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Best Practices for Health Emergency Protocols

health emergency

One of the most unsettling situations a gym-goer can experience is a health emergency. In most cases, the responsiveness of the staff on hand can be critical to helping the victim, so it’s imperative to have your staff well-trained in the event of a health emergency.

Club Solutions spoke with Mark Daly, the national media director for Anytime Fitness, about the importance of health emergency protocols and how to implement these strategies with your staff.

CS: What protocols do you have in place for health emergencies?

MD: First and foremost, everybody needs to be trained in CPR. Because Anytime Fitness gyms are most often located in smaller communities, there’s extensive cooperation and planning with local police departments and first responders. In most communities, the franchisees will deliver key fobs to give to the local police and fire departments so they have access to the gyms 24 hours a day. The gyms don’t have nooks and crannies where something would happen and you wouldn’t see it — there are surveillance cameras that cover every square inch of each Anytime Fitness gym except the private changing rooms and tanning rooms. And those cameras can be remotely monitored by a manager or the owner 24 hours a day. During new franchisee training, our franchise consultants and other team leaders coach our franchisees about the importance of preparing for every imaginable incident that might occur at the gym, including how to respond to an injury, how to contact first responders, how to secure and rope off equipment where an injury may have occurred, how to document responses to an emergency, and those sort of things.

CS: Are there any challenges in implementing safety protocols?

MD: No special challenges for us. We recently expanded our new franchisee training from one week to two mandatory weeks because there is so much to cover. That gives us more time to impress upon our franchisees and their managers the importance of preparing for an accident so you can respond quickly.

CS: How do you educate your staff on these procedures?

MD: We encourage our franchisees to practice responses to accidents and emergencies on a regular basis. There isn’t any resistance to that — the emergency preparedness and response plans are posted on what we refer to as the “Anytime Academy.” They’re easily downloadable and we instruct the franchisees to have many copies available and distribute them to all the new employees.

CS: How do you educate members on these procedures?

MD: The orientation for all new members is an hour-long process and all new members are given comprehensive tours of the gym and taught how to use the various pieces of equipment to minimize the chances that they are using equipment incorrectly, which would, in turn, minimize the chances that they would hurt themselves. All new members are given a free fitness assessment which involves talking with a personal trainer or staff member about their physical limitations, skills and health history. Part of that is also physical — they go through six basic movements to assess their skills and limitations, then as a result, they’re given a 30-day “get started” plan that is designed to start small and build upon various exercises so they don’t hurt themselves. All Anytime Fitness gyms have personal security devices, which are lightweight lanyards you can wear around your neck with an emergency response button. Each gym typically has four of these devices, and members are instructed to use the security devices when they’re in the gym during un-staffed hours.

CS: Do you have any advice for other health clubs?

MD: Nothing is more important than your members’ safety and security — we are, after all, health clubs. The larger your facility and system, the more inevitability there will be accidents you need to respond to, and the time to prepare for these inevitable accidents is well before you open your doors. When an incident does happen, you need to think, “I know exactly how to respond because we have practiced and prepared for this.” First, there needs to be a very quick assessment of what’s happening and the next steps you have prepared to take. Who is going to contact first responders? Who is going to tend to the member who needs assistance? What else can we do to maximize the chances of a good outcome?

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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