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The Three R’s of Emergency Response

Emergency Response

In a health club setting, emergencies can occur at any time. Medical emergencies are the most common when someone is injured, or has a cardiac episode or other health-related issue. Weather emergencies can certainly pop up, as well as other disasters such as fire or water damage. Having staff members who are trained in proper response techniques is vital to keeping everyone safe and protecting the club from harm. A quick, memorable sequence to implement for your staff comprises these three R’s:

  1. Respond

Training is essential for effective first response in an emergency or potential emergency. Any member of your staff team or trained volunteers who first respond should immediately assess the scene for any imminent threats or dangers. Once the area is secure, provide assistance such as first aid, CPR or the use of an automated external defibrillator according to your training plan. Notify emergency services if the specific situation warrants it.

  1. Report

Once the situation is under control, create a file that contains proper documentation about what happened. This will enable you to:

  • Assist the police, fire and EMS
  • Assist the insurance adjustors if a claim arises from the incident
  • Conduct a post-incident review with your staff team

Create an easily accessible template that your staff team member who was most closely involved can complete. Include sections to document all the facts about the incident, as well as witness statements and all relative contact information. Take time to gather and preserve evidence—including any involved equipment or parts, and any photos/surveillance footage—can be very helpful. In addition, membership agreements and waivers completed by the individuals involved should be placed in the incident file along with the completed report and all other relative documentation.

  1. Reply

After the dust has settled, review and reply to the incident. Many clubs have established a protocol for the member service manager or general manager to follow up with the people involved to check on their well-being. This is a wonderful practice that shows concern for your members and guests. Another best practice for the Reply phase is to follow up with your staff team members to check on their physical and emotional well-being. You can discuss any lessons learned from the incident with your entire staff and explain any needed adjustments to action plans moving forward.

You can never be fully prepared for all emergencies at all times. However, by following the three R’s, your team will be equipped with basic parameters and procedures to react to emergency situations.


Brian Rawlings spent 10 years developing and overseeing programs in the fitness industry before joining The Cincinnati Insurance Company in 2005. He now applies his fitness expertise as National Program Director for the Fitness, Sports & Recreation program at Cincinnati Insurance. Brian can be reached by email addressed at Brian_Rawlings@cinfin.com or visit www.cinfin.com/fitness-sports.


Brian Rawlings

Brian Rawlings is Practice Leader for FITLIFE, which insures fitness facilities, health clubs & spas, for Venture Programs. He can be reached by phone at 800-282-6247 ext.323 or email: brawlings@ventureprograms.com.  

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