Validated EMS Physical Ability Test

The Avesta Physical Ability Test has been fully validated for ambulance industry jobs. Avesta helps organizations identify candidates who are likely to be a good fit for a job in EMS.

Our content-valid Physical Ability Test was designed to assess a candidate’s ability to perform job-related tasks which require high-endurance and physical skill. The purpose in “validating” a Physical Ability Test is to provide EMS providers with the scientific and legal basis for using Physical Ability Test outcomes as a basis for employment screenings. These test criteria measure abilities such as strength, muscular flexibility, and stamina.

Examples of the test criteria include:
• Muscular Tension – Tasks requiring pushing, pulling, lifting
• Fine Motor Skills – Tasks requiring the individual to perform dexterity and fine motor skills after being physically taxed
• Muscular Endurance – Tasks involving repetitions of excercises (e.g., carrying objects up and down stairs)
• Cardiovascular Endurance Tests – Tasks assessing aerobic capacity
• Flexibility Tests – Tasks where bending, twisting, stretching or reaching of a body segment occurs

The Avesta Physical Ability Test closely replicates actual ambulance industry job tasks. The actual test weights and exercises have been scientifically validated to objectively measure a candidate’s ability to perform the physical demands of the job.

While some PAT may require a third party to administer the assessment, Avesta kept the administration of the process simple. The test can be administered in-house by most EMS agencies. More importantly, the test was validated specifically for clinical care givers employed by the ambulance industry. For example, stamina is measured through a series job-relevant exercises or a simple set of steps.

EMS organizations are turning to a validated Physical Ability Test because employment selection, based on physical abilities, can be very litigious. Legal challenges have arisen over the years because physical ability tests, especially those involving strength and endurance, tend to screen out a disproportionate number of women and people over the age of forty. Therefore, it is crucial to have validity evidence justifying the job-relatedness of physical ability measures.

It is important to note that the use of a pre-employment Physical Ability Test always raises the concern of candidates injuring themselves while performing a physical ability test (e.g., strenuous activity and heavy lifting may result in a back injury or aggravate an existing medical condition). For this reason, Avesta’s PAT includes instructional materials for candidates, educating them about proper lifting techniques prior to the test. In addition, an exercise and conditioning program is provided to help prepare candidates ahead of time, as well as provide a training regimen if re-testing is required. The instructional materials are designed to give candidates opportunities to perform to the best of their ability on the PAT. In addition, comprehensive training materials are provided to the test administrator, to help create and ensure a standardized and fair testing experience for every candidate.

The following EMS organizations funded and provided subject matter experts to the PAT project:

Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc. Huntsville, Alabama: www.hemsi.org
LifeNet EMS Texarkana, Texas: www.lifenetems.org
LifeStar Response Halethorpe, Maryland: www.falck.com/us_emergency/pages/partners.aspx
MedStar Fort Worth, Texas: www.medstar911.org• SeniorCare EMS Bronx New York: www.seniorcareems.com
City Of Hudson EMS Hudson, Ohio: www.hudson.oh.us/index.aspx?NID=98

The following organizations provided expertise and specialized knowledge management to the PAT project:

Fit Responder Charlotte, North Carolina www.fitresponder.com
Experts on public safety and injury prevention. The organization has a focus on EMS fitness, wellness, patient handling ergonomics and injury analysis screenings. Bryan Fass, President

Center for Organizational Research (COR) Akron, Ohio www.uakron.edu/cor/
COR is a consulting center specializing in human resource management, organizational development, and consulting psychology. Dennis Doverspike, Ph.D. Director