What Shoes Are Recommended for EMT / EMS?

Some departments give EMTs an allowance to buy shoes or boots.
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Being an effective Emergency Medical Service technician isn't just about your training and how you use it -- what you wear matters too, right down to your feet. Any distraction, like shoes or boots that don't fit right or don't protect your feet, could affect how well you do your job. Although some employers provide footwear as part of your uniform, others expect you to buy your own. There are a few things to consider before you choose which ones to buy.

Uniform Regulations

    Before you start shopping, check if your employer has any rules on acceptable footwear. If you're studying to become an EMT, your college may also have its own rules. In some cases, you're given broad guidelines, often focusing on what not to wear; in others you may actually have a very limited choice. For example, you may be able to wear boots or shoes with laces or zippers, but not tennis shoes or sneakers. The rules may state that you can only wear black boots.

Make Your Feet Comfortable

    You'll spend a lot of your working life in EMS, walking and even running. The job can be hard on your feet. It'll be a lot easier to get through a shift if your shoes or boots fit right and are comfortable. You'll be miserable if they don't fit, and, although your training will be useful if you have to treat your own blisters, that probably wasn't why you took the job. Plus, ill-fitting shoes may lead to serious long-term problems such as arthritis.

Keep Your Feet Protected

    Your work shoes or boots should protect the top of your feet and your toes. Accidents can happen at scenes -- to you as well as your patients -- and, if your colleagues run a stretcher over your foot or a burly firefighter stands on your toes, you'll be glad of some protection. For these reasons, many employers recommend, or insist, that you wear steel-toed shoes or boots. Typically, you won't be allowed to wear open toed shoes and, in some cases, shoes with soft tops like sneakers.

Keep Your Feet on the Ground

    As an EMT, you could work on calls in all kinds of conditions and environments -- you may have to walk on slippery, rough and wet surfaces. It's important that your shoes or boots grip and don't slip, otherwise your colleagues could end up treating you if you have an accident. Look for sturdy soles with a tread design, for example. It may also be worth thinking about whether to buy footwear with a zipper rather than laces. Untied laces may be a trip hazard, and tying them on an emergency call may waste valuable time.

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