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Be Prepared

Be Prepared

What you should know in case of an emergency

We should all follow the Boy Scout's motto when it comes to handling emergencies. But do we? Do you have policies and procedures in place for fire, theft or a medical emergency?

To be able to act appropriately, employees need to know what to do when something goes wrong. Therefore, emergency response should be part of your policy and procedure manual. The manual should explain how to deal with every kind of emergency.

Here are some suggestions on how you can keep your staff prepared, and your staff and members safe:


  • Introduce your club to local fire officials. Since your policies and procedures for handling a fire need to be based on the local fire codes, get in touch with the fire department, notes Stephen Black, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Human Performance in Boulder, Colo. The fire department will inform you of the codes in regards to fire extinguishers, emergency evacuation signs and equipment maintenance.

  • Form a fire committee. According to Black, the committee's job would be to meet with local fire department personnel and police, give a tour of the facility and get procedural recommendations for reacting to a fire.

    “By touring your facility, the fire department will know where the tight areas are to get people and equipment in and out of, where the electrical panels are, the location of the boiler room, etc.,” he says. “This will quicken the response in getting the fire under control, which will reduce the damage to property, and injury to staff and members.”

  • Run drills. Pam Stoike, manager of fitness and racquet sports at Courts Plus in Elmhurst, Ill., believes it's essential to conduct fire drills. Ideally you should involve your members in your fire drills, but most people won't look kindly on an interruption to their workouts. It's best then to run the drills after hours or during slow periods.

  • Educate and review. Courts Plus employees go over the emergency policies and procedures during their biannual all-staff meetings, and they review specific emergency drills during their department meetings that occur six times a year.


  • Meet with local law enforcement. Black and Stoike both recommend having members of your local police department come to a staff meeting to give advice on how to spot suspicious behavior, and how to limit and control the number of entrances and exits available.

    “People often come in and case a facility before they steal anything,” states Black. “If it's too difficult for them, because there is only one way in and out of the facility, they won't bother.”

  • Empower your staff. Theft occurs in almost every establishment, notes Stoike, so encourage your staff to call the police if they feel a situation warrants alerting the authorities.

  • Enforce check-in and check-out. To lower your theft occurrences, you should have all members sign in and out, notes Stoike. This keeps control over who enters your facility, and, if a crime does occur, you have a log of who was in your facility.

  • Install a camera. While Courts Plus has cameras in certain hallways, the facility may put a surveillance camera in at the front desk to record everyone who enters and leaves the facility. Although cameras require money, monitoring and maintenance, they are important in some clubs for member and staff safety.

  • Don't forget about your signage. On the liability side, Black recommends that you provide enough appropriate and visible signs that outline your club's theft policy, such as the club not being responsible for stolen items in the locker room. If something is stolen, however, it is important for insurance purposes to have the police come and file a report.


  • Update your first aid kits. One of the key issues in medical emergencies is to give immediate care. That's why a club must have visible and numerous first aid kits. The kits also need to be checked on a monthly basis to make sure they are stocked with the appropriate items.

  • Train employees. “We do a lot of safety training here at our facility,” notes Stoike. “We strive for more than 90 percent of our staff to be CPR and AED [certified].”

    Key personnel like managers absolutely must be trained and certified. However, don't overlook your staff's certification, Black warns. While medical emergencies don't happen every day, your staff should be required to keep their certification current.

  • Practice makes perfect. During staff meetings, Stoike's club often runs drills on how to handle everything from a sprained ankle to sudden cardiac arrest. If your staff members practice enough, they will be able to remain calm and handle an emergency appropriately.

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