No one likes to think about the possibility of injuring themselves at the gym — or worse, having a heart attack. However, it can happen (and has) and you should know whether or not your gym is equipped to handle emergencies. According to the American Heart Association, 33% of heart attacks that occur outside the home or hospital happen at gyms and fitness clubs, which is a startling statistic. The faster a victim gets treatment for cardiac arrest, the better his or her chances, and if your gym isn’t equipped to handle emergencies, you could be putting your life in danger.
In some states, including New York, gyms are required to be equipped with automated external defibrillators because CPR is often not sufficient to revive a patient in cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, a survey conducted by the AHA demonstrates that more than half of those gyms are not complying with this law. In states where no such law exists, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an AED machine because of the expense. Gym owners aren’t willing to fork over the cash unless they experience substantial profits from their business.
You also have to realize that just because a gym is equipped to handle emergencies doesn’t mean that it’s staff is educated on how to use that equipment. Most personal trainers and other gym employees have no formal medical training at all beyond CPR and first aid, and some of them don’t even have that. There are no gym regulations that require personal trainers to go through the certification process, and gym owners don’t want to pay for that expense, either. It is just as dangerous to have an untrained individual try to resuscitate you than it is to have no help at all.
Before you sign the paperwork for a gym membership, ask about its safety guidelines. Find out if your gym is equipped to handle emergencies, and if so, what does that include? Just about anyone can handle a bruise or scrape, but what about life-threatening emergencies where every second counts?
In addition to not being equipped to handle emergencies, some gyms don’t have telephones on the floor because they don’t want customer abusing long-distance charges. While this makes economical sense from the point of view of the gym, it isn’t conducive to handling emergencies. If someone collapses from cardiac arrest, employees or other patrons must be able to dial 911 immediately. Since the average response time for ambulances varies, you don’t want any delay in getting emergency medical attention.
According to the American Heart Association, your chances for survival drop ten percent for each minute that you lack emergency attention during a heart attack. This means that you need assistance immediately, and your gym should be well-equipped to provide it. If you find that your gym lacks such precautions, you’d be better off finding another place to work out.