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University of Colorado System

Medical Emergencies: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation

University of Colorado System via Coursera


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In this course, you will develop the knowledge and skills to assess and stabilize certain types of patients for transport. By the end of this course, you will be able to: 1) assess a basic medical patient 2) describe general pharmacologic principles and the skills associated with medication administration, 3) explain airway physiology, the assessment of the airway and available interventions for airway management, 4) identify, assess and formulate a plan to stabilize a patient with a respiratory emergency for transport, and 5) identify, assess and formulate a plan to stabilize a patient with a cardiovascular emergency for transport. 6) describe the most common neurologic and endocrine emergencies and what you can do for them as an EMT.


  • Pharmacology Basics
    • At the end of this module, you will be able to: 1) apply a systematic approach of patient assessment specifically to a patient with a medical complaint, 2) explain the basic principles of pharmacology including forms of medications, routes of medication administration, and to define the basic components of a drug profile and, 3) organize the appropriate steps when administering any medication including the five rights, premedication evaluation and post administration evaluation.
  • Airway and Breathing
    • Assessment of and management of the airway is critical in patient care. This module is all about the airway. In this module you will 1) identify the most important anatomic and physiologic portions of the respiratory system, 2) distinguish between normal and abnormal in the setting of airway and breathing 3) learn how and when to use the various tools you will have as an EMT to stabilize or improve the respiratory conditions in diverse patients.
  • Respiratory Emergencies
    • In this module, we will dig a little deeper into the respiratory system now that you have an overview of how this system works and its importance. By the end of this module you will 1) start to classify types of symptoms and triage them on scene 2) distinguish between an upper and lower airway issues 3) Develop the framework to assess acute and chronic respiratory diseases. 4) Work through the primary and secondary surveys you will perform when faced with a patient with many different respiratory complaints.
  • Cardiovascular Emergencies
    • In this module we cover a system closely related to the respiratory system- the cardiovascular system. In this module you will learn 1) the intricacies of the anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular system. 2) a few of the most common diseases that affect the cardiovascular system 3) how to approach and assess patients with cardiac complaints with an emphasis on patients with possible acute coronary syndromes 4) the differences in treatment for various cardiac complaints.
  • Neurological Emergencies
    • This module encompasses the neurological and endocrine systems. While these may not initially sound related, in this module you will learn how to assess patients with altered mental status and primary neurological complaints. To get to that point, you will: 1) learn the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system and the endocrine system. 2) learn about specific diseases or symptoms of diseases that affect the brain and mental status of a patient. 3) apply this background knowledge to the completing the primary and secondary assessments of a patients with stroke like symptoms, headaches, seizures and with altered mental status.

Taught by

Angela Wright, MD, Whitney Barrett, MD, Arthur Pliaconis and Kathrine Lopez


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 754 ratings

Start your review of Medical Emergencies: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation

  • This is a great overview of the principles surrounding acute medical care of out-of-hospital emergencies. Medical students and primary care practitioners may use the material for review of relevant topics, and aspiring EMTs will be able to appreciate the daily grind of their profession of interest. The offering adequately covers the underlying theory and best practices surrounding medical emergencies, and is best taken in the sequence recommended for the Coursera Specialization where it belongs.

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