Essential Guide to Emergency Health Equipment: What You Need to Know to Be Prepared

In medical emergencies, Emergency Medical Services have to be properly equipped with specialized instruments to provide emergency care to victims. Here, you can find more about what are some of the most important pieces of equipment and instruments used by medical professionals in emergency treatment. You have probably seen some of these on television shows or in movies, but you may not be familiar with what each of the items is used for and how they can help treat patients in emergency need of medical assistance.



Some of the equipment may look simple and basic, but they play an instrumental role in the patient’s treatment and are used by paramedics on a daily basis. Paramedics are trained professionals and they need to learn how to properly use each instrument during their education. Continuous training and education, alongside daily use of the equipment, assures the proper skills needed for a paramedic.

Here is a list of the most important instruments and devices used by medical professionals in emergencies:


This is a bag carried by paramedics, and it contains all necessary surgical and other instruments, such as bandages, syringes, drips, etc. It is similar to a personal first aid kit, except it is much larger and better supplied. Jump-bags are usually quite big and heavy–they can weigh up to 20kg and they are stacked with equipment.

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Medications Bag

This is another bag carried by medical professionals, and it contains all necessary medications to administer to patients. The sizes of the bags and the type of medications in them depend on the qualifications of the medical professional. It contains many individual pouches in order to keep the medications organized and separated.

Pocket mask

Also called a CPR mask, this device is used to deliver breaths to patients suffering from cardiac or respiratory arrest. You should be aware that it is not the same thing as a bag valve mask (BVM).

Bag valve mask

BVM is used to give breaths manually to help patients who are not breathing or have trouble breathing adequately. There are various sizes, so it can be adjusted for children and infants. The device itself is attached to an oxygen cylinder, and the mask is placed over the patient’s mouth and nose. Paramedics then manually squeeze the device to allow oxygen to enter the patient’s lungs.


These machines are designed to help air move into the lungs when the patient is not breathing or having trouble breathing adequately. The air moves by mechanical force and fills the patient’s lungs. The machine has different settings that the advanced life support paramedic needs to adjust. They can manually alter the depth and the rate of ventilation. The oxygen is provided from an oxygen cylinder that is connected to the device.

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Cervical collar

Popularly called a neck brace, this is the equipment used to support a patient’s neck to secure a possible cervical fracture. It is important to do so before moving the patient from the trauma scene because a cervical fracture puts the patient at risk for a spinal cord injury that can be worsened by movement. Moving a patient who sustained spinal cord injury without care and control can cause paralysis and it can even be fatal.

For example, the neck brace is commonly used on car accident patients who suffered whiplash. Paramedics use the brace to prevent additional injury until they determine whether the fracture exists, which is done by taking X-rays. The cervical collar is used to stabilize the top vertebrae only–from C1 to C7. To stabilize the rest of the spinal cord, paramedics use other immobilizing equipment, such as K.E.D.

Kendrick extrication device

The K.E.D. is a device used in traffic collision emergencies. It is a brace used to pull out the victim from the motor vehicle. It secures the head, neck, and torso so that the victim can be transferred safely. The victim is put in a neutral position to reduce the risk of additional injury during the extraction from the vehicle.

Trauma/spinal board

This is a stretcher designed to help patients who sustained some kind of spinal injury. It provides rigid support because it is not padded, assuring proper transport for this specific type of injury, although the board is used to carry all other patients over when necessary.

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Suction unit

This piece of equipment is used to remove fluids and secretions from the airway of the patient. When fluids are obstructing the patient’s airway, complications with the respiratory system may arise. To avoid that, medical professionals use a catheter to tube the patient and suction the blockage, thus freeing the airway.


This intubation instrument is used for indirect tracheal intubation. It is video or optic assisted and used in complicated situations when the airway closes. Airtraq is created to enable professionals to gain a view of the glottic opening while reducing the amount of head movement and positioning, which gives this approach an advantage over endotracheal intubation.

ECG monitor with defibrillator

When it comes to this precious piece of equipment, there are various models used by professionals in emergency medicine. The models vary from more basic automated monitors to advanced ones that provide information about multiple parameters. ECG monitors are used primarily to measure the patient’s ECG and display the information on a screen. This is a valuable measurement in emergencies because it allows one to keep track of heart functions.

The defibrillator is used in situations where cardiac arrhythmias occur, and the heart needs to be shocked to restore the normal electrical impulse in order to make it beat normally again.

Manual defibrillators

Manual defibrillators are mainly stored in hospitals or inside ambulance vehicles. They provide information about the patient’s ECG and allow professionals to use these measurements to adjust the therapy accordingly, like switching from an automated function to manual defibrillation. Various additional parts come with this machine, such as SPO2 attachments, or cuffs for measuring blood pressure.

Automated external defibrillator (AED)

AED is another machine used in cardiac arrest emergencies, a condition where the heart stops beating normally. This is often a life-threatening situation that requires a fast reaction. AED machines are used to shock the heart to achieve normal function again. Unlike manual defibrillators, this machine is much smaller and more portable.

According to Avive AED devices are specifically designed to be used by individuals with little training and education. They are also more affordable than professional models and manual defibrillators.

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How does an AED machine work?

They are easy to use and come with voice instructions to guide handlers through the entire process. Several different models are currently available and approved by the FDA. The FDA insists on reviewing the human factor trial during the quality-assurance process to make sure that it is possible to properly and easily handle them by people with minimal training.

The machine is built with just a few components, such as electrode pads that are placed to the patient’s chest and used for heartbeat registering, a battery, a capacitor that is used for energy storage and release, and a processor that analyzes the heart rhythm and gives the information whether the shock is to be delivered or not.

Even though it is designed to be used easily and consists of only a few parts, this machine works with highly advanced algorithms and offers therapy options that can be lifesaving.

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More about the AEDs

Automated external defibrillators can detect two types of heart rhythm irregularities – ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. When one of these arrhythmias is detected by the device, it automatically delivers an electric shock.

AEDs are automated and created to avoid the process of guessing when deciding whether a shock needs to be delivered to the patient or not. The person operating the AED doesn’t need to read and decipher the ECG measurements because the device analyzes the heart rhythm for them. That is what makes this device different from manual defibrillators or the ones used by paramedics. There are semi-automatic and fully automatic devices available on the market.

Professional AED models

This is a hybrid model that stands between a professional manual defibrillator and an automated one. The professional model displays the ECG measurements on a built-in screen. It is usually used by first responders in emergencies, such as paramedics and firefighters. Some agencies provide the professional model to police officers for use as well. Other providers, however, do not recommend this option since they consider it unnecessary. They also highlight that police officers usually don’t need to know how to analyze the heart rhythm, so the automated model is a better option, considering it does the analysis and delivers a shock automatically when needed.

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