police officers running across busy street

Saving people’s lives following disasters, accidents, or medical emergencies requires tremendous effort and skill. First responders use various tools and equipment to help them do their job efficiently. This article outlines 50 of the most important tools and equipment your first responder team should have.

What Is a First Responder?

A paramedic assisting the patient using defibrillator

A first responder is a firefighter, paramedic, law enforcement officer, emergency medical technician, or any other person who responds to medical, fire, hazardous material, and similar emergencies. First responders are often the first to arrive at emergency scenes. Their job is to act promptly and serve the community, which is why they’re also known as emergency response providers.

First Responder Tools and Equipment – Top 50 Items

Below are the 50 items first responders should have within reach, depending on the type of emergency.

1. Cellphone

police officer on cell phone watches other first responders

Communication is essential in first responder missions. Whether it’s a natural disaster, medical emergency, or crime scene, first responders need to communicate with their teammates, superiors, and victims.

Cell phones used by first responders should be durable and resistant to elements. Cellphones such as Zanam XT are resistant to dust, heat, impact, and water and work wonders for first responders. Use this contact form to speak to an Energy Electronics LLC representative and get a quote within 1 business day.

2. Radio Clip

Police officer hand holding body radio

Radio clips allow easy access to a radio for urgent calls. Most radio clips work with uniforms when attached to utility belts, dress belts, and outer vest carriers. Choose models with retention bands to keep the radio in place during one-handed use.

3. Thermal Sensors

Cat S60 using FLIR thermal camera

Thermal sensors or imagers help first responders locate hazards and casualties in smoke, fire, darkness, or fog conditions. These tools measure temperature changes and can also measure liquid, gas, and solid thermal properties for specific purposes.

Numerous thermal stimulation methods are used, including thermometers, infrared cameras, thermocouples, etc.

4. First Responder Bag

first responders carrying medical equipment

First responder bags make storing first aid and other small first responder equipment easy and accessible. A first responder bag should be made of heavy-duty material and be spacious enough to fit the rescuer’s basic fire responder tools.

The role of a first responder requires numerous tools to be ready for use at any time. Choosing specially-made responder bags with accessible storage pockets and specific tool space makes finding the perfect bag easier.

5. Heavy-Duty Gloves

firefighter with gloves holds extinguisher

Working in fire, smoke, or with hazardous materials requires skin and body protection. Gloves are essential for first responders to guard against injury and help undertake any given task.

6. Mask

two firefighters in complete uniforms with masks

Like heavy-duty gloves, masks help protect first responders when working with smoke or hazardous materials. Different types of masks are used for different situations.

7. Stabilization Equipment

Casualties with orthopedic injuries are put on a stabilizer before being transferred to a hospital. Stabilization equipment is necessary when an emergency involves people with injuries.

8. Situational Awareness Camera

police officer with body camera/ situation awareness camera

First responders need situational awareness cameras to view their surroundings and obtain crucial information about a location. These cameras add security and safety and make extreme rescue situations less risky.

9. Suction Device

A first responder needs basic airway management tools like suction devices, chest compression supplies, and endotracheal intubation equipment. Also known as aspirators, these medical devices help remove obstructions like blood, mucus, or saliva from the patient’s airways.

10. Patient Assessment Tools

an injured leg with a wrap of bandage

Tactical medical scenarios require access to basic patient assessment tools. First aid like gauze, bandages, disinfecting supplies, CO2 monitors, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, injury sealants, and similar tools are necessary.

11. Tablet

firefighters dressed for fire using rugged tablet

A tablet makes first responders’ jobs easier by offering a straightforward and easy-to-use interface to manage tasks. First responder tablets need to be compact, made from military-grade materials, and have element resistance features.

DT Research tablets are some of the most popular solutions on the market with break-resistant hardware. The 10.1-inch touch-screen and robust Pentium or Intel Core processor are slim and durable.

12. Insect Repellant

A first responder must have insect repellant. This tool protects the responder and the victims, especially those prone to allergies.

First responders working in areas with a high population of mosquitoes are at risk of West Nile virus and other diseases. Protecting their skin (even when wearing a uniform) is essential to ensure everyone’s safety.

13. Waterproof Notebook

woman police officer writes notes inside crime tape

Not all responders can afford tablets. Waterproof notebooks are a great alternative when it comes to recording patient information. Modern-day notebooks include useful sheets like Glasgow Coma Scale, Rapid Triage info for different patient scenes, and more.

14. Sunscreen

man spray sunscreen on face outdoors

Working in hot climates with the danger of sunburn is a risk both for the first responder and the patient. First responders should carry sunscreen in their bags and apply it to exposed body parts whenever necessary.

15. Patient Transport System

Patient transport systems are best stored with tactical trauma kits at the entry of a building. They allow portable access and help move the patient without causing further injury.

16. Laptop

police officer in car using rugged device

First responders need access to computer systems regardless of their location. Handling difficult situations is easier with a heavy-duty, rugged laptop resistant to dirt, moisture, and dust.

DT Research has a robust, rugged laptop offer from the LT series that’s perfect for fire responders working in all conditions, including darkness and fog.

17. Lifesaver Hammer

Lifesaver hammers come in a variety of forms and shapes. They can be used as seatbelt cutters, window-shattering tools, and in many other first responder situations. Some devices come with a built-in light to illuminate the rescue area.

18. Wedge-It

Wedge-it holds the interior and exterior door open to a 90-degree angle. The tool can be placed on the floor, top of the door, and over the hinge pin.

19. Window Punch

man holding window hammer against car window

Window punch is another forcible entry tool used for extraction from vehicles following an accident or other car emergencies. The tool applies pressure on the safety glass and causes the window to shatter.

20. Glovestraps

Glovestraps attach to the first responder’s belt loop, D-ring, mic loop, or tool belt for easy access. They fit the gloves when not in use and are often made from ballistic nylon webbing for a fire-resistant service.

21. Barcode Scanner

a black and blue handheld barcode scanning a vial

Barcode scanners are essential when using emergency aid tracking apps. Distributing services, supplies, and assets during emergencies and disasters is easier with a reliable barcode scanner.

Barcode scanners can fit most workflows and come in a range of configurations. Honeywell products have a rugged handheld design and help maximize healthcare and distribution centers workflow productivity.

22. Flashlight

Flashlight on table in darkened room

A flashlight is essential for first responders working in poor light conditions. Search rescues in the dark require bright flashlights with fully charged batteries. Emergency flashlights should have 3000 to 7000 lumens and cover at least 1,600 feet.

23. Fire Hooks

Fire hooks help access push panic bars from the outside through double doors in theatres, schools, stores, and other facilities. A fire hook can also open floors, ceilings, and moldings and remove fiberboards, plasterboards, and sheet metal.

24. Multi Tools

Multi-tools are versatile, highly functional, and easy-to-use equipment that shouldn’t be missing from any first responder’s bag.

25. Breaching Saw Kit

Breaching saw kits consist of multiple tools and attachments and make cutting through walls, metal, and other surfaces easier. The market offers numerous mini breaching saw kits that are easy to carry around.

26. Mobile Computer

a black and blue handheld barcode scanning a vial

Mobile computers are handy devices acting as tablets, barcode scanners, and communication devices. These gadgets are portable, easy to store, and lightweight.

A rugged solution like DT Research DT362GL with a 6-inch touchscreen makes data capturing easy. An intelligent card reader, hot-swappable battery, and element-resistant design make this mobile computer a valuable addition to any first responder team. EE experts can help you decide on the perfect model to fit the specific needs of your rescuers.

27. Fire Axe

Fire axes are an essential tool in the forcible entry tool category. Firefighters and other first responders use fire axes to smash doors and windows, chop holes in roofs for ventilation, and many other use cases. Fire axes need to be fire-proof and resistant to elements.

28. Seatbelt Cutter

man in car cuts seatbelt using emergency hammer cutters

Seatbelt cutters are lifesaving tools for people trapped in their cars following car accidents. First responders rely on this tool to rescue injured individuals from a vehicle safely and quickly.

29. Fire Hydrant Tools

fire hydrant with key on top, attached to hose

Any first responder who attends a fire emergency needs a fire hydrant tool at hand. These tools come in different forms and sizes to fit different scales of accident or hazard.

30. Hose Strap and Shoulder Pad

First responders use hose straps and shoulder pads to eliminate hose kinking in tight spaces. With these tools, the first responder uses minimal manpower, making their job much more manageable. The strap and pad come in different sizes to match the rest of the equipment.

31. Hose

fire fighter water hose wrapped up

Next to the fire hydrant, a hose is another essential tool when dealing with fire-related emergencies.

32. Fire Hooks

Fire hooks are among the most versatile firefighter tools. Overhauling and gaining access becomes so much easier when fire hooks are involved. These tools also help punch cut lines and relieve cuts through open floorboards and drywall.

33. Door Rams

man standing outdoors with battering ram at feet

Tactical teams and first responders use door rams to maximize impact from the side, underhand, or overhand. Heavy-duty rams that can breach most residential doors are necessary to ensure maximum efficiency.

34. Marrying Strap

Marrying straps allow first responders to free one hand while using the other to hold onto the ladder rung, stair railing, direct a flashlight, etc. The purpose of the marrying strap is to marry the irons together to allow carrying the unit with one hand only.

35. Wood Door Chocks

wooden doorstop on carpet holding door open

Wood door chocks allow for more efficient door control. These tools are crucial for a self-locking door that can close behind the responder as they enter the property. The chocks are of tremendous help during the evacuation of occupied buildings.

36. Helmet

firefighters outdoors, wearing full gear uniforms and helmets

A helmet ensures safety and security for first responders and allows them to do their job without coming in direct contact with contaminants, chemical hazards, smoke, etc. Ballistic protection helmets reduce head injury and fatalities in first responders working in law enforcement.

37. Rescue Knife

Rescue knives are must-haves in any first responder bag. Whether it’s to cut a first aid package, free the casualty from their seat or cut fabric or other material, rescue knives have wide use cases and make the first responder’s job much more efficient.

38. Power Saw

Power saws are go-to tools for numerous operations on the fire ground. They are used for venting, forcible entry, clearing fire lines, and countless other rescue situations. Many firefighters and rescue teams use gasoline-powered chainsaws.

39. Wheel Block and Holder

woman putting car black under car wheels

Wheel holders prevent vehicles from moving and are used in addition to brake settings. These tools are made from heavy-duty materials like rubber or polyurethane and go against the vehicle’s wheels. Wheel holders maximize rescue mission safety and prevent involuntary vehicle movement.

40. Halligan bar

halligan bar outside in front of fire

First responders use Halligan bars to aid forcible entry efforts. This multipurpose tool can strike, pry, twist, and punch. Made of a blade, claw, and tapered pick, some variants come with a heavy sliding collar on the shaft. The Halligan bars are available in different lengths and materials to meet different rescue purposes.

41. Tool Hanger

Tool hangers are helpful for first responder stations. Sorting tools on the wall or other convenient surfaces allow easy access and smooth operation. Most hangers can be mounted on the wall and are used with mount hooks for an easy storage solution.

42. First Responder Uniform

Firefighter suits hanging from wall station

The North American emergency management service responders must wear a uniform by law. The color or style of the uniform varies from one city to another. Uniforms protect the rescuer from burns, chemical hazards, scratches, and other types of injury.

43. Wire and Rope Cutters

man hand in gloves cutting wires with wire cutter

Wire and rope cutters are special tools for forcible entry and other rescue situations. These tools are made of heavy-duty materials and can tackle aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and wire ropes. High-force cutters are versatile tools that deserve a place in any firefighter’s bag.

44. Fiberglass Handle Tools

The handle tools can be used in storage facilities and are attached to rakes, axes, and other tools when needed. High-quality fiberglass handle tools are heat resistant, strong, and useful in all conditions. These handles are unaffected by blows, cuts, moisture, and industrial chemicals and are easy to clean.

45. Brooms or Mops

firefighters sweep to remove oil from road

Brooms and mops are important tools for first responders in numerous situations. Fire brooms are efficient for grass and grain and direct-range fire attacks. They also serve as mop-up tools. If you need fire brooms, look for heavy-duty replaceable broom head solutions with a steel shank.

46. Rake

Rakes, especially fire rakes, help clear the road or path following a fire. Rakes also make entry easier wherever there’s a buildup of items, debris, and trash following a disaster. If you often perform rescue missions in the open field, include a rake on your inventory list.

47. Oxygen Tank Wrench

EMS worker adjusts gauge on oxygen tank

Oxygen tank wrenches are essential for opening portable oxygen cylinders. These tools are highly useful for first responders in the medical field. Also known as oxygen keys, oxygen tank wrenches are usually made from hardened plastic to avoid metal-to-metal contact around oxygen cylinders.

48. Glass Breaker Tip

Glass breaker tips are hand tools that can break tough windows in emergencies. The glass breakers are essential during forcible entry rescue. Many vehicles have glass breakers so occupants can break the glass from within. First responders must have these tools in case the victims are unresponsive or unable to use the tool independently.

49. Battery Charger

Battery chargers are of the utmost importance during long rescue missions when first responders have to spend time in the open. Responders can charge their laptops, mobile computers, tablets, or cell phones despite the lack of power points.

50. Defibrillators and Defibrillator Pads

first responder removing Defibrillator from ambulance

Defibrillators are essential in helping victims of cardiac arrest. The pads are a key part of automated external defibrillators that treat sudden heart attacks. These pads are attached to the defibrillator and the patient’s chest and allow monitoring of the heart rhythm.

Top 7 Tips for Upgrading First Responder Technology Tools

A man inside a car writing on a paper with laptop in front of him

There are many first-responder technology tools in the modern-day market. Staying on top of your equipment is necessary to ensure the maximum efficiency of your first responder team. The seven easy tips below will help you get there faster:

  • Buy technology from reputable sellers.
  • Get tools that match your first responders’ needs.
  • Purchase technology tools that are easy to use in any situation.
  • Train your responders to use the tools for maximum efficiency.
  • Contact a law enforcement expert to discuss the best tools and software.
  • Follow the latest trends in the field.
  • Upgrade your gear whenever possible.

Talk to Law Enforcement Expert

The 50 must-have tools for first responders in different fields featured in this article will help equip your team with lifesaving equipment. Most of these tools can easily match your team’s specialty or field.

However, when it comes to technology, the situation is slightly different. Deciding between mobile computers, tablets, laptops, or cell phones can be challenging. If your team uses outdated technology, you may wonder what’s the best tool to ensure maximum efficiency and performance.

Fortunately, law enforcement experts can help you decide. Tell us your needs and expectations by contacting one of our EE experts, and we’ll help you find a customized solution for your team. We offer bulk purchase discounts, warranties, and numerous other benefits.