You would think that this would be an easy question to answer with a basic industry standard list. However, EMT’s and Paramedics have personal preferences that their particular job experience has necessarily biased them towards, and you have to also consider that these first responder professionals have their equipment bags that will hold many of the essential medical supplies they may need. Consequently, any list of essential tools to be carried will undoubtedly have common items, while other tools may or may not be considered as “essential to carry on person” from one EMS professional to another. Nonetheless, considering that there is no time to waste in an emergency situation, quick and easy access to those items needed immediately when working on the patient must be able to be instinctively retrieved from the clothing the EMS personnel is wearing.
So, what are the tools that should be carried in the multi-pocketed EMS cargo pants? The essential EMS tools that should be carried in EMS cargo pants are:
- Gloves and spares. These items may be in a glove pouch
- Pens & sharpies. At least two of each
- Pen light
- Small but effective flashlight
- Cellphone and charger
- Personal items – wallet, keys (often in the hip pocket)
- Rescue hooks
- Trauma shears
- Note pad or 3x5 cards
- Rescue Knife or folding multi-tool
- Window punch (glass breaker pen)
- Belt cutter
As previously mentioned, this list may or may not be completely common among all EMS personnel depending on their unique circumstances and preferences. It may include items that some personnel prefer to carry in their EMS shirt or EMS bag. And, it certainly may be considered as missing key items that they feel should be included. So, what are some additional items that could also be carried in EMS pants, or possibly EMS shirt, or even the professional’s belt or EMS bag, for quick access.
- CPR face shield
- Gauze pads & bandages (sometimes for the Paramedic or EMT)
- Medical tape
- Vomit bag
- Handwipes and sanitizer
- Leather gloves
- When you need to see in the dark and have your hands free to work with
If you know several EMS professionals and were to talk to them about what they specifically carry in their EMS pants or EMS shirt, you would undoubtedly find some common essential tools they all carry in their EMS pants. And undoubtedly you would also learn of different tools that some find essential to have on their person when working with a patient, while others prefer those items be kept in their EMS bag. Additionally, you might learn that some EMS professionals use the same tool for different purposes. For example, some practitioners may use a knife only for removing the cap of saline bottles. Some don’t carry a knife or belt cutter because they will use the shears when something needs to be cut. These professionals will find a way to use the tools available to their advantage in getting the job done. I even know EMT’s that make sure their side pockets contain granola bars to fuel their on-the-go workstyle.
What makes EMS pants unique?
In order to carry this large number of essential tools for ready access, EMS pants must have multiple pockets and they must be properly positioned on the pants with access points that allow the Paramedic or EMT to instinctively and conveniently reach and secure them.
Good quality EMS pants must be made durable as they will be used frequently and put through vigorous and often unpredictable work settings. Some pants are constructed with ripstop materials to help prevent the transition of a small tear to a larger one. The pants may include a gusseted crotch and reinforced knees that help with both mobility and durability. Most pants are water resistant.
EMS pants are made of superior blend of polyester and cotton for added comfort, mobility and flexibility in movement, and extra breathability. Some pants may be treated with Teon fabric protector to help keep them clean and professional looking.
Because the EMS environment is one where blood borne pathogens can be present, EMS pants should be blood born pathogen resistant.
All of these requirements for a good pair of EMS pants means that they should be comfortable to wear, functional in housing of essential emergency tools and allowing for the mobility and flexibility in movement required for the required positions of EMS work, and durable to withstand the environmental elements and rigors of the Paramedic and EMT.