By Greg Johnston, EMT
Instructor and retired military-trained cold weather, water search and rescue diver
Welcome all current and prospective EMS professionals. It's that time of year again when we need to start preparing for another season of cold stretches and long shifts. As none of us are getting any younger, we need to make sure our cold weather clothing is functional and loose enough to breathe so we have the ability to work in our profession. Our clothing should not cause us to overheat or suffer injuries from the cold. It's always important to ensure that all layers breath and wick moisture away from your skin. For footwear, choose something with comfort and breath-ability to keep your feet warm and dry in any weather. There are many functional materials available, and depending on how much money you want to spend, all of them can be serviceable.
You should take a look at your logistics and plan ahead. We have every type of area to cover right here in Minnesota, from the hustle of the big city, to the large open spaces of mid-state and the North woods region, which can all create long call times out in the open. You need to take into consideration where you work and what type of calls you could be dispatched to. We are all susceptible to being caught out on a "routine" call that ends up being anything but routine. Make sure you plan ahead, and carry a small bag that contains waterproof and breathable layers to plan for many variables of Minnesota weather.
Remember, we have to ensure that we are able to provide the services expected of us. This starts with making sure we can arrive at the scene and stay till the job is done, not for our first call, but for the second through the last. There is no way to plan for every possibility, as the saying goes, "If you don't like the weather, don't worry. It will change in 5 minutes." If we take some time and common sense, we can prevent most weather-related problems. We are not invincible, but with some planning and preparation, we can do the job with pride and success.