Serious physical trauma is always a possibility in most industrial workplaces, and the decks of ships and workboats are no exception. Conventional tugs and towboats, anchor-handling tug/supply vessels and commercial fishing vessels, are full of machinery and deck equipment that can snare the unwary or unlucky. Lines can part anywhere at any time. Are you ready, at least equipment-wise, to deal with it?

I place a very high value on well-designed, well-made, and above all, reliable tools for emergency use. In the event of a major trauma incident having a rock-solid pair of trauma shears should be a high priority. Some are better than others but those typically included in many pre-stocked first aid kits are often just low-end junk.

Trauma shears need to be able to quickly cut through heavy workwear, including thick boot leather or rubber. When you’re removing clothing from an injury so you can assess it and do what is needed is not the time to find out that your cheap shears just twist and get bound up trying to go through the heavy duck canvas of someone’s Carhartt workwear.

My favorite shears are from XShear ( The shears are stoutly built, made of thick 420 stainless steel, and include a heavy adjustable center bolt. The trauma shears have smooth contours, and they grab and cut through anything quickly thanks to a micro-serrated lower blade. At $36 to $40 they are reasonably priced, and holsters are available. XShear even offers free resharpening services. An extra pair or two are handy to have around as general-purpose shop tools.

XShear heavy-duty trauma shears are single purpose, great at what they do, and are popular with a variety of medical professionals. Another type of trauma shear that is popular for field use by EMTs and paramedics is the Raptor Rescue from Leatherman Tool Group. At $100 they are a bit pricey, but these U.S.-made, folding multitool shears are just superb in every way. They make a worthy addition for those who wish to be prepared.

Joel Milton works on towing vessels. He can be reached at [email protected].