Wear your EMT Jacket!
One of your most important pieces of equipment that you can use is your
The jacket preforms several functions. One of the most important functions is to protect you from the elements. There is just nothing worse than to be on a MVA (motor vehicle accident) in a cold, pouring rain and be soaked to the skin. An EMT Jacket should also protect you from harm. This means it should have a protective barrier against blood-borne pathogens and have sufficient reflective stripes to warn motorists. Of course, you jacket should have enough pockets to carry stuff without being too bulky and being too over loaded.
You can find an EMT Jacket in many styles. The styles range from a three season jacket to firefighting protective gear. The jacket you wear will depend on where you live and the season when you work. Each jacket should have some basic features.
Each jacket you wear should protect you from the elements. What you wear in New England will be different from what you wear in San Diego. I speak mostly from my experience in the North East part of the United States.
The jacket that I prefer for the late fall, winter and early spring is a layered jacket with a hood. The inner layer is removable and is made of a synthetic material which traps heat. The jacket, with its inner layer in use, has kept me warm down to temperature as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 C). Take out the inner layer (which zips out) and I can wear it comfortably in temperatures as warm as 50 F (10 C). These types of jackets have a rain hood and storm flaps that cover the zipper. I have worn this jacket off duty at Giants football games (ok I'm a whacker) but that jacket kept me warm. These jackets are also waterproof
During cool weather in early fall and late spring I wear a three season jacket. This jacket is water resistant and lined with a thin liner. During the summer I wear a vest that is just to carry my junk with me.
Protection - Bloodborne Pathogen
Your jacket should have a vapor-liquid barrier just inside the outer layer. This layer is essentially a one-way barrier. It lets water vapor out but not water liquid in. This prevents infected material from seeping into the fabric. Blood splashes are washed off. These jackets are not usually armored against a needle stick or sharp penetration. Good workplace practices are still required even with bloodborne protection.
Protection - Reflective and Identification
Your outer protective gear should have reflective material as part of the material. Some jackets have strips along the wrists and waist, others just have reflective letters identifying your service. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) document number 1500 has some standards on personal protective gear.
Click here for more information on NFPA 1500 (warning, launches a new window).
Identification on your jacket is becoming more and more important. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001 it is becoming essential for you to be identified as an EMT. This identification should be visible at night from a distance. Here in the greater New York City area we are somewhat sensitive to knowing who is supposed to be on scene. We do have a great number of "Buffs" who show up a any major incident. Make sure your jacket has your name on it, your agency name and perhaps your qualification - EMT, Paramedic, etc.
Click here to see a recommended type of jacket
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