EMT Scissors - A cut above

EMT Shears

EMT Scissors - also known as a trauma shears - what can we say about it? They are humble devices. We overlook this item most of the time but when we need it - WE NEED It.

Most shears come in two types:

  • Trauma Shears
  • Bandage scissors


EMT Scissors - Shears

Most EMTs riding today think of trauma shears when thinking of Scissors. They usually have the following characteristics:

  • Plastic handle
  • Stainless steel blades
  • Lower serated blade
  • Rounded clothing guard

Most shears are between 5 and 7 inches in length. The plastic handle should provide a good grip even when wearing gloves and when wet. However, there is a trend to make the handle with a softer plastic. I find that this softer plastic does not wear well and has a tendency to stick to nitrile gloves.

The stainless steel blades are a must. In fact I don't know of a single manufacturer using aluminum. The stainless steel allows you to autoclave the scissor to disinfect it. Also, you can use bleach but bleach will pit and corrode the blades.

The serrated edge on the lower blade gives you more cutting power. You may remember those TV commercials from the late 70's and 80's where actor Dick van Pattan hawks these shears and cuts a penny in half. I will be honest, I have cut a few in half while waiting for calls. It's harder to do now that the pennies are copper clad steel disks.

The serrated edge allows you to cut clothing quickly as well as seat belts. I am also a volunteer firefighter and I carry shears in my turn-out gear. I use it to cut belts, wires, plastic and other junk I find in wrecks.

The rounded clothing guard is actually a small piece of flattened steel on the lower blade. The rounded point allows the blade to slip between clothing and the patients skin. This lowers the risk of further injuring the patient.

I also carry a custom made liner-lock knife. The blade was made by Bob Terzuola of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The blade is light and fits easily in my pocket. I use it to cut through heavy items. Spyderco also makes a great series of rescue knives for use when the scissors don't cut it (sorry I couldn't resist the pun). Here are some links (warning! opens a new window). Click here for some pictures of Bob Terzuola's knives. Click here for information on Spyderco Knives.


Bandage Scissor

EMT Scissors - Bandage

Bandage scissors are much smaller than the trauma shears. They are also made from stainless steel and have a rounded edge to protect the patient. In the pre-hospital setting the only use I find for bandage scissors is to cut tape or to remove a bandage for some reason.


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