A crash cart is one of the most important pieces of equipment in a medical facility. It is a portable trolley with a set of drawers that medical professionals use to store and transport medical supplies in the emergency room when attending to patients who require emergency attention.

However, the items stored in a crash cart vary among emergency care facilities, depending on the type of patients being served. For example, a crash cart designed to take care of pediatric patients will have different medical supplies in them from what is found in a crash cart meant for adult patients.

But even though the contents inside these carts may be different, all crash carts serve the same purpose. Therefore, the most important thing is to know how crash carts work. This article tells you everything you need to know to use your crash cart properly.

Who Needs A Crash Cart?

According to the ACLS Training Center, any medical facility that handles patients with serious medical conditions that can easily deteriorate needs to have a crash cart. In fact, certain medical facilities are required by state law to have a crash cart. Other facilities that are recommended to have this medical cart include crash cart locations like emergency rooms, urgent care centers, surgery centers, and certain diagnostic testing centers like cardiac stress testing centers.

How To Arrange A Crash Cart

Although the primary role of a crash cart is to transport medical supplies needed by doctors and nurses to handle an emergency medical situation, you need to make sure that your crash cart is carefully organized. Remember that the contents carried in a crash cart save lives. Therefore, everything should be readily accessible so that the doctor or nurse doesn’t waste even a second trying to find a life-saving device or medicine.

To improve the accessibility of items in your crash cart, label every drawer clearly, indicating the contents inside. For instance, if the drawer holds gloves, make sure it is shown clearly on the label. Each drawer should be customized to suit the doctor’s or nurse’s needs. This means that each drawer should have compartments or dividers that allow your medical professionals to arrange their items in a way that makes their work easy.

When you are arranging a crash cart, you need to organize your medical supplies in the order of their frequency of use and according to the space available. Here is a simple and effective way to arrange your crash cart.

Top, Sides, and Rear

When the central supply packs everything in the crash cart, they will leave a checklist on the top of the cart for your nurses to verify that everything is on the cart. They will also place ACLS, CPR algorithm cards, PALS, and the sheet to record the patient’s data and vital signs. Normally, the top of the crash cart will have a heart monitor and a heart defibrillator. It can also carry a blood glucose meter and an airway box with intubating supplies in case the patient needs an advanced airway.  

Other important medical supplies that should be placed at the top, side, and rear parts of a crash cart include defibrillator pads, a filled oxygen tank, CPR board, removable suction device, stethoscope, and sharps bin. You can also hang the IV fluid bags from the back of your crash cart.

First Drawer

The topmost drawer should carry the airway tray where you keep your airway management devices and gear, including endotracheal tubes, nasal devices, air masks, syringes, silicone spray, blades, among others.

Second Drawer

The second drawer from the top should carry several pre-dripped mixes containing medications, such as adenosine, atropine, calcium chloride, dextrose, amiodarone, dopamine, lidocaine, Narcan, vasopressin, epinephrine, and sodium bicarb. These drugs are essential for treating patients that are in serious distress.

Third Drawer

The third drawer of your crash cart should carry all the necessary IV access supplies to go together with the IV fluids in the second drawer. Make sure this drawer has enough catheters, syringes, chambers, needles, adhesive tapes, drip lines, and clamps to start and retain an IV.  

Fourth Drawer

Store your suctions and blood pressure cuffs in the fourth drawer. You can also keep your flashlight to check the patient’s pupils and offer emergency lighting in the fourth drawer.  

Fifth Drawer

The fifth drawer should hold central line kits, cricothyrotomy kits, anesthesia bags, drugs sealed and stocked by the central supply, and extra fluids.


Once your crash cart is depleted, take it to the central supply for refilling and inventorying. Ultimately, a crash cart should ensure that your medical professionals have all the critical items needed to provide immediate care during a life-threatening incident. Also, only buy your crash carts and any other medical cart from a reputable and trusted brand like Waterloo if you want them to serve you effectively and for a long time.