The quality of care you can provide patients is inseparable from the quality of the devices you have available. After all, it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are about choking if you can’t clear a patient’s airway.


Although there are many elements of emergencies that you cannot change, you should ensure you have the right medical devices to deal with a wide range of emergencies to reduce the risk of care-delayed deaths. Here are the medical devices every EMT should have.


Patient Transport Tools 

In a true emergency, a patient is going to have difficulty getting into the ambulance, especially if they have suffered a head injury or loss of consciousness. The right transport devices are critical to your ability to care for patients, particularly when they live in high-rise buildings and other difficult-to-access locations. Ensure you have a quality stretcher and lifts for heavy or disabled patients. All of your tools should be rated for 300 pounds or more so that you can accommodate even very large patients.


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Environmental Tools 

When you treat emergencies, you’re not just managing the emergencies themselves, but the scenarios in which they occur. Consider how a swamp full of mosquitoes could make it virtually impossible to provide quality patient care. The right tools will depend on where you live, but some general ideas include:


  • A wide range of personal protective equipment 
  • A basic first-aid kit
  • A multi-tool 
  • A heat blanket
  • Sunscreen 
  • Bug spray 
  • Flares 
  • Scissors
  • Insect netting 
  • Cones to divert traffic 
  • Rechargeable batteries 
  • A lighter or other fire starter 
  • Phone chargers for various phones

Cardiovascular Management Devices 

Chest pain and heart disease account for 11% of 911 calls and are among the most dangerous emergencies EMTs encounter. You must have the right devices available for managing these emergencies, including:


  • A stethoscope
  • A reliable pulse oximeter
  • An external defibrillator
  • A chest compressor
  • A blood pressure cuff
  • A cardiac monitoring device, such as a portable EKG

Respiratory Care Tools

Breathing difficulties account for 7% of 911 calls. Intoxication and poisoning account for 8%. These conditions are an inevitable part of your day to day, and being prepared is critical. In addition to respiratory medications – such as an emergency rescue inhaler and epinephrine – be sure to pack these devices:


  • Emergency ventilators
  • Resuscitation masks 
  • Portable oxygen and an oxygen mask
  • Airway management equipment, such as a laryngoscope, endotracheal tubes, and suction pumps

NEW: Free Guide and Checklist for Paramedics: Determing the Contents of Your  First-In Bag


Trauma Kit Supplies

Your trauma kit is key to providing high-quality patient care, especially if you routinely treat trauma survivors. In addition to the above items, be sure to include trauma-focused supplies such as:


  • Bandages 
  • Tourniquets 
  • Chest injury seals
  • Hemostatic dressings 
  • Disinfecting tools 
  • Lifts and wheelchairs 


The most important part of your trauma kit is not a tangible item – ongoing trauma training. Trauma scenarios can be highly stressful, requiring a prompt response and a steady hand. Your organization must consistently train for a variety of scenarios, including in non-ideal circumstances such as large crowds or hot environments.


Portable Emergency Suction 

Portable emergency suction is one of the most valuable medical devices in your ambulance. It allows you to clear and protect the airway, rescue choking and aspirating patients, and tend to patients without moving them.


Quality devices can hold a charge, work with the equipment you already have, and maintain consistent suction. The right machine should also be lightweight enough that you can easily use it for bedside treatment, rather than delaying treatment as you attempt to move the patient.


For help finding the ideal emergency suction device for your organization, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device.


Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in July, 2021. It has been re-published with additional up to date content.