A few weeks back I received a care package from the folks at Rip Shears. Inside was quite the interesting little device, a removable dual blade cutter that can be attached to any standard 7 1/4″ trauma shear. From there you simply start a cut with the shears, then flip and rip. Take a look at this short YouTUBE video from Rip Shears:
This at first had me nervous. Do I really need an open blade on my shears? I wear a pair of shears on my duty and turnout belts and adding something so seemingly dangerous had me concerned I’d be replacing belt loops and turnout straps.
This was not the case at all. I’ll get to the 2 issues I have with the product after I tell you why I’ll always be carrying one with me in the field from now on.
The Rip Shear seems like a simple device and it really is. The fact that it is small and detachable means I can move it from shears to shears as needed instead of some giant device. It also fits nearly perfectly into my existing leather pouch, since the shears fit as well. I don’t wear BDU pants but did have a chance to test the shears snapped into a pair of Perfection pants supplied by Chronicles of EMS uniform supplier ALLMED.
As you can see the gear does not hamper the ability to wear it, but the pocket just barely covers the blade, enough to likely get caught once or twice.
Drawback #1: The blades in the upward position.
When showing this tool around the ambulance yard one morning, one of the EMTs loved it. He removed his regular shears from a lateral behind the back pouch and inserted the military green shears. To show how easily they would deploy he pulled them out, not noticing his shirt got caught, and cut a clean rip in his shirt. From this experience we chose to reverse the blade direction using only a screwdriver and voila, problem solved.
I now carry my own rip shear with the blades oriented down, took 45 seconds to switch. There are no special tools required to remove and replace the Rip Shears, simply use a phillips screwdriver to remove the three screws, remove the blade unit and the guide unit, done. The setup of the screws and hardware allows for the inverting of the blade and for attaching it to almost anything.
This far outweighs a single use tool that does not already incorporate itself into gear you already have. Space in the bags and in my pouch is at a premium these days, so this little guy is more than welcome.
Another early concern was that the open blade would catch a finger. I have to admit I was scared to handle these at first, but as shown in the photo, even little 5 year old fingers are safe from wandering into the blade area on the Rip Shears. Fear not my thin fingered friends, you’re safe.
It took about 3-4 shifts to get used to having the slight extra height on my pouch and I now remove it to sit on furniture at work, mainly to discourage dirty looks when folks realize what’s on there.
The Rip Shear is available in black and a really neat glow-in-the-dark material that has been handy to have on a dark road on a night MVC. Since EMTs can be excitable and use shears only to throw them away, I can easily track down my set and replace the Rip Shear onto another standard shear back at the station.
Drawback #2: The shears provided have a lip on the end too extreme to fit many pouches. Again, easy fix here, just remove it and place it on a pair that does fit. You can order your Rip Shear already attached to a set of shears, the website advises the manufacturer may change, so this may have simply been THAT particular supplier. Yours may be different.
The versatility of this product more than makes up for the out of the box issues we noticed. When using the shears they worked exactly as advertised going through a few pairs of jeans in their time on my shears as well as the leather jacket of a very disagreeable clavicle fracture. They cut like they look like they should. No problems there.
I had hoped to grab an old pair of turnouts and use them to show how well they cut, but recent events here made it seem in poor taste. Perhaps someone out there has an old set they would be willing to donate to Rip Shears?
Made in the USA and designed with Paramedic and EMT input I can’t think of a better addition to your kit for around $15.
Visit their website for more details and links to where to buy your own Rip Shears.