Which Gloves Do First Responders Prefer?

Ask GIA Blog

Glove Intelligent Assistant

In moments of crisis, First Responders and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel (like their titles suggest) are usually those who end up providing first aid or emergency medical care on site before more advanced providers are available. Just like other medical practitioners, they require hand protection when performing on the clock.

What are some of the criteria that first responders and EMS personnel look for in gloves?

It is important to minimize health risks as first responders/EMS personnel can come into contact with various bodily fluids or disease causing microorganisms. The gloves they use must be disposable to minimize the spread of many pathogens. First responders/EMS providers primarily use nitrile gloves due to the possibility of latex allergies, as Medscape reports 1-5% of the general population are susceptible to latex allergies. While latex is a more form fitting and elastic material, it can cause life threatening allergic reactions such as anaphylactic shock along with contact dermatitis (skin irritation). Nitrile is the next best alternative to latex and conveniently has a longer shelf life than latex gloves. The material is comparable in comfort and dexterity with latex too. Nitrile is also more resistant to puncture than latex, able to tolerate higher temperature environments, and is more resistant to chemical solvents.

When talking about chemical protection, the most prevalent topic in today’s world is the fentanyl crisis or opioid crisis. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which can be used as an anesthetic. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns the substance is 100 times more potent than heroin. They estimate that there were over 81,000 cases of drug overdose in 2020. It is often mixed into other illicit drugs, most frequently heroin, to increase the potency. While illegally synthesized fentanyl is more dangerous, the widespread prescription abuse of pharmaceutical fentanyl is an ever prevalent issue as well. Fentanyl can easily be absorbed through skin contact, oral inhalation, or ingestion. Skin exposure to powdered or dry forms of fentanyl is not likely to cause overdoses in small amounts if promptly removed. Liquid or highly concentrated fentanyl can be absorbed rapidly via skin contact and can be extremely fatal. Therefore, it is even more important that first responders/EMS providers have proper hand protection in the possible case of absorption through skin contact.


Which SW gloves offer adequate protection for first responders/EMS personnel?

SW offers many different disposable nitrile gloves. We offer three that specifically cater to the needs of first responders/EMS providers that were touched upon in the previous sections of this blog post. These would be our PowerForm Nitrile Exam Gloves with EnerGel®, EcoTek® and Breach Alert® (PF-95GW), PowerForm Nitrile Exam Gloves with DriTek® and EcoTek® (PF-95GY), and our MegaMan Nitrile Exam Gloves with DriTek® and EcoTek® (MM-11BK) gloves. First and foremost, all three of these gloves are fentanyl resistant and contain SW’s EcoTek technology. The fentanyl resistant label is certified through rigorous clinical testing, following the American Society of Testing and Materials’ (ASTM) D6978 Standard Practice for Assessment of Resistance of Medical Gloves to Permeation by Chemotherapy Drugs. The tests have determined the gloves to be resistant up to 4 hours and were also tested against simulated gastric acid. They all have FDA 501(k) clearance and are NFPA 1999 certified, following the strict protocols of both institutions.


However, what’s the difference between the three different series of gloves?

PF-95GW gloves contain SW’s BreachAlert and EnerGel technology. EnerGel hydrates and soothes the skin, allowing for more comfort throughout the day. Especially for first responders/EMS providers as they wear multiple pairs of gloves daily. In the environment where changing gloves may inhibit the spread of pathogens, BreachAlert is an innovative design involving dual color breach detection. The dual layer provides extra durability and safety.

PF-95GY gloves contain SW’s DriTek technology. Its flock-lined system retains less moisture for drier, cooler, more comfortable hands. DriTek naturally manages sweat for healthier hands making for easy donning and doffing. Wetness in single use gloves is not only uncomfortable but it limits a user’s mobility, dexterity, and tactility. Not to mention it may further lead to other safety hazards, such as when workers forgo gloves due to irritability from hand sweat accumulation. Outstandingly, PF-95GY gloves were recently awarded as the Gold winner in the Occupational Health & Safety Industrial Hygiene Awards, solidifying its place as an industry standard for industrial hygiene.

MM-11BK gloves contain DriTek technology but last 3x longer, with ANSI and EN Level 3 abrasion resistance. Its fully textured surface delivers excellent grip, and a beaded cuff allows for easy donning and doffing.

These will be SW ’s top 3 featured gloves in the EMS trade show next week!