What’s On Your Belt?

Over the years I have seen a variety of EMTs who carry a variety of equipment on their person.  I have seen everything from window punches to elaborate holsters with a round of soft goods to virtually nothing at all.  It made me think about my own personal compliment of supplies that I feel are vital to my job that I carry on my person every day.

The amount of stuff that I carry on my full-time job in the city varies a bit from my old part-time job when I worked at an amusement park, and when creating your own supply list I suggest you keep that in mind as well.  Tailor it not only to what you need to have right by your side but also what will be close.

1.  Radio – I always have a means to talk to someone not only via phone, which in a pinch will take too long, but also by radio.  Also, how is anyone supposed to get a hold of me if they cannot get me on the air?

2.  Scissors – The trauma shears I carry at work (in my pocket, not in my belt) have a set of Rip Shears attached to them as well.  This way, I can get through anything I might have to on a scene with little difficulty.

3.  Two spare pairs of gloves – Usually, my first pair of gloves sits in one of my front pockets until I decide to put them on.  My second pair is in one of the leg pockets of my uniform pants, usually on the left side.  Why the left side?  Because that is where I have always put them.  I try to carry the same stuff every day in the same place.  It has become a routine of sorts for me.

4.  Handy wipes – In my other leg pocket, I usually carry eight or ten of our industrial strength individually packaged handy wipes.  They are not just for my crew and I but also for the police or fire department should they need them.  These things are really popular with our first responders, and I swear along with coffee, they could be their own form of currency in the field.

5.  Note cards – I don’t use any of those fancy premade EMS information sheets.  I have always relied on good old blank note cards to help me keep track of what is going on.  They do the trick, as long as I do not misplace them.  If I run out, I usually grab a 4×4 or print myself out a short blank strip from my LP-12.

6.  2” Tape – I usually try to have a roll of 2” tape in my pocket.  I have always found that I never seemed to have tape when I needed to secure a patient’s headblocks or tape down a roll of kling I just wrapped a laceration with.  Having the tape readily available on my person made the difference.

7.  My iPhone – What about a protocol reference book?  How about a field guide?  It is all in my iPhone.  I usually only pull it out when I really need it because I do not want my patient to get the wrong idea, and I don’t want to get anything on my phone that I wouldn’t want there, but I keep it handy.  After losing a few field guides I found that buying an app was the next best thing, and it works great for me.

8.  Flashlight – Finally, on my night shifts I try to carry a flashlight.  My choice light is a Surefire 9P.  Some prefer LED’s, but I like a nice old fashioned incandescent lamp.  It does a good job lighting what I need to see and does not give off the color differences that I tend to notice with LED’s.  Also, Surefire makes a very simple light and it is easy to troubleshoot if something is going wrong with it.

On a side note, I work with a lot of people who carry knives, and I quite honestly do not get it.  Not only is that a great weapon of opportunity for a patient who wants to try and get to it, I have had trouble finding a use for one.  I carried a knife for about six months, and never encountered a job that I could not do more appropriately with a pair of trauma shears.  It rarely left my pocket, and since I have a strong desire to travel as light as possible it returned to my desk at home.

In addition to what I carry on my person, I have a bag that stays in my truck that always has a legal pad in it and a National Incident Management System (NIMS) field reference guide should I need it.  My job is not always about patient care, so having tools on hand that will help me transition to a leadership role are vital for me.

What about you?  What else do you like to carry?