The number one killer in America is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), which kills more than 400,000 people each year. It can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time, and in most cases, without warning. Without treatment, victims have only minutes to live. With quick response, this condition is readily treatable with survival rates well over 50 percent. Unfortunately, most of the time, the necessary life-saving equipment does not arrive in time. As a result, typical survival rates are only 2 percent to 5 percent.
The goal of fitness facilities is to help improve health and fitness among the population, but to do so, health club members intentionally push their bodies to the limits of physical exertion on a regular basis. Because cardiac arrest rarely displays any warning signs and affects all ages and levels of fitness, no one is truly 100 percent safe from this incredible danger.
SCA is caused by chaotic electrical activity in the heart and can only be treated with an electric shock called defibrillation. Recent advances in modern technology, along with legislative support from federal and state governments, have made a solution available to the public. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are this life-saving solution. With a well-trained staff, fitness facilities with AEDs can respond extremely quickly to cases of SCA. Cost for AEDs usually run between $1,200 to $1,500 per unit. Training can be obtained through the American Heart Association.
California recently passed State Bill SB 127 (section 104113), which requires indoor physical fitness facilities to have at least one automated external defibrillator (AED) on the facility premises and to have a trained AED user on staff. Thirteen other states currently have AED legislation or pending legislation in place that requires AEDs to be placed inside physical fitness facilities.
You may be asking whether you or your facility can get in trouble for not having an AED on the premises. Even in states that require that health clubs have AEDs, the likelihood that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will come into your facility and check for an AED is small. However, the danger occurs if a member of the club has a medical emergency, paramedics are called but do not arrive in time, and the member does not survive. In that case, liability costs to the club owner could be monumental.
The advantages of having an AED in your facility are that it:
1. Can lower your insurance premiums
2. Protects your employees, members and guests
3. Protects your health club concerning liability issues
4. Is simple and easy to use
5. Is cost-effective for tight budgets
6. Has a low life-cycle cost of ownership
7. Is low maintenance
8. Is light, compact and self-contained for easy storage and deployment
9. Is durable and reliable
All you need to do to build an AED program in your club is to purchase an AED that meets your facility’s needs and requirements. Then, train your employees in CPR and AED use. By having an AED, your club can lead the charge with the best defense against the life-threatening condition of SCA.
Scott Lehnkering is president of A Hero for Life. He can be contacted at 949-481-2578, or by email at [email protected]