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Preparation, certification can save lives at your club

In his little more than a decade at Desoto Athletic Clubs in Southaven, Miss., David Creech has seen two members die while working out. Neither could have been avoided as an aneurysm in the brain and heart attack were the causes. 

Recently another member was working lat pull-downs when he fell down and his heart stopped beating. He lived, thankfully. 

The reason the survivor was able to make his way back to the club, at a much later date, was the fact that an AED – automated external defibrillator – was on site. 

“We have 25,000 people come through our club per month exercising at strenuous levels,” said Creech, president of Operations at the family-owned group of clubs in Mississippi and Tennessee. “Once they became available we got one.” 

Currently only 10 states require having an AED on site, but owners in other states still have them hanging on the wall as a way of ensuring the safety of their members. 

Shana Martin, Fitness director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Madison, Wisc., said about 10 years ago her club required all staff to be certified in CPR and on the AED. It certainly has paid off. 

“Literally in last year we’ve had two … incidents,” she said. “Because of our fast response and wonderful training, both (members) pulled through. Those situations definitely verified the necessity that all staff be certified (in CPR and on AED) and aware of where the defibrillators are and the protocols during these circumstances.” 

Scott Gillespie, president of Saco Sport & Fitness in Saco, Maine, also recently had an incident. 

An employee was working out during his off-hours when he had a heart-related incident. As his staff is trained, the first order of business was to call 911 – “We are not EMTs or paramedics. The first thing we need to do is get emergency personnel on the line.” 

What Gillespie and his staff learned, at least in Maine, is that the 911 operator does not automatically send an ambulance or emergency personnel at the first mention of “heart attack.” 

“We learned during this process that most 911 operators do not have the decision-making ability to (automatically) dispatch an ambulance. 911 operators are now required by law to ask a series of questions. And they can take up to four minutes before they dispatch.” 

Gillespie explained that some of the questions required the person on the phone to be next to the patient. That has led Saco Sport & Fitness to buy cordless phones in order to be mobile. 

Lisa Bracken, director of Activities at Brenda Athletic Club in Modesto, Calif., said all staff is required to be certified. They hold safety meetings every quarter where new procedures are discussed; every six months scenarios are drawn up to see how staff reacts. 



Reader Comments (1)

I'm glad to see this article highlighting the importance of not only having AED's in Health & Athletic facilities, but the importance of an overall, comprehensive plan. I have been working with Clubs for the past 10 years on develpoment and implementation of Emergency Response Plans. Its not a matter of IF but WHEN will it happen to you. Its important to be prepared!!
December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Anderson

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