Load carriage for emergency responders

Rob Marc Orr, Robert Lockie, Anssi Saari, Tommi Paavola, Dagmar Muhlbauer, Jay Dawes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Search and rescue (SAR) personnel may be required to wear and carry external loads during a task. These external loads may be carried in austere environments across unpredictable terrain. Like other tactical occupations (military, law enforcement, fire, and rescue), SAR loads can range from ≥20 to 45 kg. Not only are these loads known to cause a variety of injuries to the musculoskeletal, integumentary, and neurological systems of the carrier, but these loads are also known to impede task performance and have ultimately led to mission failure. Ensuring personnel are physically capable of carrying external loads on tasks is critical to mitigating these potential risks of injury and performance decrements. Optimal load carriage conditioning, following the known frequency, intensity, time, and type of training formula would see SAR personnel conduct a load carriage specific session every 7 to 14 days, with load weights, walking speeds, and durations akin to those typical of their SAR requirements. The terrain types (inclusive of grade and nature of terrain) should likewise form part of this conditioning process. In addition to load carriage-specific sessions, improving strength (notably relative strength) and aerobic fitness should also optimize the load carriage conditioning of SAR personnel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-480
Number of pages6
JournalStrength and Conditioning Journal
Issue number4
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023


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