of pain and anxiety just for your amusement rather than medical benefit or a desire to prove you are right should never be acceptable. If you are wrong and the patient is having a medical emergency, you have inflicted harm with intentional pain without due care. No wonder EMS get eyerolls from other medical professionals when they repeat some of this crap especially when a patient is truly ill or the other professionals might have similar religous beliefs or cultural mannerisms.
Michael Hatfield Michael Hatfield Saturday, September 29, 2012 9:06:57 AM Intudebate ~ The discussion which takes place in the back of the ambulance to decided which person will get the tube on the cardiac arrest patient....
Brodie Verworn Brodie Verworn Saturday, September 29, 2012 9:11:37 AM PSS - Positive Sampsonite Syndrome. Where you are called to a residence and, upon your arrival, you notice a patient with a large leathery growth protruding from their arm, packed and ready to go! "926, upon our arrival, we were greeted by by a 64 YOM, showing PSS."
NoNe Ya NoNe Ya Saturday, September 29, 2012 9:13:39 AM lmao
Val Taylor Val Taylor Saturday, September 29, 2012 10:00:45 AM DID Dumbass Intolerence Disorder, often suffered by Medical professionals, Fire fighters and Police Officers. Prognosis is indiscernible, but treatable. Treatment: large bore IV into the dumbass AC or carotid followed by chemical management. Idelible ink to the forehead of the dumbass so others know to avoid or treat readically. For the professional, relax the rest of the shift knowing you did well.
Michael Moberly Michael Moberly Saturday, September 29, 2012 10:24:30 AM #8 is similar to TMJ - Too Much Jesus.
Ken Rasmussen Ken Rasmussen Saturday, September 29, 2012 12:26:35 PM Triple A.......African American Anxiety.
Omar Turk Omar Turk Saturday, September 29, 2012 3:39:37 PM voluntary unconsciousness.
Chet Becker Chet Becker Saturday, September 29, 2012 5:12:52 PM Arrestogenic Shock. When a person gets arrested for DUI and has a sudden onset of 10/10 CP radiating into his left arm and jaw along with difficulty breathing.
Lisa Harry Lisa Harry Saturday, September 29, 2012 6:46:50 PM Dramalytics=benzo's
Steve Whitehead Steve Whitehead Monday, October 01, 2012 11:16:17 AM Compassionectomy: The complete inability to feel compassion for another individual regardless of the degree of misfortune they experience. Often afflicts individuals who enter EMS for self-serving or ego driven reasons. Sometimes mistaken for experience.
Ray Kemp Ray Kemp Monday, October 01, 2012 11:21:14 AM Steve, that's a great word!!
Steve Whitehead Steve Whitehead Tuesday, October 02, 2012 12:50:58 PM Didn't mean for it to be a thread killer.
Sindy Parker Alexander Sindy Parker Alexander Tuesday, October 02, 2012 10:16:08 PM Triple E- exagerated ethnic event. There was a list like this in JEMS MANY years ago that I have been looking for for YEARS it included the Postive Sampsonite sign along with Falawaffler - person frantically waving arms about so you don't miss the scene despite 2 fire trucks and police car. CCFCCP- CooCoo for cocoa puffs. CRD -Circling the drain.
Brian Engler Brian Engler Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:10:04 AM You need to add Gleek, It's someone who likes to play with the sirens and make them do weird sounds. Also, Gleeky.
Mikaela Anne Cohen Mikaela Anne Cohen Friday, March 29, 2013 6:22:52 PM Cranial-rectal inversion...
Mathew Kagis Mathew Kagis Friday, March 29, 2013 6:25:34 PM GOMER, for "Get Out Of My Emergency Room". The patient who is basically attention seeking with very vague symptoms, who are just fine.
Brian W. Smith Brian W. Smith Friday, March 29, 2013 6:43:20 PM This is tooo good! I believe these may appear on patient records soon!
Sheri Fisher Sheri Fisher Friday, March 29, 2013 6:50:06 PM JMS Jewish Mother syndrome, punctuated by overdose of Oy, Oy,! Secondary symptoms are the "are you married" oral noise and No- he/she HAS to go to Cedars Sinai , yell.
Patrick Gomer Roberson Patrick Gomer Roberson Friday, March 29, 2013 6:53:02 PM We all know triple "A's" are bad but a triple "G" is much worse. loved to pull this one on new student on a forbidden slow day. Phone rings, get information, slam it down and start yelling got a triple "G" and run as fast as we could to the unit. Student of course all hyped up on adrenaline, jumps into the back of the unit with excitement. Take off slowly, no lights, no sirens and the puzzled student will eventually ask why not the rush. We have a triple G and we have got to go! We replied back. we have to go get granny/grandpa and take them to a doctors appointment or home.
Jay Greenblatt Jay Greenblatt Friday, March 29, 2013 8:03:10 PM Nice!
Jess Bargery Jess Bargery Friday, March 29, 2013 8:49:39 PM Pain scale of 1 to bullshit. Bullshit level is characterized by normal vital signs, but is often accompanied by screams over how much the BP cuff hurts their arm.
Kenneth E Bouldin Jr Kenneth E Bouldin Jr Friday, March 29, 2013 9:25:19 PM Eurosepsis....received this diagnosis on hospital discharges, guess it came from Europe!!
Karyn Miller Allen Karyn Miller Allen Friday, March 29, 2013 9:59:23 PM Status Hispanicus- When you have a Hispanic patient going off, screaming AY ay ay uncontrollably. Usually seen in men when their woman leaves them-
Alex Garmon Alex Garmon Saturday, March 30, 2013 5:49:51 PM Love it!
Karl Ashcroft Karl Ashcroft Monday, April 15, 2013 7:37:55 PM Funny as hell. True as well.
Joss Naron Joss Naron Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:51:31 PM Status patheticus. Constant state of pathetic behavior to encourage a shorter stay in Emerg

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