It struck me the other day that lots of the people I know would have 'kit' of some type that goes with their role. Classically a doctor has a black bag. Student athletes and gymrats have gymbags. A dancer might have a shoulder bag, a mother a diaper bag and a police officer a heavily loaded belt. I'm wondering: what's in your kitbag?
This is mine:
As you can see, its a standard black SES kitbag, reasonably well stuffed. The first thing to come out of it are my overalls -
These are the standard workwear for an SES member. They're fire retardant and difficult to tear, and acceptable for pretty well any task except boat rescue (of which more in a moment). They're mandatory if you're undertaking road crash rescue. Their chief drawback is that they become a portable sauna in summer, although they're comfortably warm in winter.
Standard wear with the overalls are boots -
The boots are thick soled and made of padded leather, and go to a couple of inches above the ankle. The zipper insert allows them to be done up quicker than laces do. They're well suited to our work because they provide very good ankle support, largely prevent lower leg and foot injuries, and are comfortable to wear for hours at a stretch.
Next to come out of the bag is a lightweight two-piece uniform. It's acceptable for a number of jobs (land searches, roof damage, flood control) and in summer it's more comfortable to wear than overalls. It's also mandatory for people who may be called upon to serve as crew or coxswain on a rescue boat (which is when it'd be worn with light sneakers rather than heavy boots).
Finally (and bulkily), a wet weather jacket. Most of our work takes place in bad weather and so this provides some degree of protection. It includes a polar-fleece insert that makes it very warm to wear in cold conditions.
The bag has a separate section that takes up about 1/3 of its space. I've found that this is the best place to keep my helmet.
This is an unusual piece of gear in a way. The crown is squared off at the front to allow a lamp to be fitted, and the helmet has a slight brim to provide some protection from rain. Interestingly, because there's a space between the kevlar shell and one's head, it's insulated by air and cool to wear in summer. Inside the helment there's also space to keep a P2 facemask (chiefly worn when working near broken glass).
Stored with the helmet are gloves and safety glasses (both clear and shaded).
I carry a couple of pairs of gloves. The orange ones are intended for road rescue and are a combination of synthetic material and leather, and very dextrous. The grey ones are simple leather rigger's gloves which are used for most non-rescue jobs. They protect your hands, but it's impossible to do any fine work while wearing them (even tying a knot is difficult). Part of the reason they're our go-to gloves is price: rescue gloves are about $60/pair; riggers gloves about $10/pair.
In the same pocket is a Holmatro road rescue toolbelt, containing the tools one needs for that part of the job: marker pens (to mark where to cut the car), hooks and levers for prying away the interior trim of the car to expose hazards (like undeployed airbags), a seatbelt cutter and a glass punch (among others).
Finally, in the small end-pocket of the bag are the other odds and ends I carry around with me: an inflatable pillow (sometimes the places we sleep are a little insalubrious!), a small first aid kit, a compass, a whistle (for signalling), a competency log book and spare earplugs.
So there you have it: this is what an SES member carries as part of their kit. What do you have as part of your kit?