I know a lot of you are thinking “AED? Oh great, yet another acronym in the gym that I have no idea what it means.” This one is an important one, not so much that you remember the name, but that you know it’s in the gym! AED stands for Automatic External Defibrillator and it has saved lives in gyms all over the world. In the next week or so we will be getting our very own AED at CFC and shortly after it’s arrival we will be holding a training on how to us it. (Offered by the Red Cross Czech Republic) We want as many people as possible to attend the training, the more of you that know how to use the machine the better!
For those of you who are completely unfamiliar with the device I’ll give you a quick history. The AED is an emergency life saving device that when available is a useful addition to the CPR process. Studies show that persons who had some kind of heart-related event had much higher survival chances when an AED was used alongside traditional CPR techniques.
The technology for the defibrillator has been around since the 1970’s but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that it really took off. In 1999 the use of the AED was added to the American Red Cross’ first aid and CPR courses. In the early 2000’s many States in the US made AED’s mandatory equipment in schools and fitness centers. In the EU laws vary from country to country. In the Czech Republic, AED’s have not yet been made mandatory.
The machine itself is very easy to use and walks you through the entire process of carrying out CPR on a person and will deliver an electric shock to the heart if the machine reads that the pulse is irregular or not present. An important note here is that an AED does NOT take the place of CPR, but is used in tandem.
On a personal note I am a huge supporter of having the AED in the gym. I have been trained in it’s use a couple of times now because of my background as a personal trainer and instructor. In my opinion it helps take the guesswork out of the CPR process. More than that however, it’s benefit became undeniable when an AED saved my Dad’s life a couple of years ago.
My Dad is a very active and healthy 62-year-old man. He has played basketball at the gym every Monday night for as long as I can remember. On this particular Monday he was playing his “old guys game” as he call it (for men over 40) and he started feeling weak and light-headed. He collapsed on the court and was unconscious when one of the gym employees came to help. The employee was trained in the AED use and had it with him when he arrived to help my Dad. He hooked it up and the machine read that my Dad’s heart was beating very erratically and so delivered an electric shock. I think the machine ended up shocking him a couple of times before the paramedics arrived. In the ambulance on the way to the hospital they had to shock him a few more times to keep his heart in a healthy rhythm. He ended up needing emergency heart surgery that same evening. The doctors said that my Dad would have almost certainly died before getting to the hospital if not for the AED. My Dad is an airline pilot and is subject to mandatory check-ups twice a year and he NEVER had any indication of heart issues. It just goes to show that this could happen to anyone, and it’s better to be prepared!
On a more general note, stories come out pretty frequently about lives being saved at CrossFit boxes because an AED and someone who knew how to use it were available. We want the gym to be as safe an environment as possible for all of our members and we think this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Since we are talking about safety issues etc. it might be a good time to remind you that all the coaches ARE trained in basic first aid and CPR. Just like the AED, once we are trained we hope we will never need to use any of it, but it’s better that we have the equipment and the knowledge if it became necessary!