Emergency Responders Are Doing The Tetris Challenge To Show How All Their Gear Fits Together

Screenshot: Youtube

First responders have a lot of equipment on hand to help them do their job and keep people safe. But if you haven’t found yourself in need of professional help from an EMT, a firefighter, a lifeboat crew, or any other emergency service, you might not know just how much is at their disposal. Now, you can.

First responders around the world have been doing the “Tetris Challenge” and laying out their equipment to give the rest of us a sense of just how many pieces of specialized equipment need to be ready in case of emergency.

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The New York Post reports that the first photo of first responders posing with the entire contents of one of their vehicles splayed out around them came from two New Zealand cops, and after two more policemen in Zurich took part a few months ago with a photo of their own, the trend took off. The name originates from the way the pieces of equipment and first responders are arranged alongside one another in tight configurations, just like the bricks in the classic game.

Since then, emergency responders the world over have taken to the internet to share whatever they carry with them to do their jobs. EMTs in Israel have done it. Lifeboat crews in England have done it. Air Force Base guards here in the US have even done it. It’s like the Ice Bucket Challenge but you actually get to learn something about how first responders do their jobs.

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While the challenge (meme? Is this a meme? I should know these things) in its current form is pretty new, the photography style behind the pictures has its roots in Frank Gehry’s studio back in 1987. Design site My Modern Met’s article on the Tetris Challenge explains that the style, which its creator, Andrew Kromelow, dubbed knolling after the functionalist furniture brand Gehry designed for.

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Apparently Kromelow, a janitor at Gehry’s studio, would keep his tools neatly organized at right angles. Tom Sachs, a conceptual artist working as a photographer at the studio, noticed his organizational technique and would eventually bring it to the attention of the art world with his video studio manual ‘Ten Bullets’ back in 2010.

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Now that the technique is back, we get to get a glimpse of the kind of equipment first responders have at their disposal. It’s pretty impressive to see everything that goes into equipping just one patrol car, ambulance or fire engine. In the versions of the challenge I’ve seen so far, it’s fun to try and identify each tool. I’m sure some of you in the comments can help name each one.

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Max Finkel

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.