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EMS uniforms: Does color matter?

A majority of readers are most concerned about the color of their uniforms in regard to setting them apart from police officers


Uniforms are part of the first impression the community will have on the responding crew.

Photo/Hennepin EMS

By EMS1 Staff

Gone are the days of all EMS providers wearing white pants, white shirt or a dark navy outfit.

And because of this variety, EMS1 columnist Catherine Counts looked at the impact and role uniform color plays. Specifically, she looked at research regarding police-public interactions and if EMS could benefit and change anything with the findings.

We asked our Facebook fans what color they thought paramedics should wear. A majority of commenters were most concerned about the color of their uniforms in regard to setting them apart from police officers. Others talked about the need for more high-visible clothing in EMS and their color preference based off weather resistance and job-related messes.

Do you think color matters? Let us know in the comments below.

1. “No badge. I’m a big fan of high visible uniforms, because this way at 3 a.m. we don’t look like cops. I worked at one place where they had jumpsuits. As long as we don’t look like cops. When we do, it tends to cause problems.” — Brian Conner

2. “We have white tops and navy pants with BLS in all navy. I like how my uniform looks brand new. However, a white shirt is not practical for EMS providers day-to-day. Everything from fluids, to sweat stains, dirty footprints on your chest and even food. Without fail, I always spill my coffee the morning I wear a brand new shirt.” — Denise Chagnon Beady

3. “I’m from Germany, and here it is a law that EMS providers have to wear high-visible clothes. So we have orange trousers, orange jackets and white shirts.” — Moritz Werthschulte

4. “I agree to not having badges. I used to work for a private service and our class A’s were 100 percent red. To me, that just screams ‘medical’ and I have yet to come across any LE that wears red. That’s how it should be.” — Luke Ailiff

5. “I’ve been mistaken for a police officer all of the time. I prefer the blues. I think they look professional. I have worn white shirt and blue pants and by the first 10 minutes they’re already dirty. I prefer a blue polo shirt with EMS and professional licensure on back.” — Brian Schilling

6. “Red shirts, black pants. Red and black are great at hiding stains, helps you to stay looking professional. Red doesn’t retain much heat when working an MVC in the blistering Texas sun. Red is more flashy and EMS-related than blues, blacks and other dark colors and sets us apart from police officers, helps reduce danger as well. When I see gray, I think correctional officer. When I see beige, I think security guard.” — Ari Andalman

7. “I would love a universal color coding. I also think we need to ditch the dark blue. I’m patriotic, but Europe is right to put their first responders that are not police into high visibility yellows and greens. I say fire should move toward a high visible yellow and red, and EMS should be high VI’s yellow and royal blue.” — Lawson C Stuart

8. “Ours are white. Not real practical, but the argument is that they want us to not look anything like our local LEOs who have blue and tan.” — Adrian Hoesli

9. “Red. Easily recognizable and no confusion with law enforcement.” — Jake Walker

10. “I like the idea of scrubs. Not just any type, though. Something specially designed for EMS in whatever colors a specific company is.” — Britni Martinez