Prepare An Emergency Plan for Your Fitness Center
The fitness center is a commonly-loved amenity among tenants and residents, and, therefore, tends to be a high-traffic area on most properties. Because your fitness center could be one of the more popular amenities on your property, it certainly brings a need for a plan to manage risks that can occur. If you haven’t already, it’s important to establish life safety and emergency response practices that decrease the odds of something going wrong while allowing for an effective response when issues do arise, for both users and staff.
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What type of emergencies can happen in your fitness center?
When you think of opportunities where an emergency could arise within a fitness center, you might think of an injured member, but issues can range greatly, including medical emergencies, fire, flooding, chemical accidents, power outages, weather-related scenarios, and violent confrontations. Having an emergency plan already in place may help you address each of these types of emergencies with better preparation and actionable response.
What usually goes wrong:
Fitness staff and property managers don’t often think of things going horribly wrong in a fitness center environment, which can escalate bad situations into worse ones. Emergency situations will likely heighten when:
- The staff is not clear about what to do, causing them to panic.
- There is no emergency response system in place, with no clear means of how to navigate through the emergency or get the appropriate help.
- Other members become afraid or are reluctant to get involved.
In any sort of emergency, minutes and even seconds count, and public gyms are no exception. Fast, seamless action could mean the difference between life and death.
The following are a few of the first steps toward addressing emergency situations at your property’s gym. Of course, specific details may vary according to the situation and facility size, but this is a solid foundation toward building an effective plan:
Establish a chain of command.
Assume that the person in charge of the fitness facility may not always be there at the time of the emergency. If so, designate a #2 and even a #3 backup staff member who will be in charge should an emergency occur. Make sure they are trained and knowledgeable regarding all the details of possible emergencies.
Be certain that all emergency-related equipment is working, accessible, and easily operated by staff and members.
All gym facilities should be equipped with a first-aid kit, an emergency communications system (see more about this at the bottom of this blog post), fire extinguishers, and an automated external defibrillator (AED). Be sure that all staff knows how to work all equipment.
Post helpful signs and directions in the facility.
In the midst of panic or chaos, it is not always easy to think clearly or know how to respond. Have clear directions that are easily accessed and understood in the event of an emergency. This signage could include emergency contact numbers, such as police/fire departments and the local hospital, as well as the current property manager (and how to get in immediate contact with them). Details can also include how to operate the emergency equipment (and exactly where it is located).
Make sure emergency exits are clearly marked.
This is likely a legal building code requirement for your property, but even if it is not, a clearly marked emergency exit could save lives.
Have staff attend CPR classes.
CPR is relatively easy to learn and has a long history of saving lives. Since it is used in a myriad of urgent situations, it’s important that anyone taking any responsibility for your fitness center’s safety be well-versed on how to perform this life-saving measure.
Develop actionable procedures detailing how to respond to an emergency that occurs at the fitness center.
As one example, according to gym.net, a typical protocol in an emergency situation regarding an injured member is to initiate the STOP procedure:
S: Stop all activity.
T: Talk to the injured party.
O: Observe the injured party for breathing and movement
P: Prevent further injury. Do not touch or move the injured party unless it is absolutely necessary.
Have an emergency communications system in place.
An emergency communication device can provide a higher level of help than a cell phone can offer and can be a true lifesaver in the event of an emergency in your fitness center. An all-inclusive solution like Kings III emergency monitoring offers easy-to-use emergency telephone equipment that makes a difference, along with professionally-trained emergency dispatchers, available 24/7/365.
Kings III operators receive specialized training specific to emergency response. They are certified in Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatch (AEMD), allowing them to provide your tenants step-by-step pre-arrival medical instructions until help arrives (this includes CPR) if needed. An AEMD certification meets and exceeds all national safety requirements, which is significant in any emergency.
In addition, an emergency communications system like Kings III includes a record of calls placed from your property. This could be a vital detail if the incident goes to litigation since you’ll need to bring emergency call records in order to support your case. The record of the call will help prove exactly what happened, and when (date and time stamps are provided).
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