Why is a new best practice standard necessary?

In 2013, through an arbitration on physical employment testing in the paramedic sector, Union (CUPE local 503)  and Management reached a Minutes of Settlement agreement resolving that static strength testing could not be included within paramedic-based physical employment test. 

“Many of the medics forced to submit to the {previous protocol} found it difficult to complete and highly unrealistic…several veteran paramedics either failed or were injured while completing the test.”

Source: James Watson, Vice President CUPE 503, Ottawa Sun, July 28, 2013.

A best practice standard should…

  • have a strong evidence-base;
  • be legally defensible;
  • be based on the best practice template emerging from the seminal 1999 Meiorin Supreme Court Case;
  • use job-specific simulation; and,
  • be easily implemented.

The Ottawa Paramedic Physical Ability Test (OPPATTM) was designed by academic researchers as an evidence-based, job specific simulation to test the physical ability required to meet the demands of paramedic work.

Research and Development Process

The test is based on a five step process:

oapc r and d 459x500 - Research and Development


Coffey, B., MacPhee, R.S., Socha, D., & Fischer, S.L. (2016). A physical demands description of paramedic work in Canada. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 53, 355-362. 

Morales, L., McEachern, B.M., MacPhee, R.S. & Fischer, S.L. (2016). Patient acuity as a determinant of paramedics’ frequency of being exposed to physically demanding work activities. Applied Ergonomics, 56, 187-193.

Fischer, S.L., Sinden, K.S., MacPhee, R.S. and the Ottawa Paramedic Service Research Team. Identifying the critical physical demanding tasks of
paramedic work: towards the development of a physical employment standard. Applied Ergonomics, 2017.

To find out more contact the Research Team