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Design a distinct uniform to identify professional EMS

Do we need a distinct EMS uniform?  

82 members have voted

  1. 1.

    • Yes, We need a professional look
      63
    • No, I like looking like a cop/FF
      15
    • I prefer to wear whatever I want
      4


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What uniform would be professional but separate us from cops and FF? It was mentioned on another post that the badges and cop shirts so many choose to use actually places us in harms way. As healthcare professionals that work in a more rugged environment than hospital workers, what would identify us as street healthcare providers, be durable, look professional, but separate us from LE/FF?

Think about it we see Dr's, nurses, lab techs, etc in scrubs and know they are some type of healthcare provider. Is there some type of more durable scrubs or do we just need someone to design an entirely different but identifiable uniform that the public would know w/o a doubt who we are? Are we just stuck wearing either LE/FF or t-shirts? I want us to become a recognizable professional group, distinct from other groups. What are your thoughts, ideas?

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Black boots, black dickies pants/EMS pants/ETC, green polo shirt. For what ever reason, I've always associated green with medical [ok, the college volunteer group at the hospital wore green polo shirts and the hospital's color code for scrubs had green reserved for physicians (gray/maroon was for CNAs and blue was for RNs)]. It gets us away from the paramilitary look of the dark colored uniforms that police and fire uses. It also gives EMS it's own color [PR anyone?] since red is already associated with the fire department and blue is associated with the police department.

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The problem with all this colour coding is that it is obvious to only a small amount of the population. The coloured scrubs work only for quickly identifying your co-workers. The patients are oblivious to it. Same with the blue and red thing. And remember, half or more of the population think we are all firemonkeys to begin with, no matter what we wear. The EMERGENCY! legacy lives on.

I'd bet that equal parts of the population associate red, blue, and green with the medical arts. White would come out significantly higher rated than any of those though. Personally, I am all about white, and have yet to hear a professionally relevant argument against it. Just a bunch of idiots complaining about dirt showing up on it. Ya know what? If your shirt has crap on it, you need to change it, not hide it. When your shirt is white (and clean), your patients know you are not hiding taco juice and the last patient's sputum in your uniform, and it encourages confidence.

Of course, colour choice is only a very small part of the picture. Functionality and distinctive appearance are even more important. Just taking the same Flying Cross shirts that the PD and FD use and sewing different patches on it don't accomplish that. I've worn plain white uniform shirts with no patches, badges, pins, nametags, or anything else on them for years and never had any problem with people not being able to identify me. Generally the big ambulance with the flashing lights, and all the medical equipment in my hands is a giveaway.

As for scrubs, the great majority of those who slam them as not functional enough for EMS are talking out their arses because they have never tried it. I have. They work just fine. I'm a medic, not a high mountain ranger. I don't need anything heavier. If I do, I throw on some coveralls. And, as has already been suggested, there is nothing else that is as readily identified with the medical professions as scrubs. There are indeed some seriously tough scrubs out there these days too, that are up to the rigors of EMS duty. They certainly wouldn't be my first choice in all systems, especially in the winter. But otherwise, don't knock it til you try it.

Speaking of coveralls, flight suit type coveralls are an attractive option for many reasons. Although, they do not immediately scream "medical" to the public, they are indeed functional (lots of custom pockets, very unrestrictive, easy on/easy off, as comfortable as scrubs), identifiable (nobody else is walking around in them), and unique (nothing like the cops or firemonkeys wear).

Lots of factors to be considered. Unfortunately, in EMS it seems that people are more into blindly doing whatever everybody else is doing, with no regard given to professional image. And since a great many people in EMS are just cop and firemonkey wannabes anyhow, the madness will continue.

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Dust good point. If we can get everyone to wear some good scrubs with reinforced knees and a few better pockets. Then the flight suits when need more durable or for bad weather. Maybe leave color choices to each service. Could work.

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Black boots, black dickies pants/EMS pants/ETC, green polo shirt.

To me that still has the police, military look. I really think we need a way to look more like the healthcare professionals that some of us feel like we are. But thanks for your input lets keep working on all the ideas.

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I have some personal opinions from experience. Wearing everything from scrubs to Dickie's, flightsuit, etc.

Personally, I hate the eplett type "Police" shirt type uniform, from being confused as a security guard to the local cop. As well, sorry... hate the white colored. I have worn it for the past 25+ years, and yes it does show every piece of dirt, dust, sweat, etc. Sure one can change, but unfortunately most EMS these days are too busy for one to just stop and change uniforms every three to four hours, as well I personally like my starched and pressed. The old white shirt with blue/black pants appears to be the norm. Personally, I like a nice polo type (again good type) shirt. I have seen tan or various colors, that appear very nice and still have a uniform appearance.

Far as scrubs, it always appear someone is in their pajamas when working in the field. Sorry, scrubs are far misused even in the hospital setting. Professional standards have decreased when they started allowing med-surg and other areas to use scrubs as their normal uniforms. Now, everyone is using them. From housekeeping to maintenance to the transplant team. They appear to be slouchy, and very few ever have seen an iron.

I can see busy areas in the hospital such as ER, CCU, etc. but nursery? So, no personally I think scrubs, especially in the out of hospital arena is poor. I don't even like seeing people in them in stores off duty.. etc. They are not definitely not heavy enough or durable enough, there is a company that designs scrubs in a flight suit pattern (tapered with pockets, and scissor/ink pen holder), that appears better.

I agree, we need to get away from the "public safety" type uniform. Maybe, with time we can develop a professional standard type, that will reflect our job.

R/r 911

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I'm with Dust on the white.... its says health professional... than maybe the profession will upgrade our education, etc. for entry into the field...

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Speaking of coveralls, flight suit type coveralls are an attractive option for many reasons. Although, they do not immediately scream "medical" to the public, they are indeed functional (lots of custom pockets, very unrestrictive, easy on/easy off, as comfortable as scrubs), identifiable (nobody else is walking around in them), and unique (nothing like the cops or firemonkeys wear).

I believe in Sicko there were some either UK or France medics seen in the back of one of the shots and they appeared to be wearing a green version of what you describe. It sure would give us a distinctive look and I still think that it has a professional appearance.

One other thing of importance I think should be visibility (whether it come from colour, reflective, or both). At least in Ontario, most services have the construction worker style reflective vests to be worn on car accident scenes. I'm sure we all know how often this actually happens in most services. Of course the solution to this problem could be to just wear the damn vest, but I think a more practical solution would be to integrate something for visibility into the uniform.

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The problem with all this colour coding is that it is obvious to only a small amount of the population. The coloured scrubs work only for quickly identifying your co-workers. The patients are oblivious to it. Same with the blue and red thing. And remember, half or more of the population think we are all firemonkeys to begin with, no matter what we wear. The EMERGENCY! legacy lives on.

I wasn't trying to imply that hospital uniform color codes would be understood by the public, just that's where the the specific color green came from.

You are correct that, unfortunately, EMS is synonymous with the fire service. Unfortunately the only way separate them in the publics mind is to brand EMS as it's own service. While the medical supplies and the ambulance tend to give it away in the moment, is it something that will stick in people's mind AFTER the call?

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I personally love the flight/jump suit. Others don't. I think it's a good, comfortable, easy on/easy off, which is great for night shifts, where you can sleep in your gym shorts/t-shirt, which are underneath your jump suit. Also, it provides the distinct look EMS is looking for, as not to be confused with LEO, or Firefighters. I think Dress Uniforms are still necessary for Public Relation events, such as parades, functions, and events, but for all EMS calls, the jump suit provides a good alternative. I know that I prefer wearing a jump suit, compared to my EMS pants/ shirt on a prolonged extrication call. It's just a lot more comfortable underneath that big turnout coat, then in my EMS pants.

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