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At the Heart of the AED Issue

I thought there wasn't a need for this editorial. I thought that doing the right thing would be obvious. But then I started to read more about the issue of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and I was surprised by some of the resistance to purchasing AEDs and putting them in clubs.

Now, I don't believe that any club owner is so cold hearted that he or she wouldn't want to save a life if he or she could. After all, most club owners got into this business to help people. And more than likely, many of you already have AEDs in your clubs — whether mandated to do so or not. However, if you don't have an AED in your facility, two things are probably holding you back: concern about the cost of purchasing an AED (about $2,000) and training your staff to use it, and concern about being sued should your staff not use the AED properly (a liability concern that ultimately comes back to money).

Perhaps it's just that club owners are entrepreneurs who like to do their own thing, and you don't want to be told by the government that you have to do something. Or maybe it's because you don't like that state and local governments have singled out health clubs in their mandates for AED use. Well, let's face it, your members are putting stress on their hearts while working out at your facility. Does it matter that the restaurant owner who serves up fatty and greasy foods isn't required to also have an AED on the premises? No. You as a business owner should be prepared to deal with any situation that may arise regardless of what the business down the street is doing.

It's too bad that someone has to say, ‘Just do the right thing. If you can save a life, then get an AED and make sure your staff is properly trained to use it — damn the expense.’

I'm sure Adam Utz's family would say an AED is worth the expense. Heck, I'm sure Adam would say it, too, since he's alive and well today because of an AED. While playing basketball at a Prairie Life Center facility in Olathe, KS, Adam suffered a heart attack, and the staff used the club's AED on him, saving his life. (Did I mention that Adam is 24 years old? Goes to show that AEDs aren't just for clubs that cater to the 50-plus market.)

Just think, Adam could have been your son, your husband or your brother. If your family member suffered a heart attack in your club (and most of you have family and friends that work out at your club), wouldn't you want the best technology to be available for them?

Sure, no technology is full proof, but by most accounts, AEDs are simple to use and more effective than CPR. Two studies recently found that doctors, nurses and paramedics often perform CPR inadequately. One study found that they failed to follow at least one CPR guideline 80 percent of the time. Considering the rigorous training that these professionals undergo, that finding is astounding. If professionals who make it their job to save lives and who have years of training often can't get CPR right, just think how inadequately your staff may perform CPR despite yearly training.

I guess that's why the whole issue of AEDs seems like a no-brainer to me (See our story on page 32 for more details about the AED issue.). Yes, there are liability issues either way, but if you have an AED on hand that can walk you through every step and you can save a life, then why not do it?

So, are you one of the club owners sitting on the sidelines with your fingers crossed hoping that an AED is never needed in your facility? Or have you taken a proactive stance, bit the bullet, trained your staff and purchased an AED on the chance that someday your preparation could pay off in a life saved?

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