When the call comes in and you rush to the scene of an accident or emergency, you never know exactly what you’ll encounter when you get there. That’s why, as a paramedic, you have to be ready for anything that comes your way. Your typical day could include anything from a simple sprain to a serious car accident or a mass shooting, so it’s vital to your patients that your EMS tool kit has the necessary supplies and equipment you need to get the job done, no matter how big or small.
The question then arises, what do you need to carry, and how much is too much or not enough? Can you really have too much or be over prepared? Sure you can. If you weigh down your bag with supplies you’re unlikely to ever need or use, you’re only making it more burdensome to carry, as well as potentially making it more difficult to find and retrieve the right tool for the job when you absolutely must have it.
Therefore, you’ll find multiple schools of thought on what to carry. Some paramedics carry more than is needed, while others prefer a minimalist approach, stocking only the bare essentials. As with many aspects in life, often the middle ground is the place to be.
Among EMTs, a general consensus is to be equipped with the supplies and equipment required to stabilize a critically injured patient in a tactical environment. Think worst-case scenario, the mass shooting we mentioned earlier. It goes back to that old saying, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
As a paramedic, you know the situations and circumstances you face on a day-to-day basis, from false alarms to life-and-death emergencies. Those situations include taking vitals, performing CPR, establishing an airway, treating burns and wounds, as well as muscle, bone and ligament injuries.
When responding to an emergency, the first order of business is to make sure you’re safe and protected, then assess the situation and the patient, and administer aid as needed. That’s what you should think about when deciding what makes it in to your EMS tool kit.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
In this case, we’re not referring to what you typically think of when you think PPE, which is ballistic protection for tactical situations, characteristic of military and law enforcement.
What we’re talking about is the equipment you need to protect yourself from chemicals, hazardous liquids, and bodily fluids – namely, medical gloves and eye protection.
Patient Assessment Tools
Your EMS tool kit should include the required equipment for assessing the condition and vital functions of your patient.
The most critical call you’ll take involves traumatic injury to a patient, which can often be life threatening, especially if not treated immediately and efficiently. In these situations, the first order of business is to stop any bleeding and seal off any penetrating trauma.
For these situations, your EMS tool kit should include:
o It’s critical to stock only trusted, U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved tourniquets, as these are a crucial tool in potentially saving a life from rapid blood loss.
This category is important, but there’s also quite a variety of equipment you could include. Although you won’t want to include it all, possibilities include a collapsible bag valve mask, chest decompression supplies, oral and nasal airways, a manual suction device, and even endotracheal intubation devices.
Basic First Aid Supplies
As our aforementioned saying goes, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Close to the best is minor trauma like simple cuts, scrapes, scratches and even blisters. Yes, a majority of your calls on any given day might just need a Band-Aid, and that would be a good thing.
Make sure your EMS tool kit is well stocked with all of the simple essentials, like adhesive bandages, wound-cleaning supplies, tape, tweezers, scissors, and topical antibiotic ointments.
As an EMT, administering prescription medications that are issued by a doctor is not allowed. In most emergency situations, you won’t’ know the patient’s medical background and history, and to what medications they’re allergic.
However, you do want to stock simple but often effective medications like Aspirin, oral glucose, and Epinephrine injector pens.
Other Items to Keep in Mind
There are many tools and supplies you can potentially stock in your EMS tool kit, so you need to think about your day-to-day situations on the job and decide what items are must-haves and what items you can make do without. We’ve mentioned a number of critical tools here, but other possibilities include:
These are just some of the possibilities for your EMS took kit. What you decide to include will depend on your particular situation and the challenges and emergencies you face on a daily basis.
Here at CHIEF, we offer and recommend the Fieldtex Red Trauma Kit, which comes fully loaded with the basic medical supplies you need in emergency situations. Not only that, but the bag itself is well constructed out of heavy-duty 1000D nylon, and features a variety of both inside and outside pockets and compartments so you have easy access to the most critical tools you’ll need in any given situation.
Among the over 30 unique supplies included in the kit, you’ll find:
- And much more