By Alan M. Petrillo
The personal protective equipment (PPE) needs of emergency medical service (EMS) responders differ from those of structural firefighters, with less emphasis on protection from heat and more on protection from bloodborne pathogens, bodily fluids, and other substances.
As a result, PPE manufacturers are making gear tailored for those specific needs as well as turnouts compliant with multiple National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.
Alysha Gray, product manager of fire PPE for Lion, says that Lion introduced its MedPro™ emergency medical call gear last year and that it is compliant with NFPA 1999, Standard on Protective Clothing and Ensembles for Emergency Medical Operations. Gray says MedPro’s outer shell is constructed of Westex® DH fire-resistant, breathable fabric with a Hydropel Premier finish “that gives both comfortable and durable protection against flash fires.” MedPro gear has a durable CROSSTECH® EMS moisture barrier that protects against blood, body fluid, and water while still remaining breathable, she says.
Gray points out that MedPro gear, available in both navy and high-visibility yellow colors, has PCA-reinforced elbows, knees, and cuffs; has Lite-N-Dri™ knee cushioning; functional pockets for easy tool access and versatility; and “superior mobility because of a banded crotch, underarm bellows, and bi-swing back,” she adds.
Karen Lehtonen, vice president of innovation and product management for Lion, notes that Lion’s TR51™ technical rescue and recovery ensemble is compliant with NFPA 1999 and NFPA 1951, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents. “Our technical rescue PPE is a multipurpose garment that is an option for EMS use,” Lehtonen says. “The Nomex® outer shell is tough and durable for extended wear life; the 3M Scotchlite™ reflective material makes sure you’re seen in low-light and daylight conditions; and the CROSSTECH S/R removable liner provides liquid penetration resistance to water, blood, and bodily fluids.”
Rob Freese, senior vice president of marketing for Globe Manufacturing Co., says Globe’s EMSRESCUE™ gear is all-weather, waterproof, breathable, lightweight, windproof, and comfortable. “The gear is compliant with NFPA 1999 and provides protection against blood, body fluid, and common chemicals with its CROSSTECH lining,” Freese points out. “It’s available in the firefighter’s choice of a flame-resistant outer shell or a high-visibility shell meeting ANSI 107 (Class 3).” EMSRESCUE gear features a zip-up collar, drop shoulder design, elasticized back hem for a closer fit, double storm front fly, and optional fleece liner.
Globe also makes TECHRESCUE™ gear that is available in a choice of flame-resistant shells with a CROSSTECH S/R lining. “It easily handles everyday challenges,” Freese notes, “weather, blood, and body fluids; common chemicals; and flash fires. And, it is dual compliant with NFPA 1951 and NFPA 1999 for maximum operational flexibility.” The gear has a drop shoulder design, zip-up collar, double storm fly front, double stitched seams, and optional Nomex fleece liner.
Todd Herring, director of marketing for Fire-Dex, says the company makes Para-Dex EMS gear built specifically for EMS professionals that meets NFPA 1999. The made-to-order gear uses a choice of fabric shells and a sewn-in CROSSTECH EMS fabric that Herring says “provides great breathability and heat stress relief while maintaining liquid penetration resistance from blood, body fluids, and water. The EMS pants feature an easy-on elastic waist, he notes, two bellows pockets, and 15-inch outer zippers, while the jacket comes in 29-inch and 33-inch lengths with an inner zipper/outer hook-and-loop closure, semi-bellows hand warmer pockets, a radio pocket and patch pocket on the chest, and 3M Scotchlite reflective material in a choice of two configurations.
Herring points out that Fire-Dex also makes urban search and rescue gear that meets NFPA 1999 and 1951. “It features a sewn-in CROSSTECH S/R fabric liner, inner zipper/outer hook-and-loop closure on the jacket, easy-on elastic waist on the pants with two full-bellows pockets, reinforced cuffs, and zippered legs with gussets.
Honeywell First Responder Products makes MED-TECH EMS gear, a two-layer coat and pant that is compliant with NFPA 1999. The gear uses an eight-ounce polyester twill fabric outer shell with a durable, water-repellent finish and a two-layer laminate moisture barrier that has a Polytetrafluoroethylene bicomponent film with a woven polyester substrate. Options on the coat and pant include bellows or semi-bellows pockets, a fleece liner, hand warmer pockets, radio pockets, elastic waistband, and Ara-shield® or shell material knee reinforcements.
Cory Nykoluk, vice president of merchandise at First Tactical, says his company makes the EMS Tactix High-Vis parka in three layers: a floating lining and two layers of 100 percent nylon, fully seam-sealed, waterproof, breathable, bloodborne-pathogen-resistant fabrics. The parka has a triple-adjustment hood and top entry pockets above the hand pockets and comes in men and women’s versions. Nykoluk notes the soft-shell inner liner can be zipped out and worn separately.
Utility and Station Wear
Lion makes VersaPro gear that is dual compliant to NFPA 1951 and NFPA 1977, Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting, according to Lehtonen. “It meets the wide variety of situations encountered by firefighters on a daily basis,” she says, “providing more protection than a station uniform but being less cumbersome than structural turnouts for nonstructural calls.” VersaPro is made from a Sigma® fabric that’s soft yet strong and durable, Lehtonen points out, and is self-reinforced in high-wear areas. The gear features a bi-swing back, banded crotch, Lite-N-Dri in the knees, zippered legs, ventilated triple trim, and radio and cargo pockets.
In addition, Lion makes pants that meet station work uniform requirements as well as the 1977 and 1951 standards. “These are heavy-duty pants that serve a lot of purposes, with many functional pockets that have been well used by wildland urban interface fire departments,” Lehtonen says. “We also make outerwear as well in pullover and jacket style, plus EMS station wear pants that are like the EMS duty pants but without the moisture barrier.”
Honeywell makes its EMS Jumpsuit with a breathable fire-resistant outer shell of Nomex IIIA or FR88/12 cotton/nylon twill, extra bands of trim on the sleeve cuffs and the back, leather and padded knee reinforcements, fire-resistant cotton-lined sleeves, and two choices of 3M Scotchlite trim.
First Tactical makes a Softshell Job Shirt in a half-zip model for both men and women, Nykoluk says. The flexible four-way stretch outer shell is water- and wind-resistant and has mic loops integrated into the front design, a running underarm gusset, and articulated elbow to allow maximum movement on the job.
In addition, First Tactical offers the Tactix Series cotton T-shirt in short- and long-sleeve versions for both men and women. Nykoluk points out that the shirt has a shoulder yoke and running side gussets with offset seams for a smoother fit and increased flexibility. “The Tactix T-shirt has a natural, tapered fit cut large enough to go over a base layer,” he says, “while running gusset side panels provide a smooth, flattering tuck in.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.