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  • Little Rock Athletic Club, Part 1

    Posted on December 22nd, 2011 Patricia No comments

    As the Little Rock Athletic Club approached its 10-year anniversary, the company appeared to have everything its 7,000 members could possibly want. It had 13 tennis, four racquetball and two basketball courts, three cardio areas and a children’s fitness center, a full schedule of aerobics and yoga classes — basically “everything you can imagine,” says the club’s health director Kim Escola. Then one day last March, a member collapsed on the basketball court while resting between his regular noontime games.

    Fortunately for the 49-year-old man, just three months earlier the club added a path-breaking new feature to its emergency and first aid procedures: It installed an automated external defibrillator (AED), a portable device that dramatically increases the chances of survival for a cardiac arrest victim if used within the first few minutes after an attack. After other players notified the front desk attendant, who called 911, two physicians exercising at the club began CPR on the unconscious man. The manager on duty arrived within seconds with the AED. The unit automatically analyzed the man’s irregular heartbeat and administered a single shock that restored it to a regular rhythm. The man was started on oxygen and monitored until the paramedics arrived 12 minutes after he had collapsed. Within a few weeks, he was back on the court shooting hoops.

    With 35 to 40 percent of the club’s members 50 years or older, Escola had been concerned with updating the company’s first aid procedures in the event of just such an emergency. After doing some initial research in 1997, she brought the AED to the attention of the club’s other senior managers, and they began talking about this new technology with representatives from the Arkansas Heart Association.

    Getting this life-saving device on the premises first required a doctor’s prescription. A physician who exercises at the club and contributes health-related articles to the club newsletter was glad to oblige. After shelling out $4,000 for the AED unit in September 1997, the club brought in representatives from the AED’s manufacturer, Physio-Control, for a three-hour training session with the company’s dozen or so managers.

    This group continues to undergo one-hour training and practice sessions every quarter to ensure everyone is as prepared as possible. Escola is also being trained to teach new staff members on the AED.

    She notes that they also updated their overall emergency equipment package with an oxygen tank, blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, air splints and communication bases placed strategically around the club.

    Despite its price tag, AED units are small, unobtrusive and can be quickly carried to the location where needed. “It’s almost like a purse,” says Escola. “We keep it at our front desk where it is readily accessible but out of sight. A member couldn’t just walk by and grab it.”

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