Rescue tool, multi-plier
Photo by Michelle Perin

Driving home from work, I eased my car around the winding curves of a rural road. After coming out of a curve, something caught my eye. Two women were standing on the right-hand side of the road, and one was holding a baby. They were staring down into an embankment, at their blue, four-door sedan, which was up to its windows in the flooded creek. Being a firefighter and a newly licensed EMT, I pulled over eager to help. I reached for my belt knowing I had the rescue tools to supplement my training.

As a first responder, I need the right tools both on and off duty. I had to have a tool to suit two purposes: one for cutting and the other for everything else. Because of this, rescuers benefit from having both a knife as well as a multi-tool. Although there are many well-tested, well-respected fire and rescue options, including models made by Kershaw, CRKT, Buck and Leatherman, I have a Benchmade and a Gerber in my pocket and on my belt.


Rescue tools, pocket knifeRescuers need a knife that is heavy-duty, has the right accessories and is easily utilized with one hand. The Benchmade 916 Triage fit the bill. The knife’s highly corrosion-resistant, N680 steel blade features both a straight and serrated edge for everything from slicing clean, precise cuts to sawing through rope. The 916 hosts a chisel tip. In addition, it has a hook-shaped, 440C steel safety cutter that is great for easily cutting through seatbelts as well as a carbide glass-breaker. It also features a textured G10 handle and an AXIS locking mechanism with an ambidextrous thumb-stud opener. This knife is super easy to flip open and lock with one hand. Its 8.2-inch length and 5.1-ounce weight makes it big enough to get the job done and small enough to be comfortable slipped into a front pocket. Out of all the knives I researched, this one is by far my favorite.


Rescue tool, multi-plierMany times you need more than just a blade. In all the other situations, you need a good, sturdy multi-tool. Again, I researched many models, but settled on the Gerber Diesel Multi-Plier. Along with needle-nose pliers; the Diesel comes with a wire cutter; a partially serrated knife blade; a cross-point screwdriver; small, medium and large flat-blade screwdrivers; a can opener; a bottle opener; a file; a saw; and scissors. A rescuer can find many uses for any and all of these. This multi-tool has fully locked blades and Single-Hand Opening Technology (SHOT). This function is essential. It weighs in at 8.6 ounces and has a closed length of 4.92 inches.

Many quality, American-made knives and multi-tools exist on the market. Many of which are geared towards first responders. You could look at every firefighter’s side and see a different make and model. With the 916 Triage’s limited lifetime warranty and the Diesel’s full lifetime warranty, these two tools will be on my side for a long time.

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