In this article, sports and fitness expert, Dr. Laura Miele-Pascoe discusses the importance of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) as part of Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) in sport, fitness and recreational facilities.
Emergency Action Plans and Automated External Defibrillators
Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) provide a course of action for individuals and organizations when faced with calamity. In the fitness industry, a well-developed and executed EAP can be the difference between life and death for participants who are seriously injured or suffer other acute health conditions. The scope of EAPs will vary somewhat across facilities to address the potential emergency situations specific to each location, but the inclusion of an Automated External Defibrillator should be part of the EAP for every fitness facility.
In the sport, fitness and recreation industry, it is not uncommon for people to be injured and even collapse during exercise. While the incidence of heart attack is higher in older age groups, the Mayo Clinic notes that when younger populations suffer heart attacks, they mostly commonly occur during physical activity, such as participating in a sporting event. (Mayo)
All sport and fitness facilities should properly train their staff in CPR and the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). However, training alone does not suffice; drills for emergency readiness must be rehearsed. Additionally, it is important that proper signage is conspicuously posted, demonstrating how to administer CPR and the location of the AED.
Emergency management provides coaches, trainers, and other related personnel with the essential information they need to properly respond in the event of injury or emergency. As a coach and personal trainer, knowing how to assess and handle an emergency situation is critical; proper emergency response will increase the chance of survival. The Emergency Action Plan is a necessary component for personnel to understand their role in the event that an athlete or client is injured. All personnel should be prepared to react to an injury, know to file an incident report, and always document any extenuating circumstances.
- Emergency Action Plans:
- An emergency action plan (EAP) is a written document required by particular OSHA standards. [29 CFR 1910.38(a)] The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during emergencies. Well developed emergency plans and proper employee training (such that employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the plan) will help to provide the best possible outcome during emergency situations.
- A well developed EAP should include the following elements:
- The role of each person in the event of an emergency (injury, heart attack, cardiac arrest).
- A map of all entrances to alert medical personnel the easiest access to the site.
- Directions on how to activate EMS/911.
- Communication instructions: what happened, the condition of the victim and what care is being given.
- The inclusion of signs where emergency equipment is located and verification that equipment is easily accessible.
- AED Best Practices:
- Emergency preparation plans should be rehearsed (announced and unannounced) on a regular basis and followed up with timely critiques and corrective actions.
- Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) must be available in all sport, fitness and recreational facilities.
- Be certain to replace batteries in a timely manner, and document testing the equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- All training staff and employees need to be trained and certified on AED use.
Preparedness can make the difference between life and death. An EAP defines the standard of care for the management of emergencies in sports and fitness facilities and allows all personnel to understand their role when an emergency arises.
Forensic Investigations Involving Health Clubs & Fitness Facilities
The experts at Robson Forensic are frequently retained to conduct investigations when individuals are injured at health clubs and fitness facilities. The scope of our investigations will typically include an analysis of how the incident happened, the condition of the equipment and environment in which it occurred, and the way the facility managed the emergency situation.
For more information, visit our Fitness Facility Operations practice page.
Dr. Laura Miele-Pascoe is an expert in sport, fitness and recreation with specific expertise in personal training, fitness facilities management and injury prevention. She is an accomplished athlete as well as an experienced trainer, coach and teacher. Dr. Miele runs her own business ‘mindoverbodyathletics’ in which she trains and consults athletes in a variety of sports and training methods. Dr. Miele continues to consult schools, athletic directors, coaches, parents, and student-athletes on the importance of preventative tactics in sports.Sudden death in young people: (Mayo Clinic)Sudden death in young people: (Mayo Clinic)