Healthy You - Every Day

HealthLingo: How EMS Determines Your Alertness

Find out what the numbers mean when emergency medical services' personnel provide condition reports

Health Lingo Alert Levels

Q: I recently called 911 when my mother fell, and the responding EMS crew was relaying her condition to the nearby hospital. They reported she was “conscious and oriented times four.” What does that mean?

A: When assessing a patient, emergency medical services (EMS) crews determine the person’s level of alertness and consciousness as it relates to person, place, time and situation or event. Does the patient know who they are and where they are? Do they know what day it is and do they know what happened to them? If someone is conscious and oriented times four, they can answer all four questions. The number associated with their level of alertness depends on how many of the four criteria they meet. If a patient knows who they are and where they are but doesn’t know the day or what happened to them, they would be classified as conscious and oriented times two. A level of two could be indicative of a more serious medical problem, such as a head injury or concussion. 

Learn more about the emergency responder training for citizens and health care professionals offered by Lehigh Valley Health Network's George E. Moerkirk Emergency Medicine Institute.

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