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SAR personnel may often be required to carry external loads as a task requirement. In turn these external loads may be carried in extreme environments across unpredictable terrain. In tactical occupations, like those undertaken by Defence Force, law enforcement and fire and rescue personnel, these loads, which can range from 10 to over 50kg, are known to cause a variety of injuries to the neurological and musculoskeletal systems of the carrier. In addition, these loads are known to impede task performance and in some cases have ultimately led to mission failure. To mitigate these potential risks of injury and performance decrement, optimised load carriage conditioning and training is vital to underpin the physical capability and task performance of SAR personnel. Through review of recent research that our research unit and others have conducted on this topic, this session will explore the impacts of load weight and more importantly risk enhancing factors (like terrain and speed) on load carriage capability. In addition, specific attention will be given to the impacts of load placement (e.g. backpack versus shoulder versus hands) on SAR personnel and factors to consider when determining load placement around the body.
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