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  • Little Rock Athletic Club, Part 2

    Posted on December 29th, 2011 Patricia No comments

    Escola says she and the club’s executive director, Pat Riley Jr., had no idea they’d need to use the medical device so soon after they acquired it. Members were thrilled. “You hate to think about needing it, but our customers were happy to know we had such a device. Surprised, but happy,” Escola says. Although the club announced the arrival of the AED in the member newsletter, it was the incident on the basketball court, and its coverage in an Associated Press story, that really helped spread the word.

    Were there any safety concerns about bringing such a powerful medical device into the club? Escola explains, “The Physio-Control AED is user-friendly. Its computer determines whether the victim has a shockable heart rhythm. It is impossible for the responder to override the AED. Electrodes are placed in specified areas, and the responder presses a button for the computer to analyze. The computer then directs the responder to shock and when to initiate CPR.”

    Although AEDs have started showing up in commercial airlines in the last few years, inclusion in a commercial environment such as a health club is rare. In fact, the Little Rock Athletic Club is one of the first fitness centers in the country to obtain one. Escola and her colleagues are working to change that.

    Part of the problem is the issue of liability. If people can sue a company for scalding themselves with coffee (and succeed), you can bet that a business’ use of an electric shock device is ripe with opportunities for lawsuits should the victim not survive or not return to full health. [See related Law Notes, page ??.] The Arkansas Heart Association is backing legislation to limit liability under the state’s Good Samaritan Act. The legislation would extend protection to the person who uses the device and its actual owner, as well as the owner of the property on which the device is used and the physician who prescribed it.

    Backers of the legislation hope that by removing liability, other commercial enterprises will follow the lead of the Little Rock Athletic Club and obtain an AED for their own premises. Escola and Riley have both testified before state lawmakers on the issue during subcommittee hearings.

    “Every fitness center should have one — with a staff properly trained in using the equipment,” Escola says. “You need to be able to handle such a situation.” The members at her club are definitely glad to know that she and her staff can do so.

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