Defibrillators in Health/Fitness Clubs

If someone suffers a cardiac arrest at your facility, your staff will most likely implement an emergency response system that includes calling 911 and performing CPR. You may even boast that 95 percent of your staff is CPR certified. But, today, CPR alone is not enough. That's why many companies across America are putting automated external defibrillators (AEDs) into service-devices that can restart a stopped heart. Defibrillators have now become readily available with prices fitting the budget of nearly any health club.

When a person suffers a cardiac arrest, the victim most commonly experiences a rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. The only way to bring back a viable heart rhythm is through an electrical shock given by a defibrillator. The longer it takes to bring a defibrillator to the patient, the less chance there is for survival. For that reason, AEDs are now found in many locations, including: physician offices, police and fire vehicles, industrial settings, public transit systems, sports/convention centers, private homes and, yes, health clubs.

The Benefits of Having an AED
As a manager, you will soon discover that the AED is easy to learn and that your staff will quickly become comfortable with its use. In fact, the staff members at my club (Courts Plus Health and Fitness Centre in Elmhurst, Ill.) has found that using the AED is much easier than actually performing CPR, and they feel that they are doing more for the patient. Now this does not mean that CPR gets pushed aside. The AED is always used in combination with CPR.

How an AED Is Used
The AED is used only on someone who is unconscious and unresponsive. Large, self-adhesive, disposable patches are placed on the patient's chest, and the AED does the rest. The machine uses a computerized detection system that determines the cardiac rhythm and distinguishes between rhythms that should be shocked from those which should not be shocked. The device is so well designed that the user should not be concerned about the device delivering electrical shocks when they are not indicated. The lifesaver simply has to place the patches on the patient's bare chest, follow the visual and verbal instructions from the machine, and press a button. To make it even easier for staff to use the AED, the management team has a responsibility to create and provide a quality, realistic training program.

As with all medical devices, you need a prescription from a physician to purchase an AED. There are several manufacturers to choose from, and you may want to contact your local Emergency Medical Service or hospital to find out what they are using. You will also want to let both of those agencies know that your facility has an AED.

Both the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross have training programs in CPR and the use of an AED. By having your staff go through a professional organization, you will help to ensure a high-quality response to emergencies and may even save a life.

- Pamela J. Stoike is the health and fitness manager at Courts Plus Health and Fitness Centre in Elmhurst, Ill. She is also a licensed paramedic. She can be contacted at (630) 993-8182 or pstoike@epd.org.


Why Your Club Should Have an AED

1) An AED is easier to learn than CPR.

2) AEDs have a role in places where large gatherings occur.

3) CPR alone cannot restart a stopped heart. You need to use a defibrillator for that task.

4) The AED is so well engineered that it will only advise a shock for certain lethal heart rhythms.

5) Early defibrillation has been proven to save lives.


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