What’s a rescue knife? Well, it’s any knife that you use to perform some sort of task that rescues people from trouble. Now, “rescue knives” come in two distinct varieties: all-around utility knives that are good at a wide variety of tasks and are thus good for performing rescue requirements, and rescue-specific knives designed to perform some of the more common rescue needs. Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) makes both kinds, and they have recently introduced their most popular models in each category with high-visibility orange Zytel handles.

001.jpgWhat’s so important about the handle color? Well, the color itself isn’t as important as the brightness or visibility of it, and bright orange and chartreuse (yellow-green) are the standard hi-vis safety colors. Visibility is desirable in a rescue operation because they are chaotic. Professional rescue operations are controlled chaos, and less professional ones are less controlled chaos. This means that stuff gets dropped or tossed aside unconsciously as soon as it’s not needed, and this includes tools—like knives—that the rescuer may well need again in a moment, and will certainly want to recover after the incident. If you have ever been to a car wreck, a disaster site of any kind, or even walked in the woods, you know that dropped tools can disappear easily, and more so in the low light or plain darkness in which many rescue operations take place. That’s why orange handles make sense in a professional rescue knife or tool of any kind. Another reason that orange edged tools are nice to have at emergency scenes is that there are invariably a group of onlookers on scene, most of who think that your 1.5-inch penknife is a deadly assault weapon. When you pull out a real knife to help a victim, you are likely to get shrieks of horror from what are already, to be fair, somewhat traumatized citizens. An orange handle goes a long way towards saying “a professional with a professional tool here.”

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What’s a rescue knife? Well, it’s any knife that you use to perform some…