Responder Hi-Vis Parka
One of the biggest safety trends in uniformed attire is high-visibility clothing. It wasn't that long ago that the best way to make yourself visible at an auto accident or construction site was your handy flashlight with a colored wand attached to it. The drawback to this was most agencies wear dark uniforms and all that was visible in reduced visibility was the light.
This started to change with some jackets' reflective pull-out panels that identify you as an EMT, Sheriff, Police, etc. Some feel these are shoot-me signs in a hazardous urban area, but since I prefer not to be a hood ornament, when I was on patrol I'd wear them. Now companies such as 5.11 Tactical are offering jackets designed specifically for first responders to keep them safe in daylight or low-light settings.
5.11 Tactical Hi-Vis Parka
5.11 Tactical's Responder Hi-Vis Parka is built to meet ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 standards of visibility and protection. This jacket incorporates high-visibility yellow .75-inch reflective tape on the hem, sleeves, collar, and chest and piping on the sleeves as well as the jacket's yoke. This jacket literally glows in the dark when illuminated by a flashlight or automobile lights. During daylight hours, you can see it from miles away unless the conditions are near whiteout or blackout. I would feel safe directing traffic at any incident in this jacket.
The Responder not only keeps you visible, it will also keep you warm and dry year round, due in part to a zip-out 290-gram two-sided polar fleece liner. It's soft and comfy and zips out to be worn alone (however, it does not have any high-visibility markings). Removing the liner makes the Responder a multi-season parka.
Since many incidents first responders are called to involve bloodborne pathogens, 5.11 built the Responder to be pathogen resistant thanks to Dupont's 10,000mm dot laminated taffeta. The seams of the jacket are heat sealed to ensure this parka remains virtually impervious to rain and liquidborne contamination.
Other features that make the Responder an excellent piece of equipment include elbow-to-hip zippers to vent heat, sleeve pockets, chest storage pocket, lower bellow and hand warmer pockets, chest pockets for small gear, microphone tabs, and slip-resistant inserts on the shoulders. You will also find a zipper area on the back of the parka to allow you to have an identification panel sewn in. For those truly nasty days, there is a collar-stowed removable hood.
Overall, 5.11's Responder Hi-Vis Parka is an excellent piece of clothing. It is warm, protective, and offers incredible visibility. If you are on a beat that includes mostly highway work, I would consider the Responder Hi-Vis Parka as part of your duty kit.
E Flood Light Box
With winter coming on, daylight hours get shorter and night seems to get darker. To bring daylight to the night, auxiliary lighting is required. That means using the headlights of the cruiser, a small flashlight, or in some cases large generator-powered lights. What if you need something that gives you substantial output yet can be carried by one person? Streamlight offers police, EMTs, and others who serve in uniform a solution: the rechargeable E Flood Light Box.
Streamlight E Flood Light Box
This light has a 615-lumen/4,000-candela output for eight hours, or 330 lumens/2,150 candelas for 18 hours. It will literally light up half of a football field.
The E Flood does this using six C4 LEDs with an expected life of 50,000 hours. The battery is rated for 500 charges, which translates to draining the battery daily for over one and a half years. I have one of Streamlight's original Light Boxes and I let the battery drain without charging it for six months, and in eight hours it charged like new. I have used this light numerous times for tracking deer that have been harvested as the light wanes in archery season.
Since I have been able to compare the new LED light versus the incandescent older version of the Light Box, I can say I prefer the new LED. Thanks to the six LEDs and their even spacing in the light head you get a more even and what appears to be a more defined light. This means you get better lighting that allows you to see smaller details and small items. This could help you find small pieces of evidence or find a faint footprint should you be searching for a missing person.
After using the E Flood, you can recharge it in your vehicle or back in the office using a distinctive charging system. The light can be plugged directly into the power cord to charge or hung on its base. You won't find this option on other heavy-duty work lights. The E Flood ships with AC and DC charging units so your E Flood Light Box is ready at all times. Since this is a large light, it comes with a shoulder strap to make it easier to use.
The Streamlight E Flood Light Box, while not a daily use light, is designed to be there when you need more illumination than your handheld flashlight offers. I have found that the Light Box batteries last for years, as do the lamps. This is a light that every agency should have. It bridges the gap between trailer-mounted lights and handheld flashlights.
Scott Smith is a former federal police officer for the Department of Veteran's Affairs who currently serves as a reserve officer and is a contributing editor to POLICE.