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EMS Supplies: 10 Must-Haves for Emergency Medical Professionals

EMS staff assisting a female patient
E

mergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals respond to medical emergencies outside of hospitals. Because they’re working out of an ambulance rather than a facility, they have limited resources and need to carry a lot of gear so they’re prepared for almost any situation. If you’re wondering what EMS supplies you need, here are the top 10 items that should definitely be in your bag.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

EMS professionals need to be prepared for anything, and that includes all manner of bodily fluids. At a minimum, you will want to keep disposable gloves, a mask and eyeglasses and/or sunglasses in your bag to keep you safe as you help stabilize patients.

Stethoscope

The stethoscope is included on basically every list of must-have medical supplies, including that for paramedics, because it’s practically impossible to diagnose a patient without it. Stethoscopes allows medical professionals to listen to the heart, lungs, bowels and many other body parts for signs of irregularity. You shouldn’t leave home without this in your bag and wearing one around your neck will immediately signal to everyone else on the scene that you’re a medical professional.

Gloves, mask and safety glasses against a white background
Blood pressure monitor against a white background

Blood Pressure Monitor

This device, sometimes called a blood pressure cuff or a sphygmomanometer, helps you measure a patient’s blood pressure. After the stethoscope, it’s probably the most-used item on this list, so you’ll definitely want to bring one with you on every call.

Tourniquets

Paramedics have more need of a tourniquet than almost any other medical professional due to the many emergency calls they make. A tourniquet is a tight bandage or cord used to stop the flow of blood through a vein or artery. The device is used when a severe injury is causing a lot of blood loss as well as during blood draws.

Dressings and Tape

Many EMS calls involve wound care, so you’ll want to keep a full selection of bandages on hand, including trauma dressings, hemostatic dressings, gauze, compression bandages and tape. You’ll also want to carry a pair of nursing scissors (which are different from trauma shears, see below) to cut these materials.

Penlight

You’ll want to keep a penlight tucked into your bag or clipped onto your pocket. Shaped like (you guessed it) a pen, this precision flashlight is used to assess pupil response, examine the mouth and throat and check wound areas, all very important when you’re trying to stabilize a patient.

Nurse with wound dressing materials
Female medical professional checking vitals of an elderly woman in a park

Flashlight

In addition to your penlight, you’ll also want a flashlight, whether you work the day shift or night shift. You never know when might have to light the way in a dark place. If you have a traditional battery-powered flashlight, be sure to keep extra batteries in your bag as well. If you use a rechargeable one, make sure that you keep it fully charged and also have your charger on hand during calls.

Watch

Every medical professional, including paramedics, needs to wear a durable, water-resistant watch. Whether it’s plastic or glass, metal or leather, digital or analog, cheap or expensive, there’s a watch out there for every taste and budget—and you should have one on your wrist at all times.

Trauma Shears

Not to be confused with nursing scissors, trauma shears are designed to cut through clothes, denim, seatbelts and even thin metal to allow EMS professionals full access to a patient. The shears are only designed for this purpose and should not be used in surgical procedures. The blade is usually bent at a 150-degree angle to give paramedics more control of the shears and the wide, blunt tip is meant to minimize the risk of accidentally nicking a patient, making trauma shears safer to use than a knife.

Personal Care Kit (PCK)

In addition to your medical supplies, you’ll also want to carry some personal supplies in your ambulance that will keep you functioning at the highest level. This kit may include sunscreen, insect repellent, contact lens supplies and personal medications or prescriptions. You may also want to bring a backup uniform and change of clothes in case the outfit you are wearing gets soiled.

EMS professionals save lives every day, and they need the right EMS supplies on hand so they can do their jobs safely and effectively. If you’re a paramedic, make sure you have these 10 items in your bag so you’re prepared for whatever might happen on a call.

Hand with blue latex gloves holding trauma sheers against a white background

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