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.

When purchasing exam gloves for EMS professionals consider these things:

1. Always try before you buy. Ask the vendor for several boxes of the exam glove 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 my 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. With the exception of the few medics working in tactical or hostile environments, very 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.

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.

Any other suggestions for purchasing EMS exam gloves? What features do you seek in an exam glove? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or email with your feedback.

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