August 19, 2013

Looking for AEDs in All the Right Places

Sometimes it really is all about location, location, location. Take facilities that offer PADs (public access defibrillators) for example.

Fitness ClubAn excellent public venue in which to provide an automated external defibrillator (AED) is a fitness club. Many states require these clubs and gyms to do so by law, and it’s right they should. Fitness facilities attract people from all walks of life, spanning generations of ages and running the whole gamut of fitness levels.  What better place to make sure these easy-to-use lifesavers (and trained staff to use them) are available?

At HSI, we have a special fondness for the fitness club setting. In 1976, when a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) incident struck a patron at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Oregon, MEDIC First Aid founders Maryl Barker and Peder Heineman took an important step towards reducing the risk of another incident.

Working with Buck Ambulance Service, the athletic club developed an emergency medical plan that included CPR and first aid training for the staff. Eventually a defibrillator, oxygen tank, and advanced medical kit were also purchased for the club.

The goal of the plan was simple: to teach staff how to respond quickly and accurately to a medical emergency. Barker and Heineman were inspired by their success with the athletic club and formed a consulting firm to work with other interested businesses in developing and implementing similar plans. Together they created the first MEDIC First Aid program. 

In addition to traditional gyms and fitness clubs, we shouldn’t forget about those venues dedicated to fitness activities that go beyond the elliptical and the weight bench. Ice arenas for the weekend hockey warrior, martial arts dojos, dance studios: patrons of these establishments are there to do physical activity, which can be the catalyst that sparks an SCA incident from an underlying and previously undetected medical condition.

Just last week, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation shared a Yahoo Sports article about a 16-year-old young man who collapsed while skating at his first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League camp. As our regular readers know, sudden cardiac arrest is no respecter of age, and sadly, the young hockey player did not survive.

A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that these non-fitness-club exercise arenas experience a higher rate of SCA than traditional gyms.

The study’s lead author Dr. Richard Page, chair of the department of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, gives legislators some food for thought in an article on the SCA Foundation website:

AEDs in public places"You've got higher site incidence at those three areas [indoor tennis facilities, ice arenas and bowling alleys in and around Seattle]. That's kind of interesting. If we're legislating AEDs to traditional fitness clubs, shouldn't they be legislated to the others?"

Whether at an alternative venue or a traditional gym, AEDs in places where people exercise have a good track record for saving lives. A webpage about the study on the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health sums up the research:

“Location of the sudden cardiac arrest was categorized as a traditional exercise facility (health clubs, fitness centers), an alternative exercise facility (bowling alleys, workplace or hotel gyms, dance studio) or a non-exercise facility (banks, restaurants, shopping centers, airports).

In total, 52 sudden cardiac arrests occurred at traditional exercise facilities, 84 at alternative exercise facilities and 713 at non-exercise facilities. Survival rates were 56 percent, 45 percent and 34 percent, respectively. Where information was available on the activity at the time of arrest, in 77 percent of cases the sudden cardiac arrest occurred during exercise, with only 18 percent occurring after exercise and four percent before exercise.”

Next time you hit the gym or play your favorite sport, take a look around your facility. Is there an AED? If not, why not send your club management an email with a link to this blog post? If they need help setting up their AED program, we’re here for them or better yet YOU can be there for them with AED management services.

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For our ASHI and MEDIC First Aid instructors and TC directors, remember our regulatory database in Otis is a great place to see what states require for your local fitness clubs. Let them know how your training center can help prepare their staff to respond with confidence in an emergency.