Get the right EMS bags

Different EMS bag styles excel in different scenarios; know what you need from your next medic bag

Do you ever look at a piece of clothing's label and see, "one size fits all" and think, really? We all know that there's no such thing as one size fits all for most clothing and the same can be said for EMS gear bags. 

Think of all the scenarios where firefighters can expect to engage in patient care — either for civilians or for fellow firefighters. These can be anything from ambulance runs to caring for someone at a fire or vehicle-crash scene to remote wilderness locations, to supporting law enforcement.

Fortunately, the manufacturers of EMS gear bags also don't believe that one size fits all and they've designed a full range of bags to meet the unique EMS-gear-carrying requirements of firefighters. You can find the best fit for your EMS gear bags needs by considering the following:

  • What is the likely tactical function that the bag's content will need to support (initial response, support tactical law enforcement operations, remote search and rescue, etc.)?
  • What level of patient care do you expect your people to provide?
  • How long will personnel typically be carrying or wearing the EMS bag?
  • Will there be a need to carry supplies in addition to medical gear such as water, sunscreen, energy bars or spare clothing?

Medical response bags
Storage compartment space on most fire apparatus is a precious commodity and medium-sized EMS gear bags provide plenty of room for basic life support equipment for managing airways, burns and skin traumas in addition to standard supplies. 

Typical models have adjustable interior compartments to organize supplies and outside compartments to store bulkier items. These bags average 2,200 to 2,500 cubic inches of storage space.

Some examples in this sector include:

  • L.A. Rescue First Call-In bag
  • DynaMed Maxi-Medic bag with waterproof L.A. Rescue First Responder Attack Pack

First responder bags
These bags tend to be small and more lightweight than their medium-sized cousins. Their smaller size and ease of carrying — several models have sling straps in addition to handles — makes them ideal for use on fire apparatus for deployment in non-patient care scenarios like wildland firefighting operations or event standbys. Many models can easily convert the bag from a handheld bag to an ergonomic backpack.

Interior and exterior pockets and plenty of elastic loops make these bags easy to organize. Some are designed to open flat for easy access to supplies. These models range from 900 to 1,200 cubic inches in carrying capacity.

Some examples include:

  • DynaMed First Responder bag
  • Ironduck First-In EMS bag

Fanny-pack response bags
Fanny packs make an ideal vehicle for carrying smaller quantities of basic EMS supplies — airways, pocket mask, and trauma dressings and bandaging materials — in non-patient care situations. With carrying capacities of around 200 cubic inches, they are small and light enough to be worn for longer periods of time, but large enough to keep many of your important medical supplies within reach.

Some examples include:

  • Galls EMS fanny pack
  • L.A. Rescue EMSide Mate
  • L.A. Rescue Lumbar fanny pack
  • Blackhawk Initial Response fanny pack

Tactical EMS bags
These bags are specially designed to support EMS tactical medics during law enforcement operations like hostage standbys. Like their non-tactical cousins, these bags come loaded with zippered pockets and storage compartments. In addition, tactical EMS bags come in sling and backpack configurations to facilitate easy of carrying over distances and in high-risk situations.

Many models also come equipped with water reservoirs with 1- to 3-liter carrying capacities, great for situations that take personnel away from their vehicles and other support facilities. 

Some examples include:

  • Maxpedition Jumbo K.I.S.S. bag
  • 5.11 Tactical Push R Pack,
  • L.A. Rescue Tactical Hydro Harness Combo

EMS backpack
When your job may involve rappelling from a helicopter, entering the wilderness on foot, or embarking on a long-term mission, then a backpack EMS gear bag may be for you. Many models feature contoured padded backpack straps, compression straps and belt, and a rugged ballistic nylon bottom.

Front horizontal straps provide a snug fit so you can use both your arms for other things. Several backpack-style bags also include hydrocell capabilities with capacities of 1- to 3-liters.

Some examples include:

  • L.A. Rescue Day Pack
  • L.A. Rescue Tactical Insertion backpack
  • Blackhawk Initial Response backpack

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