*A Fresh Look at EMT Shears*
By: gvi
28 May 2005

Recently a medic for the American unit that trains the new Iraqi Army visited me where I work, and we had a terrific conversation. Heís quite a fellow to learn from; the kind of medic you donít meet every day. Heís been all over the world, in several combat environments, and even worked during Desert Storm at Walter Reed. Like I said, quite a guy, and someone worth paying attention to.

One of the things we talked about was training and equipping like we fight. He mentioned such things as taking his medics at Walter Reed out to the parking lot to train on fluid replacement therapy. Basically he had them sticking IVís in the back seat of a Humvee. They asked why inside the dirty Humvee, rather than in the ER or elsewhere indoors. He replied, "If you can get a good stick while sitting in a Humvee, traveling 60mph on a bumpy dirt road, and youíre sticking your buddy, who youíre afraid is going to die, well, you can stick just about anywhere." Other real-world (not necessarily SHTF world) tidbits:

There was one last thing he mentioned that Iíd never heard, but it turned out he was completely right about. EMT shears wear out quickly. He told me the story about an NBC training scenario where the "patients" all had old, nasty BDUs on. The uniforms were going to be thrown away anyway, so why not use them on realistic training where you can cut the stuff and expose the wound?

He found out that after about four or five patients, the studentsí shears started wearing out. Iíd never heard of this; Iíd always heard that EMT shears would cut through just about anything (Iíve tried the cutting-through-the-penny trick, and itíll work if you have stronger hands than Iíve got). Iíd never heard of them being actually frail. But he told me so, and to back it up he told me that he got a whole bag of them, and put one on the body armor of each of his team members. "Why do we gotta carry these? Arenít you the medic?" they asked him. He told them that these were for when he worked on Ďem, just like their field dressings.

Being a skeptic, I decided to try it out. I have two sets of shears, so it was no loss, really. You know what? Heís right. The shears that the Army issues last about four or five good cuts (about a foot and a half per cut) before they start getting harder and harder to use. And this is through old BDU and t-shirt fabric. Imagine how long theyíd last if you had to cut through, say, heavy parkas, seat belt webbing or pistol belts.

I thought Iíd report his suggestion and my own findings to you, as food for thought on equipping your own teams. Perhaps rather than have a team memberís first-aid kit be just the simple field dressing in a pouch, we may wish to expand it so far as a small pouch that has room for extra stuff, such as a set of shears, a pair of gloves and some other tiny extras. Maybe no more than an M-16 pouchís worth. As with everything, we need to balance the need for the extra stuff against the team memberís overall load. Every ounce the member carries must be justified. And team members must be instructed to leave the shears alone, so theyíll be ready when they need them most ("NO CUTTING 550-CORD!").

If you can afford quality shears (Titanium), Get them, they last MUCH longer

Best regards,

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