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  • Writer's pictureSasha

4 Differences between trauma shears and standard scissors

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Trauma shears are a special type of scissors used by paramedics who provide emergency medical attention to wounded victims. They normally have a handle made of plastic and metal like every other pair of scissors does, but the metal blade is angled at 150 degrees. This gives them longer arms compared to standard scissors.

Trauma shears are created for only external usage and therefore are not appropriate for any surgical procedure. They are very durable and can cut through tough material like leather, car seat belts, denim, even including metal and other tough surfaces.

The fastest way to make use of trauma scissors is to cut through hems, bands, and collars of clothing as those parts are usually the toughest of clothing. After cutting, tearing through the rest of the clothing becomes easier. This process will help you to quickly access the wound and give the necessary first aid attention.

In an attempt to remove clothing from a wounded person, do not make use of standard scissors and knives. The trauma scissors were made specifically for this purpose.

The standard scissors are not as tough as the trauma scissors and making use of a knife is not advisable because you can worsen the victim’s injury or cause further injuries to the victim.

Some of the most notable features of the trauma shears which distinguishes them from the standard scissors include the following:

  • Blunted tip:

This is the most important and obvious feature of the trauma shears. When under stress and trying to provide first aid to a victim, it is important to have steady hands. This is the importance of the blunted tip. Even if your hands are not steady enough no added injury can be caused to the victim because the tip of the shears is blunted. So if you accidentally poke the victim with the shears, it would not result in another wound.

  • Serrated Blade:

The serrations on the blade of the shears make it easier to cut through tough materials. Since the type of material going to be faced when using the trauma shears is not exactly known, they are made to cut through very tough material like canvas, jean, and also leather very quickly and effectively. The serrations also help the blades of the shears to remain sharp for a long time, and they can also help the scissors cover a larger surface area.

  • Size:

Besides all above, trauma shears should be 7.5 in in length at least.

  • Angled Blade:

The blades of the trauma shears are angled at 150 degrees, that’s why they are bent. It makes it possible to open the shears at a very wide angle without pushing the lower blade of the shear into the victim’s body. They are designed to minimize the amount of discomfort to the victim when cutting off the clothing at an angle and it helps provide a safer and very efficient cutting tool. The major purpose of the trauma shears is to cut through the materials fast so that the required first aid attention could be given to the victim and help save their lives. If the victim is bleeding severely, the source needs to be found as soon and gently as possible. If the clothing soaks up the blood, it would make finding the source of the bleeding more difficult. It is important to have the shears handy because if the clothing is not removed quickly and medical attention is given, it could lead to other problems. Some other situations that will require the clothing to be cut free include:


When swelling occurs, there is a possibility that the flow of blood could be lost. It is therefore important to access and give medical attention to a swollen area quickly. For example, if a victim has a swollen knee, conventionally removing the clothing around it or pulling the pant leg down might result in more pain for the victim. The clothing will have to be cut free so that it can be attended to. The same goes for a victim who was burnt. This should be done whenever the conventional removal of the clothing is going to cause the victim more pain.

Wet Cloths:

Wet clothes could lower the core temperature of the victim and increase the risk of the victim going into shock. Depending on where the victim is and the weather conditions, the wet clothing might have to be taken off. If the victim is still conscious, then the trauma shears can be used to remove the clothing, but if the victim is unconscious, wounded and under freezing weather, the trauma shears may not be used.

Broken Bones:

Broken bones might just be one of the most painful things that someone can experience. It would be a huge amount of added pain to have to pull a broken limb through a sleeve or a pant leg. This is a situation where the material around the broken part of the body has to be cut off to be able to properly access the injury.

Allergic reaction:

If someone comes in contact with a substance that they have a reaction to, and it has stuck to their clothing, it is most important for whoever the first responder is to separate the victim from the clothing that still carried the substance that the victim is allergic to. In this case, the trauma shears could still come in handy to cut the clothing free.


For some situations, removing the clothing entirely might not be necessary, but when it is, it is important to have the appropriate tool to be able to efficiently aid a victim. Standard scissors cannot cut through the same tough materials at the same level of efficiency as a trauma shear would, and it could also cause another injury to the victim in the process. So it is very important to have the trauma shear for use when need

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