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How to buy EMS gloves

As an essential piece of personal protective equipment, you want to make sure gloves fit well, are durable, and are readily available

Exam gloves are one of the few items used by EMS professionals on every call. As an essential piece of personal protective equipment, you want to make sure gloves fit well, are durable, and are readily available so they can be used regularly and withstand the normal conditions of EMS patient assessment, treatment, and transport.

Rescue or extrication gloves are used less frequently by EMS professionals. If you are regularly involved in patient extrication from damaged motor vehicles, collapsed structures, or hazardous situations, you should select a set of gloves that is puncture and abrasion-resistant, padded in high-wear areas, and has finger and palm-gripping areas.

Before you buy durable medical gloves

When purchasing exam gloves for EMS professionals consider these things:

  1. Always try before you buy. Ask the vendor for several boxes of exam gloves in different sizes. Switch the trial gloves into the ambulances on each shift.
  2. Ask for feedback. Specifically, ask for verbal feedback from crews about the new gloves. Are their opinions good, bad, or indifferent? In our experience, very few crew members will respond to an email to share their opinions about gloves.
  3. Rips and breaks. A good exam glove will rarely break or rip during normal use.
  4. Snug fit without being tight. Exam gloves should fit snuggly to the hand and fingers without being constricting. A loose glove, regardless of the size, compromises fine motor skills like the use of needles and drug administration.
  5. Avoid color gimmicks. Except for the few medics working in tactical or hostile environments, few field personnel need black or brown exam gloves. Glove color should be a non-factor when purchasing exam gloves.
  6. Cost. Like any type of disposable medical supply cost should be a consideration, but remember gloves are an important piece of personal protective equipment that can prevent field personnel from becoming sick or injured and help short or long-term service interruptions.

3 questions to ask before buying EMS gloves

Before finalizing a purchase for EMS exam gloves, ask the vendor these questions.

  1. What safety standards do your gloves meet, and are they compliant with relevant health and safety regulations (such as FDA standards for medical gloves or ASTM standards)?
  2. How durable are these gloves in various medical and environmental conditions, and what kind of quality assurance tests have they undergone?
  3. Can you provide information on the reliability of your supply chain for these gloves, and what options or discounts are available for bulk orders?

These questions can help make an informed purchasing decision by ensuring that the gloves meet necessary safety standards, are reliable under various conditions, and that their supply can be consistently maintained.

Glove and hand hygiene reminders

Finally, trying out or purchasing new gloves is a good time to remind field personnel about basic glove and hand hygiene. A few simple reminders include:

  • Don’t put gloves on while you are driving and still touching the likely contaminated wheel and controls.
  • Don your gloves as you approach the patient.
  • Change gloves if you are switching to a different patient.
  • Remove gloves and wash your hands before touching the steering wheel, picking up the mobile radio, or entering patient assessment data into a mobile or handheld computer.
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This article, originally published January 12, 2010, has been updated.

EMS1 is using generative AI to create some content that is edited and fact-checked by our editors.

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