Emergency Response may be inherently risky and stressful. Members are required to pass the annual basic fitness test to remain operational (or higher testing if they are pat of the specialist groups.)

Like most emergency response organisations ERT SAR has a duty of care to ensure that the Fitness and Medical standard for members is established, checked and maintained.  Fitness and physical performance is a required standard for all operational members.  

It is  important and if a member fails or does not have a current fitness test - then they cannot be operational and cannot do public duties or events (but they may still be able to attend most training.)

We prefer that all members exercise frequently and can perform well in cardiovascular, muscular endurance / strength and flexibility tests.  In ERT SAR regular “Fitness Training” has become known as “Team Active.” It is specific and focused exercise and training for members to develop ‘task specific’ and personal fitness.

A good level of personal fitness assumes not only the individual's ability to deploy and operate in austere environments during sustained operations and often under some physical stress (such as heat or cold etc) but also to be able to perform functional movements such as lifting team kit onto a transport vehicle to carrying a casualty over distance or running and then performing a rescue under somewhat hazardous conditions.


  • The ERT SAR Fitness Tests should be offered at least 2 to 4 times a year and is valid for one year
  • The Standard Basic Fitness Test (BFT) is the MINIMUM standard for operational members
  • A fitness test can be offered as part of a foundation course (OTC, STC, etc) or offered on its own.
  • Members need to be current and pass the fitness test ANNUALLY to be operational
  • The most recent fitness test is your current standard. If you fail a test during your year - you are not-operational.
  • If you attempt a higher standard (i.e., Specialist) and fail, you may retain your lower standard (BFT) if current.
  • Testing should be performed transparently by two or more senior members who have been taught how
  • A fail can result from many reasons such as unable to complete, unable in time allotted, due to injury, etc.


Under NFPA guidelines, Health and safety / emergency response best practice a medical declaration may also be required for any Operational ERT Search and Rescue members who are

  • Overweight / High BMI  (ideally a BMI of less than 30< unless heavily muscled) Need a BMI calculator? HERE
  • Sedentary members over 50 years,
  • Recovering from any serious illness / injury
  • Suffering from a Medical Condition considered elevated risk
  • Established by Seniors Members / Medical Officer to be in an 'at risk' category

Specialist  “Bonus/Enhanced” Version

This is required to be a Specialist / Medic / Rescuer

(Most Operational Members do this.)
  • Come in closer to 90 minutes
  • “Jog” in many parts & RUN non stop at the end…
  • 20 full press ups* at then end
  • and 1 minute “Dorsal Raise” / 30 sit-ups
  • Pick-a-back carry – 100 feet (or)
  • (NB: Fireman’s carry also accepted)

 * No ‘female’ press ups. Chin to floor. Arms straight at top. Hands under shoulders.



Operational Member basic fitness requirement to join ERT and be a SAR ENGINEER

  • “Traverse 5 miles of open varied terrain 
  • in full uniform and belt kit 
  • including duty boots, 
  • incorporating at least 1 hill walk 
  • and several 'jogs' 
  • (and can be done as part of a NavEx (Navigation Exercise)”_



This is to be done whilst navigating the route, usually using frid references, map, compass, etc. and given as a small team exercise where each team member is given a leg or few, of the route to ‘lead’. 

Time allowed:

120 mins (Closer to 90 mins preferred / expected,)



  • Candidates should not appear to be 'struggling' to do this.
  • Occasionally and the very last bit should be run
  • Candidates should be "ready to ‘go’" at the end. 
  • But this is a fast ‘walk’ NOT a run


  • There will be at least two testers and a transparent process.
  • The start time will be noted and stop watch used.
  • Testers will have a record of the date of the test, type and route
  • Testers will note the names and time completed with any notes.
  • The route does not have to be known to everyone and should be changed periodically.
  • The distance can be measured with a vehicle or a GPS or GoogleEarth or similar and slightly overestimated (10% error)
  • As above the distance should not be 'just' 5 miles but 'Just over 5 miles.'
  • The Testers may also be completing the Fitness test.
  • A safety system such as the need for a safety vehicle, medical kit etc will be considered / assessed.
  • Testers in a Safety Vehicle can 'work in' but are not considered completing the actual test
  • The calisthenics during the fitness (press ups / crunches) should be done but not strictly counted
  • The calisthenics at the end of the fitness (press ups / crunches) should be performed properly and strictly counted
  • Candidates in 'at risk' categories will complete a Medical Declaration and if necessary obtain a Doctors signature.
  • Those with BMIs just over 30 may complete but need to get under 30 to pass the fitness testing.
  • Those with BMIs over 40 or with certain other risk factors may be assessed to not be permitted to complete this testing.

THIS IS THE MINIMUM YOU NEED TO PASS to be an Operational Member. (PREFERRED See enhanced above)

These standards are not considered difficult and have been in place for many many years an allow ERT SAR to recruit and maintain operational members of a good fitness as well as show a legally incumbent Duty of Care as an organisation.

(During the STC and ITC the selected tests must be minimally ENHANCED or preferably higher - International / SAR Tech etc)

International Test


+ Complete the walk by running 100 metre run at end
  • Closer to 90 minutes
  • “Jog” in many parts
  • 20 press ups* at then end
  • and 1 minute “Dorsal Raise”
  • Pick-a-back carry – 100 feet
  • or Fireman’s carry also accepted
  • (Maybe required to perform calisthenics like press ups / star jumps / dorsal raises, etc. on the route.)



  • 4 to 5 mile walk in hilly terrain
  • with 20 – 25 lb grab bag kit
  • Able to walk and carry their tab bag / grab bag distance
  • Lift a 25kg / 50lb weights above their head 6 times





Infrequent drinker

Adopting a regular exercise fitness regime.


As International (left)

Plus a fireman’s carry & arm carry

+ 1.5 mile run in under 15 minutes

(with stops for press ups etc)

(Possibly required to substitute for 20 meter shuttle runs)


200 metre swim +    + Hammer and Tire exercise

10 meters underwater         + Car push 100 meters

Bench press ½ your weight 6 times         

+ Curl Dumbell 8x (Women 25lb / Men 40lbs)

Chin ups (men 6 / Women 3) Body drag 150lb 100 mtrs                 

(All except swim, done sequentially)

Flexibility: Toe Touch / sit and reach and Wall Angel


Body Mass Index

A simple calculation [body weight (kg) / height (M2)] can be performed to determine an individual body mass index (BMI). 

Whilst there are some limitations (people over 60 years old, pregnant women, highly muscular individuals) BMI is widely used as a method of determining health risk due to excess body weight. Weight ranges set by the World Health Organisation suggest:

A BMI of less than 18.4 = underweight.
A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 = ideal weight.
A BMI between 25 and 29.9 = over weight.
A BMI between 30 and 39.9 = obese.
A BMI over 40 = morbidly obese.

Individuals whose BMI is >40 are deemed to be morbidly obese. The definition for this is ‘excess weight a person is carrying could be a significant factor in causing their premature death’.

The Upper level that WILL be assessed is a BMI of 30. (unless heavily muscled and much smaller waist.)  


Waist measurement

Taken to indicate possible increased risk of coronary heart disease. 

If above 102cm for men and 88cm for women, measured in line with the umbullicus. the individual will be above the desired range and at greatly increased risk. It is a factor in overall assessment. Source: National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE); World Health Organisation (WHO).

It should be way lower than this but this is the upper extreme to disallow membership / rescuer activity.

Body Composition (Body fat estimation)

This test identifies percentage body fat levels and is supporting information for the body mass index measurement. The desired range is gender specified <30% for males and <42 % for females. (Source: NIH /WHO guidelines).

Before undertaking a weight loss programme individuals are advised to consult their GP particularly if a long-term health condition is present. Always consult a Doctor if noticeable weight loss or gain occurs without a known reason.

These are upper limits. More information can be referenced HERE

Future Trials

NB: Task specific tests are being added to specialist roles
ERT SAR is experimenting with two new styles of Fitness test for fitter rescuers.

1) A simpler graduated BFT version adjusted for age.
2) An intensive specialists version (below)

INTENSIVE 5 in 30 (mins):
  • 1.5 mile run - no stopping except for press ups and sit ups (<15 mins)
  • 100 meter sprint  
  • 25 press ups
  • 6 to 10 Thrusters 
  • 6 to 10 chin ups
  • 10 squat thrusts / star jumps. 
  • 30 crunches (No rest)
  • Casualty / partner carry and 10 body squats
  • Wall angel, sit and reach / toe touch flexibility

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