Phil Kaplan on AED's

Automatic External Defibrillators are saving lives, and the professional fitness facility in the 21st Century maintains a staff well trained in emergency procedures including the use of an AED.

Fitness professionals, while they have long understood the value of an AED, have found them cost prohibitive. The good news is, they're becoming so affordable there are very few excuses to preclude fitness facility owners from making an AED an absolute. I'll address a few of the common excuses here, and urge everyone connected with a fitness facility to take measures to ensure that the owner wisely invests in the safety of the members.

Beyond the price issue, according to Dr. Anthony Abbott, founder of Fitness Institute, one of the more common objections often prohibiting health club owners from making the investment is based on the mistaken assumption that owning an AED will increase liability. Club owners return to the theory, "this is a medical device, and if I pretend to have medical expertise I'm at risk." The theory is unfounded and without merit. Best Review, a the leading insurance trade publication, has stated that not having an AED puts you at greater risk than having an AED.

Can You Use an AED?

There is a fear factor present as an AED is still linked with those defib devices we see in hospitals and on medical emergency shows on TV. The doctor yells, "Clear" and the body on the white sheet jumps into the air. The nurses then turn to the computer screen to await evidence of a heartbeat.

You don't have to have any actual medical expertise to use an AED and save someone's life. In fact, the American Heart Association's journal Circulation (1999; 100; 1703-1707) reported a "Comparison of Na´ve Sixth-Grade Children with Trained Professionals in the Use of an Automated External Defibrillator".

In this study, sixth graders who had no prior training in AED use, were taught to follow instruction and push the on button. They compared the speed and efficiency of the sixth graders with that of experienced paramedics. There was only a 30-second difference between the two groups in their ability to deliver a life saving shock.

IHRSA is now recommending AED's for all health clubs.

ACE has teamed up with the American Heart Association to offer an 8-hour Heartsaver First Aid with CPR and AED training course.

As these agencies and others begin to actively promote the life-saving value of these devices, it's only a matter of time before they become mandatory in fitness facilities.

Want to find more info on AEDs? I am not an expert in this area, simply the messenger. I defer to Dr. Abbott who has written extensively on the subject. His article Code Blue - Member Down in the November 2000 issue of Personal Fitness Professional is a "must read." Find information on Dr. Abbott and Fitness Institute's Trainer courses at

You can also look into getting a unit. Philips medical distributes the AED units that have received the highest classification by the American Heart Association. You can visit their website, or click here for their product catalog.

Note: I received an email from Tagni McRae, the Communications Manager for the American Heart Association on July 6, 2004. She clarified a statement I made above. Here's an excerpt from her email:

Just to clarify--the American Heart Association does not "classify" AED devices (see quote below from your article). We recommend the use of automated external defibrillators within five minutes or less and recommend that certain locations implement AED programs if the risk of VF cardiac arrest is high and EMS cannot make it within that timeframe. The FDA regulates AEDs and defines them as devices that require a medical prescription.

Also get details on the Lifeline by Defibtech which is the most affordable unit I've found. It retails for $1500, but is now available for $1,295. Visit Defibtech's site at

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