AED CALLED INTO ACTION ON GYM FLOOR
HAYWARD, CA –In a “You Were There” scenario familiar to grade school students of the baby boomer age, a 39 year old patron with no history of heart problems began an early morning workout. At 6:40 AM the morning changed suddenly and dramatically. The gym attendant noticed that the patron appeared to be in cardiac arrest. He quickly located the facility’s AED device, recalled his CPR training, and put both to work within two minutes of the crisis. One shock was administered by the attendant with the AED prior to the arrival of emergency personnel. His efforts resulted in the establishment of a faint pulse that continued to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the heart, body, and brain of the victim. Unfortunately, in spite of the best medical interventions by both trained medical personnel and the gym employee, the victim did not survive. Ironically, this occurred on the one year anniversary of California’s Assembly Bill 1507 (the 2007 “AED gym law”), legislation requiring that gyms have an AED device on site, legally compliant AED program management, and trained employees in place.
“While the outcome of this event is unfortunate, and we are saddened by the loss of life, there are elements of celebration, satisfaction, and accomplishment we must enjoy. Statistically, when an AED is present during a witnessed Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the unit is only deployed 50% of the time. The fact that this employee responded promptly, effectively, and confidently must be noted and emphasized and congratulated. Moreover, the victim in this case arrived at the hospital with a pulse! There is nothing else this facility or employee could have done, ” said Micah Bongberg, President, Annuvia, the firm that provides the CPR and AED training and AED program management for the gym.
Gym members should feel comforted by the fact that the employee and gym facility were clearly well prepared for this unfortunate event and did exactly what best medical practice advises. Sadly, survival rates for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) are statistically approximately 5% with immediate CPR intervention. Survival rates approach 0% if no action is taken by bystanders in the crucial first one to two minutes of the event, and lay rescuers simply wait for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to arrive. Published studies indicate that with early CPR and defibrillation, survival rates dramatically jump to as much as 70% or more.
SCA is an insidious killer, attacking apparently healthy people without warning and taking more lives annually than breast cancer, prostate cancer, gun shot wounds, and fires;.combined! Consider the average gym member; approximately 55 years of age, working on becoming more fit, professionally in a sedentary occupation. In recognition of this demographic and the increased risks associated with exercise and SCA, California is one of 13 states and Washington DC that have enacted legislation requiring the presence of AED devices in gyms, health clubs, and fitness facilities. Additionally, the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) enacted a requirement that all personal trainers and certified gym personnel become certified in the use of AED devices as well as CPR after June 1, 2007.
While this story does not have the traditional happy ending, there is a lesson to be learned. Preparedness and training are not important until in sudden dramatic fashion they are essential. Training must by ingrained well enough that the bystander can act instinctively in a competent way, locating well placed emergency equipment on his way to aid the victim. The employee in this story is to be congratulated for acting immediately and appropriately; for aiding to the best of his considerable ability in a crisis situation. This gym is to be congratulated for having in place a significant training program for its employees and for a seriousness of purpose towards emergency procedures and equipment location. Hopefully, if ever needed again, the response will be identical, but the results may be different.