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EMS Wordle: Five-letter EMS words you should know

HEENT, palsy, tonic: Brush up on these EMS terms and acronyms while playing the first viral internet sensation of the year


Wordle draws on a list of about 2,500 five-letter words, but does it include any of these words that are part of the EMS lexicon?

Wordle is the first viral internet sensation of 2022. The daily word game challenges players to guess a five-letter word in six or fewer guesses. After entering the first guess, like “pulse,” the game reveals letters that are in the word, but not in the right place; letters that are in the word and in the right place; and letters that are not in the word at all.

You’ve likely seen Wordle grids in your social feeds with some of your friends comparing Wordle to Farmville and other past internet trends.

Wordle draws on a list of about 2,500 five-letter words, but does it include any of these words that are part of the EMS lexicon? Here’s my incomplete list of five-letter EMS words for Wordle: The EMS Edition.

  • DELAY. EMS crews across the United States are reporting long delays in handing off patients at the emergency department. Read about hospital bed delays, also known as wall time and boarding, in the acclaimed “Ambulances Held Hostage” series written by Doug Wolfberg and Steve Wirth.
  • FEVER. Hyperthermia is a sign of infection and patients often paradoxically complain of having a chill or chills. Oral temperature assessment is an under-performed EMS vital sign and taking an infant’s rectal temperature is easy with a little practice.
  • HEART. A paramedic interprets a patient’s 12-lead EKG for signs of a STEMI, which is a type of myocardial infarction or commonly known as a heart attack.
  • PALSY. When a patient presents with paralysis, weakness or uncontrolled body movements, it might be because of a stroke, head injury or Bell’s palsy. It’s important to use the patient assessment process, including AEIOU-TIPS, to determine if the patient is experiencing a life-threatening emergency.
  • PULSE. The patient’s heart rate, measured in beats per minute, and other vital signs are initially measured and monitored throughout treatment and transport to assess if the patient’s condition is improving, worsening or staying the same. It’s also important to know how to find a pedal pulse to check distal extremity circulation.
  • SHOCK. The catch-all term for circulatory system problems is shock. Patients can experience hypovolemic shock from fluid loss, vascular or distributive shock from vascular dilation and cardiogenic shock from heart problems. Anaphylactic shock and septic shock are types of vascular shock.
  • RALES. Fluid in the alveolar spaces can cause abnormal breath sounds. Auscultate every patient’s lungs so you can learn to differentiate abnormal from normal. Rales might be pronounced like rails or rawls, but you can also say crackles or in your radio report – just report, “abnormal lower lung sounds.”
  • SQUAD. In some regions, the ambulance is known as a squad while in other regions, the ambulance is the medic, the rig or the box.
  • TONIC. During a tonic-clonic seizure, tonic is the stiffening or rigid presentation you observe in the patient or that is reported to you by bystanders.

More five-letter EMS words

My Wordle strategy is to initially play words with high-frequency letters like R, S, T, L, N and E, also known as the “Wheel of Fortune” letters. I also try to play words with A or I as those vowels seem to be more common than O, U or Y (sometimes). Here are some more five-letter EMS words that might appear in a future Wordle: The EMS Edition.

  • Break/Broke

  • Chest

  • Lasix

  • Liver

  • Nitro

  • Radio

  • Sinus

  • Siren

  • Skull

  • Spine

  • Valve

  • Vomit

If there was Wordle: The EMS Acronym Edition, here are some five-letter EMS acronyms:


  • ETCO2




What are your five-letter word and acronym suggestions for Wordle: The EMS Edition?

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.