A victim is someone who needs emergency assistance, but who either has not received aid, or who is receiving aid but is not yet in a stable, secure environment. A diver in the water who has a problem, for example, is a victim even while being assisted.

A patient is someone in the hands of emergency care in a stable, secure environment, A diver with a problem who has been assisted out of the water and is receiving emergency care from a rescue diver, for example would be considered a patient.