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How to buy police medical supplies

By Greg Friese

Medical supplies are the broad range of supplies law enforcement professionals use to assess and treat themselves, other officers, and patients. Because most law enforcement medical care is focused on first response, medical supplies should be focused on life saving interventions and stabilization of life threatening problems until EMS arrives.

Other assessment tools, like a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff can be added if additional assessment is appropriate to the patient problem, the time available, and the officer’s level of medical training.

When purchasing medical supplies consider these things:

1. Officer level of medical training. Only equip officers with equipment they are trained and authorized to use. The minimal interventions an officer, acting as a medical first responder, should be expected to provide that requires equipment includes oxygen administration and the control of severe bleeding. Because of their distribution in the community and short response times AEDs are an ideal medical supply for police officers.

2. Decide between a pre-packed or custom first aid kit. If officers will be infrequently using first aid kit contents or need specialized equipment for high risk situations, like tactical operations, a pre-packaged first aid kit may be best. If officers are frequently assessing and treating patients as medical first responders a jump kit that can be quickly resupplied from the ambulance or at shift change might be a better solution.

3. Supply sharing with local EMS. When responding with local EMS they may be able to assist with initial provision and resupply of police officer first aid kits. For example, the responding ambulance might able to replace a used nasal cannula or exchange oxygen tanks when patient care is transferred.

4. Preferred pricing or discounting for buying as many supplies as possible from a single vendor. Some vendors carry everything from airway tools to zip-up first aid bags. A single vendor may make purchase orders, invoicing, and payment easier and save your organization time and money.

5. Membership or association discounts. Some regional, state, and national law enforcement industry associations have negotiated purchasing agreements for their members with medical product suppliers. Ask the organizations you belong to about preferred vendors.

Finally, attend industry events and as regional trade shows. Visit with medical supply vendors to learn about current and upcoming products. Many vendors provide hands-on training demonstrations to help ensure that you are using medical supplies as effectively as possible for patient assessment, treatment, and transport.

Conclusion: Any other suggestions for purchasing medical supplies? What types of medical supply vendors have worked well for your agency? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or email with your feedback.

Greg Friese is an e-learning designer, blogger, podcaster, author, presenter, and paramedic. Read more from him on his Everyday EMS Products featured column or at the blog. Submit article or tip ideas to Greg by e-mailing him at Connect with Greg at or

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