The Skeletal System

There are 206 bones in the Human Body. Don't believe us? Start counting. The skeletal system serves a couple of functions. It provides shape to (and support for) the body, some parts of the skeletal system provide protection for vital organs, its lever system (in conjunction with the muscles) makes motion possible, and the "flat bones," (specifically, the ribs and sternum) are responsible for the production of red blood cells. It's important to know the names of the major bones, or groups of bones, that make up the human skeleton because they are used to identify anatomical locations (or "regions") on the body.

In order to be able to identify areas of the skull, you would have to know the location of the parietal bone, temporal bone, frontal bone, occipital bone, maxillae and mandible. If the patient has sustained an injury to the face, it is probably more appropriate to use descriptive terms like eyes, nose or mouth, and not as important to know the individual bones in the "orbit" (eye socket) or the individual "nasal bones." One exception would be the zygomatic bones (commonly referred to as "cheek bones") used to locate the zygomatic arch, a common landmark on the face.

The Skeletal System

The clavicle, sternum, scapulae, ribs, cervical vertebrae, thoracic vertebrae, lumbar vertebrae, sacrum, coccyx, and pelvis, help identify areas of the neck, thorax, upper and lower back. The femur, tibia, and fibula identify regions of the lower extremities, while the humerus, ulna, and radius do the same on the upper extremities. The tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges identify areas of the ankle and foot. Carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges are bones that make up the wrist and hand, identifying anatomical areas on that part of the upper extremities.

If you were looking for a radial pulse, it's likely to be found near the radius (DUH!,), or a femoral pulse near the femur. Or if the patient has a suspected fracture of the lower leg, it would sound far more professional (and add greatly to your creditability) to report a suspect fracture of the tibia/fibula. If the patient has a broken jaw, the medical terminology used to "describe" the jaw is "the temporomandibular joint" (TMJ,) that "place" where those two bones join, just in front of the ear. That joint (as well as all joints) is held in place by ligaments, "cord-like pieces" of dense connective tissue that attach bone to bone.

Basic Life Support

Basic Life Support is that part of the Emergency Medical System that goes beyond First Aide in the complexity of the information offered, and supplies the provider some basic "tools" with which to achieve the desired outcome. Basic Life Support is the level of competency to which Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT's) are trained. Their training would include, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR,) Oxygen Therapy and the use of Hare Traction Splints, Kendrick's Extrication Devices (KED's,) Long Spine Boards, and Automatic External Defibrillators. Also included at this level of training are Patient Assessment, the collecting and recording of Patient Vital Signs and the proper use of Ambulance equipment. EMT's are provided with an elementary explanation of body systems, including the Cardiopulmonary System, the Integumentary System, Autonomic Nervous System, the Vascular System, and the Musculoskeletal System.

Basic Life Support providers are expected to continue the patient care started by the First Aide provider, and are trained to work in concert with Advanced Life Support providers by performing the crucial fundamental tasks which are necessary for proper patient care, (which, when performed in a timely fashion, optimize positive patient prognosis,) and by assisting in the performance of the more advanced procedures which should be performed shortly after the completion of the basic life support provision (in "English" that means the patient is more likely to get better, if the "basic stuff" is done quickly and the "advanced stuff" is done shortly after.) The rest of the basic life support section will deal with CPR and discuss, in detail, each of the modules included in an EMT-Basic Course. The content may vary slightly from accepted practice in some parts of the country, as a result of local protocol. The basic information will, however, be in compliance with the generally accepted AHA and EMT curricula

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