Let me ask you about uniforms...

NomadicMedic

EMS Edumacator
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What style of uniform do you wear? What style of uniform do you prefer? Polo shirts? Class B shirts? T-shirts? Ball caps? EMS pants or straight no cargo pocket uniform pants? Shorts? Athletic shoes or boots? Belts?

We’ve been having an internal debate at my service over uniforms. Our field staff currently wear class B button down shirts and navy blue pants. They can wear EMS pants or not, any type of black belt and any type of black duty shoe or boot. Officers wear white button down shirts with appropriate collar brass and navy blue pants. Instructors and office staff may wear a polo shirt. For outerwear, we have red and navy blauer jackets and military type sweaters are approved for wear as well. No job shirts.

We have a staff that doesn’t exactly look uniform however. Some wear vests, some have different jackets, some look awfully ragtag. I’m curious how your department maintains a sharp looking uniform standard and what you found really looks good.
 

NPO

Forum Deputy Chief
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We also have a rather lax definition of "uniform" compared to where I used to work where it was almost military in uniformity. We have a standard uniform, but there have been several generations of jackets and many of the senior employees still wear old ones.

Our basic uniform is a navy blue polo, or a blue class b shirt. Pants are EMS pants with basket weave black belt. Footwear just has to be black with adequate support and function for the job. But they don't care if you have a short boot.

We can wear either the polo or class B at our discretion, as long as you match your partner.

For jackets, you have many options. Everyone is issued a zip up jacket upon hire (it's actually the removable liner from the rain coat), but many people also opt to get a 5.11 1/4 zip pull-over.
 

SpecialK

Forum Captain
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For decades the uniform was a business shirt and pants. The colours of the patches and epaulettes changed but the basic design stayed the same.

About five years ago this changed from a white shirt/black trousers to green shirt and green cargo pants. Practice level was taken off patches on the arm and put onto epaulettes like ASNSW and the UK have. I think it was a year or two ago that polo shirts were trialled for some instead of the two piece including a shirt. They are amazing. I have worn one and they're the best.

The problem with the standard business shirt they are quite long so they don't become fully untucked when moving but they are impractical for exactly that reason. They end up looking scruffy and flailing everywhere which is not only impractical but looks unprofessional.

If I was to design the perfect uniform, it would be ....

- A green pair of cargo pants with reflective bands around the bottom
- A high visibility yellow polo shirt with "AMBULANCE" written on the back
- No epaulettes or patches (they are unnecessary I think)
- Logo on the left and name on the right (name can be removable velcro)

There is some need to delineate personnel by practice level; this could be as simple as on the name tag saying "[SK] EMT" or "[SK]" and "PARAMEDIC" on two lines.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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lets see... my first FT EMS job: everyone wore white class B shirts, with black 4 pocket pants, agency purchased. supervisors got gold nametags, fieldstaff had silver. jobshirts were approved, as were sweaters, but they were at the employees expense; both needed agency patch on one shoulder, and certification patch on the other. jacket was agency purchased, and black with appropriate patches.

second FT EMS job: staff wore light blue class B shirts, with supervisors wearing white; all agency provided. if jobshirts were worn, either a uniform shirt or turtleneck needed to be worn underneath.agency patch on one shoulder, and certification level on the other, and all was at the employees expense. 4 pocket blue pants were provided; if you wanted to upgrade to EMS cargo pants, the employee could at his expense. polos were allowed during the summer, at the employee expense. comms personnel could wear either class b or polo year round. Jacket was issue but crappy, and not warm; we did upgrade to a better jacket as I was leaving.

no agency has ever provided belts or shoes; however they needed to be black to conform to uniform standards. Hats were not provided, always at the employee expense.

My current FT: standard uniform is a blue T shirt, and navy pants. navy EMS shorts are permitted, and gym shorts are issued for sleeping and workouts. we also allow FD issued hoodies, sweatshirts, jobshirts (but these are buy your own), winter hats, baseball hats, crappy jackets, new jackets, dress uniforms (the chief is usually the only one in a button down) if there is a need, and polos. And turnout gear is issued, and mostly standardized

Part of the issue with uniforms is what you call uniform. At my first volunteer EMS agency (from back in the day, before I started), the "uniform" was white jumpsuits, agency provided, as well as a green jacket. Then they approved black 4 pocket pants and white class B shirt, if the member wanted to purchase them. Then someone decided to order black silk screened T shirts. Then they ordered navy blue jumpsuits, agency provided. We then had forest green silk screen T-shirts, as well as black. and someone ordered slime green t shirts, which looked horrible. We purchased some 5.11 white tactical polos, which were awesome, and later someone ordered t shirts with the agency logo embroidered on the left chest, which looked horrible. all were uniform, but, as you can imagine, lacked uniformity.

Honest question to @NomadicMedic: why does it matter? Does it really matter if your crew prefers straight pants or cargo pants? If everyone has different types of footware, as long as it meets the standards, does it matter? If someone prefers a vest to a jacket, does that really impact performance?

My personal preference: Issue me a few polo shirts with my name on it, with a different color for field staff and supervisors, that has pen pockets on the sleeves, like a 5.11 tactical style that is comfy and breathes. Pick your color of EMS pants, and give me a few. I have so many pairs of EMS pants from over the years, in both black and blue, that I might not even need them. If someone prefers 4 pocket pants, get them those, but I like my cargos, especially ones with zippers so I don't have to leave my wallet in my back pocket. Allow jobshirts, with agency patches and embroidery, as well as name. or commando sweaters. personal preference, so let people chose what they want. Give me 5 department issue undershirts, with silk screening, that can be worn under my jobshirt or polo, so I don't need to wear my collared shirt under my jobshirt, but if I need to take if off, I am still identifiable. And give me a 3 season jacket, with a concealable hood, that meets ANSI requirements for highway visibility, and will keep me warm and dry. Oh, and give me a $100 uniform allowance every year, that can be spent on footwear, department approved embroidered apparel (http://trdesignsinc.net was who we used, because they were able to make one-off silk screen T shirt or polo shirts for relatively cheap), jobshirts, etc, so if I wanted something else, I could get it, but the agency didn't have to spend money on something that I was never going to wear. Oh, and if something is getting worn out, either with holes or color changes, make them dispose of that shirt, and either issue them a new one, or that's what their uniform allowance is for (might need to up it to 200 a year in that case).
 

hometownmedic5

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Class B s/s shirts, white for medics, light blue for basics, all with patches, collar brass, and name plates. Certain members of the organization, from the top down, elect to adorn their shirts with enough apurtenances so as to be confused with a North Korean general.

Pants are required to be of a straight legged(no bellows pockets) design. Cut pockets are allowed, at the employees expense.

A two season light jacket is the only issued outerwear. In New England. Two sweaters are authorized for individual purchase, at over $100/per. A high visibility, weather appropriate, insulated coat is also authorized for individual purchase, at a total cost of nearly $500. Vests, navy blue in color with company embroidery or plain, are authorized for individual purchase.

Shoes are, at a minimum, required to be black. I’m certain that the management would like to mandate a specific style, but then they would have to purchase them, so footwear is the one area where they have decided to allow us some freedom.

T shirts not company issued are required to be solid colored, blue for MTWThSaSun, red for Friday.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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T shirts not company issued are required to be solid colored, blue for MTWThSaSun, red for Friday.
That's a new one for me.... is there a historical reason behind this?
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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BTW, I don't like any pins or brass on the uniform on any field provider. Maybe admin supervisors can get all dolled up, especially if they have a meeting with important people, but not field staff. Names should be embroidered or sewn on with name tape, collar insignia should be sewn on, even agency badge (if you use them) can be sewn on as a cloth patch. makes things so much easier when you are getting dressed before shift.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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both... typically an undershirt is one color, to ensure uniformity (white for white shirts, other colors for non-white shirts). So if you are going to mandate undershirts, they should all look the same (personally, i think mandating undershirts is overkill, provided there is no billboarding, but that's just me). but never heard of red shirt friday, especially when the other days were blue
 

VFlutter

Flight Nurse
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RED Shirt Friday or Remember Everyone Deployed is commonly to show appreciation and support for the armed forces.
 

Peak

ED/Prehospital Registered Nurse
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We wear whatever we want as long as it looks "professional" so typically I wear a polo, some hiking type pants, any my redwing wildland boots (which btw are amazing and last forever). Our goal is to blend in so we kind of have the opposite goal that most groups have. Our pediatric staff are supposed to wear our hospital stuff if we are doing education, I've never followed this and have never gotten in trouble for it but I do work on both sides.

Back in the fire service we wore class Bs or Cs during the day unless we were working out or training. You could have cargo pants but you couldn't stuff your pockets. Black shoes, blue everything else. The decision to wear Bs or Cs was made by the station crew but everyone had to wear the same thing. The Polos they bought us either were really heavy or got got caught and pulled apart so we typically wore our class Bs.

I think for a fire or 3rd service a class B uniform looks great and is still plenty functional. For privates an embroidered polo looks good and whatever color pants they collectively wear. I don't really care that much about shoes/boots or belts so long as they are black or natural leather. I think that a black sweater, soft shell, or appropriate fleece jacket all look fine.

I've seen countless groups wearing a wide variety of things, and it's pretty hard to make it look bad. I once had a medic bring me a kid wearing uggs, jeggings, and a pink camo jacket; but considering that she was a volunteer in a rural department that responds POV I don't really care; she was very professional otherwise.

My list of personal pet peeves is a bit longer though. I think that privates that wear class Bs are typically a bit much, but way over if they issue badges. Job shirts outside of the fire service look sloppy, and radio straps outside of the fire service is unnecessary, including any fire service staff that permanently staff the ambulances and don't wear turnouts. I hate when people wear shoes that stand out, or brightly colored undershirts. Unless a crew is at an event or otherwise stationed outside ball caps look trashy, and can get way to ricky rescue in a hurry depending on how they are embroidered. I don't need EMT written in 4 different places, I can see that from the rest of your uniform.

I never thought that patches were bad until a certain very large company who in the recent past changed their patches seemed to get their inspiration from paw patrol. Multiple field operations also have their staff wearing badges so it looks even more juvenile. Add in the little Ford transit Van's that they now seem to love and the cartoonish appearance is complete. I'm not really sure how it could look more like a child is in charge of their designs, but I'm sure that they will find a way... maybe they will start using Subaru BRZs for their fly cars.

I'm always amazed at how some departments make such poor uniform choices, especially considering how the majority figure it out and look just fine.
 

StCEMT

Forum Deputy Chief
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A black polo with the company logo and a B, I, or P patch. Made of some kind of synthetic material that's pretty comfortable. Regular EMS style pants. We are given Red Wing boots, but I wear 5.11's. Composite to is the only requirement. We have hats we are given. Right now a buncy of us are wearing black beanies since it's so damn cold and windy at night. Then there are rain jackets and job shirts for crap weather.

We used to do class B's in the winter, but not many people liked them and it was unnecessary in my opinion. What we do currently is much simpler and preferable.

I'm personally not a fan of over complicated uniforms. A simple shirt that breathes well and looks good. Standard pants. Whatever boots are comfortable. Keep it clean and dont smell like a gym bag.
 

Remi

Forum Deputy Chief
Premium Member
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Up top, a synthetic, "tactical style" polo shirt in any color other than white with the agency name or logo on the back, and the employee's name and title on the chest. Pen pockets on the sleeves are useful. Either no visible t-shirt under the polo (with chest hair appropriately trimmed) or a clean synthetic one, with a long-sleeve t-shirt under the polo being acceptable in cold weather. Perhaps a different color polo for supervisors.

On the lower torso, traditional EMS cargo pants (or potentially shorts, in hot weather, especially when posted outside) and sturdy black leather footwear.

For accessories, I'm not a fan of bat-belts and having all sorts of paraphernalia hanging off your body. I don't think it looks good, it potentially gets in the way, and everything you need should be in the bags that you carry to calls. I could take or leave a well-fitting baseball cap.

For winter, a good jacket and black beanie. I don't personally like commando sweaters or turtlenecks. I think job shirts can look good, and are comfortable and functional.

Because comfort and function are as important as appearance, I think class B's are a terrible idea for field staff. They are less comfortable and functional than polos or T-shirts and look much worse if they come untucked for some reason. Also, I think it kind of gives an air of trying to look fancier and more "business" than the role really is. When you are working on an ambulance you are a grunt. Of course we want to look good, but you don't need to look "dressed up" to look professional. Form should follow function. Who else wears a button-up shirt at a job that includes being out in the weather, stocking and cleaning vehicles, getting down on the ground, and frequent bending, lifting, and carrying heavy things?
 

NomadicMedic

EMS Edumacator
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I agree with almost all of this. Unfortunately, my boss doesn’t like polo shirts. He also doesn’t like job shirts. He approved Blauer polo shirts for summertime wear, but they’re heavy and look just like a class B. Not what we had in mind.

If it were my decision, we would wear lightweight, breathable polo shirts with a unique color that make us look as unlike police as possible. Maybe royal blue. I also think that we should get away from navy blue pants. Maybe khaki.

I prefer to have employees comfortable, in a uniform that looks professional, and is immediately recognizable as EMS.

Maybe someday.
 

RocketMedic

Earl of the Wheeled Chair
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I agree with almost all of this. Unfortunately, my boss doesn’t like polo shirts. He also doesn’t like job shirts. He approved Blauer polo shirts for summertime wear, but they’re heavy and look just like a class B. Not what we had in mind.

If it were my decision, we would wear lightweight, breathable polo shirts with a unique color that make us look as unlike police as possible. Maybe royal blue. I also think that we should get away from navy blue pants. Maybe khaki.

I prefer to have employees comfortable, in a uniform that looks professional, and is immediately recognizable as EMS.

Maybe someday.
Khakis stain pretty easily though and don't do a great job of washing. Not so much concerned about bloodstains, but grit and dirt get ground into our clothes pretty regularly and can be a pain to get out of. That's primarily why I prefer darker colors for pants- you don't have to worry as much about fades, creases, wrinkles or whatnot.

ACU-type pants could be something though, if you could find them in a neutral color scheme...
 

NomadicMedic

EMS Edumacator
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Khakis stain pretty easily though and don't do a great job of washing. Not so much concerned about bloodstains, but grit and dirt get ground into our clothes pretty regularly and can be a pain to get out of. That's primarily why I prefer darker colors for pants- you don't have to worry as much about fades, creases, wrinkles or whatnot.

ACU-type pants could be something though, if you could find them in a neutral color scheme...
Maybe that sexy ETMC green.
 

StCEMT

Forum Deputy Chief
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I agree with almost all of this. Unfortunately, my boss doesn’t like polo shirts. He also doesn’t like job shirts. He approved Blauer polo shirts for summertime wear, but they’re heavy and look just like a class B. Not what we had in mind.

If it were my decision, we would wear lightweight, breathable polo shirts with a unique color that make us look as unlike police as possible. Maybe royal blue. I also think that we should get away from navy blue pants. Maybe khaki.

I prefer to have employees comfortable, in a uniform that looks professional, and is immediately recognizable as EMS.

Maybe someday.
I've always hated that mindset. It's not about what you like, it's about what is the best option for the people doing the work. It's such an easy way to make your employees happy and feel like their opinions actually matter.
 

Bullets

Forum Knucklehead
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Who else wears a button-up shirt at a job that includes being out in the weather, stocking and cleaning vehicles, getting down on the ground, and frequent bending, lifting, and carrying heavy things?
Perhaps this is a regional thing, but Police and the paid fire departments in my wear button down shirts. Some PDs have slowly started to switch to outervests but the button down prevails in the vast majority of departments. Also, i agree that it looks more professional, but as someone who regularly interfaces with volunteer BLS, looking slightly more professional than bare feet and a wet swimsuit or t shirts and jeans goes a long way to giving the patient some initial comfort that theres someone on scene who actually know what they are doing.


That said, we currently have a french blue button down with navy ems pants as our primary uniform. I prefer this as the chest pockets allow me a place to store my phone and notepad. We have the option for a blue polo, but it is that performance fabric that i think is not as durable as my button downs thicker cloth. WE also have a regular cotton job shirt and a very nice fleece lined polyester pullover from Blauer. Big 5.11 parka for the snow.

I bring an extra set of bunker pants and boots for when i snows
 
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