Not Your Average Training Tool

Trivial Pursuit® Emergency Medical Services Edition is an easy-to-use and unique way to deliver training to your department members or students. Each game contains a game board—a wheel with six spokes, wedge holders, wedges for each category color, pawns to mark your team’s place on the board, and one die. There are 50 cards, with 300 questions in six different categories. With questions for the basic EMT, advanced EMT and paramedic, the game can be played by players of all certification levels at once, or separately by level.

Of course, you can set up the board and play for fun, but Trivial Pursuit® Emergency Medical Services Edition can easily be deployed as a training activity. While staying true to the general game objective—to collect wedges in the wedge holder by correctly answering questions—go deeper by asking follow-up questions to the game card questions. For example, a basic anatomy and physiology question is to point to the clavicle and ask what part of the body is being identified. After answering correctly, ask the players, “How would you treat an unstable clavicle?”

Use questions to discuss general treatment principles. A question about calculating the total body surface area of a burn to an infant is a great entry point for talking about the treatments for a burn to the face, chest and abdomen. Discuss different airway management options based on the group’s scope of practice and the tools available to them.

To quicken game pace, award a wedge for any correct answer while continuing to ask follow-up questions, such as:

  • Describe the assessment or treatment related to the problem or concept in the question based on local protocols.
  • Define a term or terms asked in the question.
  • Specify the medication dose and administration route used to treat an illness referenced in the question.

If a team is correctly answering basic EMT (green cards) questions, ask progressively difficult questions with blue cards (advanced EMT) and then red cards (paramedic). Nothing is set in stone. As the educator, if you think the question can be phrased better or asked in a different way, revise the question to your program objectives and members’ training needs.

Use the question cards to play other types of games. Divide your group into two or three teams and play a jeopardy style game with the six question categories—trauma; illness; cardiology; anatomy and physiology; toxicology and environmental emergencies; and special patients. Award one point for basic EMT questions, four points for advanced EMT questions, and 10 points for paramedic questions. As the trainer reads the questions, the players can buzz, beep or slap in. The first person to buzz gets to answer. If they are incorrect their team loses points and the other players have an opportunity to buzz in. If they are correct they get the points and to pick the next category and question level.

Adapt the game to take advantage of the bank of questions. Other ways to use the Trivial Pursuit® Emergency Medical Services Edition question cards include:

  • Ask questions at the start of class, after a break or even as a break from a lecture to energize and focus a group.
  • Ask questions to attendees in your next conference presentation. Offer a simple prize, like a pen or piece of candy, for the first person to shout out the correct answer.
  • Use the cards as a study aid for common EMS terms and concepts.
  • Place a few cards in the middle of each table at a group meeting or awards banquet as an informal ice breaker. There is a good chance someone will pick up the cards and start asking questions.

Make more cards by tasking students to write follow-up questions based on the questions in the game. For example, a question asks, “Which is not a form of distributive shock: anaphylactic, cardiogenic, septic or neurogenic?” Several questions could be written about the assessment and treatment of each of these problems.

Pause from the questions—cognitive domain learning—for a psychomotor learning experience. Assign each team to complete a physical challenge, such as performing a sequence of chest compressions and AED use, immobilizing a team member on a backboard, applying a traction splint, acquiring a 12-lead, or collecting a complete a set of vital signs on an opponent.

Games are a nice break from routine training activities and a little friendly competition between or among squads can improve team cohesiveness. Games can also check knowledge retention and identify topics to reinforce in upcoming lectures, case reviews or hands-on practice. Purchase Trivial Pursuit® Emergency Medical Services Edition from

Greg Friese, MS, NREMT-P, is president of Emergency Preparedness Systems LLC, and a leading advocate for the use of social media by EMS agencies and training organizations. He is a regular conference presenter, the co-host of the EMSEduCast, the founder of the blog, marathon runner, and participant in many online EMS communities.