LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Identify initial equipment and supply needs.

In a first aid situation, the medical technician must always be ready to improvise. In many field emergency situations, standard medical supplies and equipment may not be immediately available, or they may run out. When medical supplies and equipment are available, they will probably be found in an ambulance.

Table 3-1 lists equipment currently required for EMT-Basic level ambulances.

Table 3-1.—Essential Equipment for Ambulance ETM-Basic Level

General Category
of Equipment
Detailed Breakdown Comments
Patient transfer litter  Collapsible-wheeled litter  
Ventilation and airway equipment Portable suction apparatus Wide-bore tubing, rigid pharyngeal curved suction cup
Portable fixed oxygen equipment Variable flow regulator, humidifier (on fixed equipment)
Oxygen administration equipment Adequate length tubing, masks (adult, child, and infant sizes; transparent, non-rebreathing, venture and valveless nasal prongs)
Bag-valve mask Hand-operated, self-reexpanding bag (adult and infant sizes, ~0.85), accumulator (Fi02, 0.9), clear mask (adult, child, and infant sizes), valve (clear, easily cleanable, operable in cold weather)
Airways Nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal (adult, child, and infant sizes)
Respirator (optional) Volume-cycled valve, on-off operation, 100% oxygen, 40-50 psi pressure
Immobilization devices (splints) Traction (adult and pediatric sizes) Lower extremity, limb-support slings, padded ankle hitch, padded pelvic support, traction strap
Extremity immobilization devices Joint above and joint below fracture, rigid support, appropriate material (cardboard, metal, pneumatic, wood, plastic, etc.)
Backboards (long, short, and clamshell) Joint above and point below fracture site. Chinstrap (should not use for head immobilization), hand holds for moving patient, short (extrication: head-to-pelvis length), long (transport: head-to-feet length)
Bandages Adhesive tape 2" or larger
Burn sheets Two clean (not sterile)
Triangle bandages Eight, three safety pins each
Dressings Sterile, large and small
Roller bandages
  • Soft
  • Elastic
  • Sterile, 4" or larger
  • Nonsterile, 4" or larger
Vaseline gauze Sterile, 3" × 8" or larger
Pneumatic Antishock Garment (MAST) Compartmentalized (legs and abdomen separate), control valves (closed/open), inflation pump, lower leg to lower rib cage (does not include chest)  
Obstetrical equipment Sterile obstetrical kit Towels, 4" × 4" dressing, umbilical tape type, bulb syringe, clamps for cords, sterile gloves, blanket
Aluminum foil roll Enough to cover a newborn
Miscellaneous Sphygmomanometer


Heavy bandage scissors for cutting clothing, belts, boots, etc.

Mouth gags (commercial or tongue blades covered with gauze)



Radio communication Two-way communication (EMT to physician) Radio UHF (ultra-high frequency) or VHF (very-high frequency)
Portable cellular telephone (optional)  

Table 3-2 lists the contents of an emergency bag that a medical technician might find in an ambulance.


Table 3-2.—Ambulance Emergency Bag Contents

Regular drip IV tubing
Mini drip IV tubing
IV extension tubing
19-gauge butterflies
18-gauge Medicut®
16-gauge Medicut®
Adult oxygen mask
Nasal cannula
Oxygen tubing
Airways (various sizes)
Ambu bag
Trach adaptor
Suction tubing
Straight & Y-connector
Toomey syringe
10cc syringe
20-gauge needles
Alcohol swabs
Examination gloves
Sodium Chlorideampules
Ammonia ampules
Syrup of Ipecac
Ace® wrap
Arm slings
Safety pins
Tongue blades
4 x 4’s
Grease pencil

For may years, military medics and corpsmen carried the "Unit One Bag." It was made of nylon, weighed about 9 pounds, had an adjustable carrying strap, and contained four strong compartments. The civilian equivalent of the Unit One Bag would contain the items listed below in table 3–3.

Table 3–3.—Unit One Bag Contents


One roll wire fabric, 5 x 36
One tourniquet
Two bottles of aspirin, 324 mg, 1 00s
Three packages of morphine inj., 1/4 g, 5s
One bottle tetracaine hydrochloride ophthalmic sol.
One airway, plastic, adult/ child
Two packages atropine inj., 1 2s
Two muslin triangular bandages
Two medium battle dressings, 7 1/4 x8
Eight small battle dressings 4 x 7
One roll adhesive tape, 3 inx5yds
One pair scissors, bandage
Six packages of plastic strip bandages, 6s
Three bottles povidone-iodine solution, 1/2 fl oz
One thermometer, oral
One card of safety pins, medium, 12s
Two books field medical cards
One surgical instrument set, minor surgery
One pencil, black lead, mechanical
Two packages gauze, rolled,3 in x 5 yds