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New emesis container is pocket-size and hands free

Ramedic has incorporated several design elements that most medics probably don’t even know they’re missing


Photo Jamie Thompson
Valerie Ramage shows how the Hurl-e is worn at EMS Today.

With emesis containers, one doesn’t give much thought to design. It’s a bag, and it holds vomit. Make sure it’s strong enough to hold liquids and can be sealed, and you’re good to go.

The creators of the new Hurl-e Emesis Container — winner of the Judge’s Choice JEMSY Award for Best New Product at EMS Today — beg to differ.

With the Hurl-e, Irvine, California-based Ramedic has incorporated several design elements that most medics probably don’t even know they’re missing with their traditional waste bag or wash basin.

Ramedic President Richard Ramage said the idea for the emesis container came from his son Anthony’s experience working as a medic in Ventura County, where many of his patients were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

With sick patients, he would cut a hole in a red bag and stick their head through the hole, creating a makeshift bib that did a poor job of keeping the patient, or himself, clean.

“You inevitably had a mess going down the front of the patient and onto the medic,” Ramage explained. His son’s frustration with the poor bag design led to their invention of the Hurl-e.

Made from four-millimeter-thick high density polyethylene, the Hurl-e comes folded in a small rectangle that unfolds into a two-liter container with a large opening and a flat bottom.

The Hurl-e’s most unique innovation is its “bib/chute” back panel. When unfolded, the container’s side and back panels create a “bib/chute” that channels vomit into the container without any help from the patient or the medic. And by securing the back panel under the patient’s chin using an attached neck strap, the Hurl-e is essentially a hands-free tool.

Ramage tested prototypes of the Hurl-e at a hospital in Detroit, where he said it was a hit with the nurses and doctors on staff. The nurses pointed out that a lot of their patients would get embarrassed when vomiting into a wash basin or trash can, and they would hold the back guard up and hide behind it as a way retain a feeling of privacy. Medics who have used the Hurl-e in the field say they’ve seen the same behavior with their patients, Ramage said.

The flat bottom (which allows medics to set the Hurl-e down and easily pick it back up), the bib/chute, the privacy shield – all are the kinds of simple design innovations that make you wonder why barf bags haven’t been made this way from the beginning.

But one thing about their product worried Ramage and his son: the name. Was ‘Hurl-e’ too cutesy or playful? Would medics be put off by it, think it was unprofessional?

If the response they got at last week’s conference is any evidence, not at all.

“Nurses love the name, medics love the name. They look at the product and get this huge smile,” Ramage said. “Everyone thinks it’s just a big emesis container, but when they see the bib and the neck attachment they say ‘We need this. We don’t have this.’”

“After all,” he added, “it’s a little unprofessional to be sticking someone’s head in a trash bag.”

The Hurl-e was developed specifically to meet the special requirements of paramedics, first responders and emergency room personnel. For more details, visit

Drew Johnson was the editor of EMS1, and his contributions to the EMS1 editorial lineup focus on new EMS products, services, and technologies. A native of Oklahoma, Drew has previously written for both print and online media outlets on a wide range of topics, including finance, education, real estate, and politics.