Working in the field of 911 Emergency Communications, or any emergency service for that matter, has an effect on what you consider an “emergency”. It becomes increasingly clear that in today’s world, a large number of people have no idea how to handle anything outside of their normal, everyday routines. Everything from locking themselves out of their apartment to having a broken air conditioner suddenly becomes an emergency simply because they “didn’t know who else to call.” This often results in wasted resources and time for emergency services.

Unfortunately, this often means that when a real emergency occurs, responders are either tied up elsewhere or spread out all over the area. Despite prioritizing life threatening emergencies, delays still occur. As the saying goes, when seconds count, the police (or fire ore rescue) are only minutes away. And as we see every day, when the fecal matter hits the air movement device, the people around are more likely to video it than offer any kind of assistance. This means that we have to be our own first responders.

The first item I carry with me every day is something that many people might not think about as being part of an EDC: a cell phone. Arguably the most important item, modern cell phones are invaluable sources of knowledge and communication. Barring a Hollywood style end of the world scenario, a cell phone is often going to be your quickest method of obtaining assistance when you need it.

Also, thanks to the myriad of apps available today, most smart phones are capable of performing hundreds of tasks ranging from something as simple as being a flashlight to giving you step by step directions to the nearest hospital or police station. Even a deactivated cell phone is required by law to be able to call for emergency services at any time. However, one important thing to remember is that a cell phone does not automatically provide your location so you must be aware of your surroundings and always know where you are even if it is just an intersection or business.

The next item I always have with me that is often overlooked are my keys. Most people have some type of useful item on their keys that they wouldn’t necessarily think of as being an EDC item. I personally like to keep my keys as light as possible but I do have a small tool made by Gerber called the Shard.

Lightweight and handy, the Shard is comprised of a small pry bar, flat head screw driver, Phillip’s head screwdriver, and a bottle opener. Other people have such useful items as mini flashlights, knives, lighters, and paracord key chains. These items are small, cheap, and can extremely useful when the need arises.

911 EDC
LEFT to RIGHT: Keys with Gerber Shard, Leatherman Skeletool, Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA, Zebra F-402 Pen, Iphone 6 with Otterbox

Many people keep a flashlight at home, in their car, or at their place of work but it is becoming more common for people to rely on their phones as a flashlight. While certainly useful, trusting a cell phone as your only source of light could be problematic.

Women often keep their phone in their purse where it could be lost when needed quickly. Or what if you need to call for assistance but you also need a source of light at the same time? What if you are in a situation where you need to save your phone battery because you do not have an immediate way to recharge it but you also need light? It is situations like those that are the reason I carry a small flashlight every day.

I prefer lights that are capable of using commonly available batteries like AA and AAA and also give me the ability to switch between different modes of brightness. My current EDC light is the Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA. Small, lightweight and affordable, the 1L-1AA uses a CR123 battery but is also capable of using standard AA batteries.  Thanks to Streamlight’s Ten Tap technology, I have mine programmed to be able to easily switch between Hi and Low modes.

Another useful tool I always have on my person is some form of multi-tool. Multi-tools come in hundreds of configurations and sizes, allowing a person to choose whatever fits their needs best. For decades the Boy Scouts of America have used the tried and true Swiss Army knife and hundreds if not thousands of soldiers across the globe can tell you stories of using their multi-tool while deployed.  My personal choice is the Leatherman Skeletool  which offers many of the same features as larger multi-tools tools but is lighter and more pocket friendly. I find myself using it or loaning it to a co-worker almost daily.

Depending on where you are in the world, the next item will either be very common or nearly unheard of. Growing up in the Southeastern portion of the United States, pocket knives were a part of everyday life. My grandfather, my uncles, my cousins, and many others all carried a pocket knife on a daily basis. I began carrying one at a young age and it became a habit very quickly. In other parts of the country and the world, carrying even the smallest of pocket knives would be seen as strange or even illegal.

When choosing a knife to carry, always be sure to check your local laws first. Restrictions on type, blade length, and opening mechanism vary from place to place and you always want to stay within the boundaries of your local laws.  The state where I live has a blade length limit of 3.5 inches and certain cities also have bans on automatic knives. Based on this, I have a few different knives that I tend to rotate through made by Kershaw, Benchmade, and Steel Will. Each has a blade between 3 and 3.5 inches and some form of quick open mechanism. There are thousands of knives on the market today and as long as you stick with a quality manufacturer, you really cannot go wrong.

911 EDC
TOP to BOTTOM: Benchmade Mini Griptilian, Kershaw/Emerson CQC-5K, and Steel Will Cutjack

Thankfully, I live in a state which recognizes the importance of the 2nd Amendment. For those of you who live in a state or country which does not allow the carrying of a firearm, I advise you to either look into moving to somewhere which does or looking into other legal means to protect yourself.  In the warmer months I carry a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 2.0 in 9mm and in the colder months I opt for a Smith and Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact in 9mm.

I choose to carry a spare magazine with both because the majority of malfunctions with a semi-automatic handgun are caused by the magazine. The Shield rides inside the waistband in a holster made by Comp-Tac to which I have modified to allow for a full firing grip. The M&P Compact rides in an IWB holster from LAG Tactical. If choosing to carry a firearm, remember to purchase a quality gun belt. Depending on my attire, I use either an EDC belt made by Blue Alpha Gear or a black leather belt made by DeSantis.

911 EDC
LEFT to RIGHT: Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0 in a Comp-Tac IWB holster, Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 Compact in an LAG Tactical IWB holster

These are just the items that I choose to carry on my person based upon my own experiences and perceived needs. Each person must decide for themselves what they may need based on their own perceptions and lives. There is no right or wrong EDC regardless of what some people may say.

Choose what you are comfortable with and never be afraid to experiment with your EDC until you find what works for you. As an end note, I will state that I strongly believe everyone should carry some form of first aid equipment with them. It is not included in this article however because I choose to carry it in a backpack that I always keep with me rather than on my person, so it will be covered in a separate article later on.

All Photos Property of Author

By Bryan Patten

“Originally hailing from the backwoods of Georgia, Bryan Patten is currently a Senior Supervisor for a 911 Center in the Midwest. With a background in private security, he is a student of handgun combatives and self-defense. Bryan’s focus is on training and techniques for the everyday person and those new to the world of firearms. In his off time he also enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.”