How fit are Paramedics?

Today I had an enlightening conversation with Craig MacCalman, Coordinator, Paramedic Program, Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness at Humber College.

I asked Craig "If I wanted to be a Paramedic, how fit would I need to be?". Craig told me that in his program they prepare students to pass the Ottawa Paramedic Physical Abilities Test (OPPAT).

The OPPAT was developed by Drs. Fischer, MacPhee & Sinden, it is a bona fide occupational test that emphasizes the tasks associated with being a front-line paramedic, including:


  • lifting/lowering of a stretcher (with and without a weighted mannequin);
  • performing CPR;
  • walking a short distance while carrying a backboard with a weighted mannequin in place; and,
  • loading/unloading of the stretcher from an ambulance (with and without a weighted mannequin).

Craig was a Paramedic for 17 years and said it is a physically demanding job.

The OPPAT is effectively a custom Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), that is used in the as part of the pre-hire  and return to work process for Paramedics.

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