n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - Physical performance characteristics of South African male and female Emergency Care students (ECS)




The physical capacity of emergency care practitioners (ECPs) plays a key role in their ability to carry out rescue and life-saving duties. Irrespective of the emergency scenario males and females are expected to be able to do the same tasks. This study assessed the differences in physical work capacity of male and female emergency care students (ECSs). Twenty males and 18 female students participated in the study. All mean anthropometric and physiological values between males and females were significantly different (p<0.05) with the exception of BMI, while in the performance assessments the females only outperformed males in sit-ups. In terms of cardio-respiratory measures the females demonstrated a congruency ratio of 76.21 compared to males, more specifically relative VO max (ml.kg.min-1) males = 47.91 (±7.76) versus females = 37.26 (±6.85). Males were significantly stronger than females (p<0.01) in all measured strength parameters and females achieved a congruency ratio of 64.03 compared to males. In conclusion these findings demonstrate that the mean performance characteristics of male and female ECS are significantly different. Exercise and conditioning intervention strategies need to be considered and implemented to ensure, where possible, that applicants are able to achieve the minimum physiological, fitness and strength profiles that enable them to competently execute their emergency care work.


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