The Pros and Cons of Automated External Defibrillators
By Sean Riley, MS, JD

Association and the American Red Cross (Gmelich 2000). Moreover, a licensed physician must be involved in the design of any emergency plan that includes the use of defibrillators. Equipment Maintenance. The AED must be properly maintained. California’s Health and Safety Code requires periodic inspections, and testing every 30 days. (See “AED Maintenance Checklist on the next page.) Furthermore, any actual use of the device must be reported to a licensed physician and/or the emergency medical services station (Gmelich 2000).


he diversity of populations currently frequenting fitness centers is creating a slew of potential legalities in the realm of emergency care. As a fitness facility manager, you are responsible for training employees to handle emergency situations. Emergency plans and procedures should be well thought out and documented in writing. One such procedure is the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

AEDs in Fitness Facilities
The fitness environment is ripe for AED use. Strenuous activity can stress the body, perhaps to the point of collapse for some individuals. AEDs might be essential to saving the life of an overstressed person. Demographics demonstrate a steady increase in the number of health club members over 35 years old. In fact this population currently accounts for more than 55% of club memberships (AHA 2002). You can reasonably presume that the number of members with cardiovascular disease is also rising (AHA 2002). The standards offered in ACSM’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines do not require the presence of defibrillators in fitness facilities (Gmelich 2000). Nevertheless, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) encourage the use of AEDs as a means of minimizing the time between the recognition of cardiac arrest and successful defibrillation (ACSM & AHA 2002). The placement of AEDs is vehemently encouraged in fitness facilities that have more than 2,500 members, offer clinical programs for diseased and/or increased-risk populations or

estimate that the arrival of emergency medical services will take longer than 5 minutes (ACSM & AHA 2002). Evaluating the position of your facility in the community is a good idea before using AEDs or making them available. By maintaining a census of your members, you can determine if your club has a substantial number of at-risk individuals, which would justify the associated expense and time. (The average cost of an AED is currently $3,000