First Aid Acronyms Explained – GCS

First Aid Acronyms Explained – GCS

G – Glasgow

C – Coma

S – Scale

An acronym is a word or name formed as an abbreviation, created from the initial letters of a phrase or a word. The first aid world uses many acronyms to help us remember different treatments. In this series we have explained the meanings of the most common first aid acronyms to help you avoid confusion!

The first aid acronym GCS is a scale used by paramedics in the field and doctors on hospital to judge how conscious a casualty is. The Glasgow Coma Scale run from 0 to 15 and the position on the scale is assessed by the casualties responses to a series of questions or actions.

The Scale was described in 1974 by Graham Teasdale and Bryan Jennett in the Lancet as a way to communicate about the level of consciousness of patients with an acute brain injury.

The findings using the scale guide initial decision making and monitor trends in responsiveness that are important in signalling the need for new actions.


  • Spontaneous
  • To sound
  • To pressure
  • None


  • Orientated
  • Confused
  • Words
  • Sounds
  • None


  • Obey commands
  • Localising
  • Normal flexion
  • Abnormal flexion
  • Extension
  • None

Each of these criterion is assigned a score and the total score is given.

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a very useful device, however it is generally above the level of technical use and understanding required of a first aider.  There is more detailed information available on the Glasgow Coma Scale website.

First Aiders usually use a simpler assessment method, explained by the Acronym A.V.P.U.  You can find out more information on the A.V.P.U. scale in our blog.

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