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What would you do if a client suffered cardiac arrest during a training session?

The following post is written by guest author Danielle Fera, an exercise coach from NSW.

Most personal trainers will at some point have clients who have less than healthy hearts – in fact, that may be why they are training with you. Have you ever considered what you would do if one of your clients suffered a cardiac arrest during a training session?

I have a goal for the Australian fitness industry. I want every fitness facility to be fitted out with an Automated External Defibrillation (AED) Machine in order to potentially save lives of clients, members, staff and trainers.

I have had some clients with cardiac conditions recently, and consequently became concerned that if something did actually happen to them while they were training with me, I would not have the appropriate equipment to help them. Then I thought about all the other trainers out there – what if someone did have a cardiac event while training?

Without the use of an AED, the chance of survival from out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest is less than 10 per cent. Such an incident, therefore, could be potentially life-threatening for the client and perhaps career-ending for the trainer, in terms of trauma. However, if an AED was available, a tragic cardiac event could be turned into a lifesaving one. In fact, the chance of survival with the use of an AED within the first few minutes of the event increases the chance of survival to between 80 and 90 per cent.

Here is some information about the machines:

  • They are inexpensive, costing around $2,895
  • They are easy to use – research demonstrates an untrained 12-year-old can use one
  • The training for them is addressed in the CPR certificate (done annually for every fitness instructor)
  • They have no user serviceable parts and are very easy to maintain, requiring a 1-minute visual check weekly.

AED machines are now being placed in many public places, airports, shopping centres and railway stations have them, as do some courts across NSW. So, I believe, should gyms. This equipment could save your mother, father, brother, sister, friend – maybe even you.

What do you think? Should this piece of life-saving equipment be placed in all health and fitness facilities across Australia?

For more information about AEDs, e-mail Project Heart Start at St John’s Ambulance or contact Danielle with your support at

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Posted by: patricia | 07-Oct-2009 02:53 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

i fully agree that having an AED should be compulsary in every gym how ever large or small. and if save just one life then it has paid for it self

Posted by: Denise | 12-Oct-2009 10:19 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

It is important to note that using an AED does not replace CPR. Staring CPR immediately is the best option. If an AED is available a second person should be sent to get it. The person performing CPR should not cease CPR to fetch an AED. Check with for the official Guidelines from the Australian Resuscitation Council. And keep your CPR up to date!

Posted by: Marg | 13-Oct-2009 12:00 AM |

I was recently involved in the successful revival of someone who suffered a major heart attack at the fitness centre from which I opertate my PT business.
He had previously had a quadruple bypass approx 2 years ago. This was the first time I have never had to help administer major first aid of this type in 26 years in the fitness industry! This centre does not have defib equipment.

Immediate DRABC, coma position, EAR + CPR were applied by a competent team of staff and some clients who fortunately were from the medical profession.

An ambulance was also called immediately which took approx 12min to arrive, the whole time the CPR + EAR were continuously applied.The ambulance team upon arrival then worked for approx another 12min to stabilise the client before taking him to emergency.

The 12min it took for professional help to arrive seemed like an eternity for those involved in the first aid process.

We were told by the ambulance officers that the quick thinking and actions of all involved were life saving, however I feel that once CPR + EAR were initially applied the use of an AED machine would have been of great assistance.

I see the points Denise has raised to be sound information from the experience of the event , and in an emergency situation if a sole operterator is involved it could be extremely hard to facilitate EAR, CPR + AED. In a fitness centre with several staff and a team environment, a defib would be a great asset, however for the small single PT operator praticality of operation at the time of a major incident may be a point to consider.

I only know that in the heat of a moment such as the one we experienced recently, as much help as possible by experienced people or extra equipment is / would be a god send!

I am happy to finish with news that the cient made a full recovery and is now back exercising regularly! This may be a one in a million lucky situation...AED or no AED!

Posted by: Karina | 13-Oct-2009 10:59 AM | 5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely support the idea of AEDs in all public places. I note you have information for St John's Ambulance there. The Queensland Ambulance Service also has a range of AEDs for sale and provides training on their use. We really are the experts in this field and will give great advice on the type of device to best suit any workplace. Let me know if you need any assistance from us in getting this organised.

Posted by: Gordon | 13-Oct-2009 05:57 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

We bought an AED for our small studio recently on the basis that if something does happen we will give the client every possible chance. We dealt directly with the importer and paid only $2,600 and we get the 50% Federal Government tax deduction so the price for some peace of mind isn't too high.

As we have some mature age clients who we value highly it just gives a good feeling seeing the AED hanging on the wall. Just never want to use it!

Posted by: michele | 13-Oct-2009 05:57 PM |

I was recently involved in a similar situaion to Marg. however the ambulance took over 40 minutes to arrive. thankfully our centre did have a defib. we commenced cpr within 1 minute and then applied the defib. our member is alive today because of our training and the defib machine.He is also back in the gym exercising. i know i would not want to work in a centre that did not have a defib machine.

Posted by: Angela | 14-Oct-2009 11:35 AM |

The idea behind having Automated External Defibrillation (AED) Machine is great to help save peoples' lives. People are precious and a lost life when it could have been easily saved with one of these machines is a terrible thing to happen. But why is there such a big price tag on such a device - why are they so expensive - nearly $3,000?
I know they are made to use on humans, have a recorded voice and include a 'heart rhythm assessment' to not shock unless a heartbeat is absent, in comparison with a 12-Volt car battery jump-starter which is about $200.00 - compared to a Defibrillator which is only 9-Volts, it is nearly 15 times the price. Furthermore, one defibrillator brand promoted in Victoria says that the machine 'usually has a use-by date expiring 2 years after manufacture'. Thus how can gyms afford to buy a new one every 2 years at this price? There needs to be more competition with another Defibrillator manufacturing company to bring the price down because this is ridiculous. It shouldn't be so expensive to save lives?

Posted by: tony | 17-Oct-2009 08:57 PM | 2 out of 5 stars

The effectiveness of AEDs in cardiac arrests is very controversial and of course the manufacturers promote studies biased towards their products. They are a tool that may help in around 30% of arrests that present in a shockable rythym, howver they are no substitute for effective and continuous CPR and then ongoing advanced care. Beware of biased studies and emotive arguments.

Posted by: Danielle | 21-Oct-2009 02:57 PM |

It is good to see that there is support out there for this to happen. Every year, Fitness Instructor's must complete their CPR to enable them to have current and valid registration and insurance. Every year it seems like the method for administering CPR changes, and this is a good thing because as the science improves so to do the methods for saving a life.

Now we have this new peice of equipment that can save a life, and is much more effective at it than any Fitness Instructor could be with the most up to date CPR. If Fitness Instructors can learn new techniques and be tested each year for that, could not Fitness Centres equip us with the most up to date equipment to help is with our training.

It would be great if the Fitness Industry took up the initiative to get AED's in all health centres to show our continued and growing support for each member's health and the health of their family and friends.

If anyone is interested in learning more about how successful AED's have been here is a link