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Facility operators need to revise emergency plans to cater for cardiac arrest incidents

Facility operators need to revise emergency plans to cater for cardiac arrest incidents
October 10, 2018

A CQUniversity-led Australian-first study into the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest at fitness, recreation and sporting facilities has shown that facility operators need to revise their emergency plan and ensure appropriate staff cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) training is in place.

CQUni risk management expert Dr Betul Sekendiz collected the data from the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) into the incidence of “bystander emergency management” at exercise and sport facilities.

Dr Betul Sekendiz, recently presented the findings of this research at the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) Conference from 20th to 23rd September in Bologna, Italy.

Dr Sekendiz advised “exercise and sport facilities contribute to the preventive health policy of the governments by helping people to be more physically active. However vigorous exercise can be a trigger for sudden cardiac arrest in people with known or hidden cardiovascular conditions.

“Early recognition, quality bystander CPR and use of an AED are the key for the survival of sudden cardiac arrest patients.”

Of the data collected over an eight-year period (2007-2015) Dr Sekendiz found that 250 of 5175 (or 4.8%) out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest cases occurred at fitness, recreation and sporting facilities. Most of the cases involved male patients, aged over 65 years.

She found that the sites with the highest incidence of sudden cardiac arrest included golf clubs, health/fitness facilities, licensed sports clubs, lawn bowls clubs and tennis clubs.

Dr Sekendiz explained “on arrival at 75.6% of the facilities bystander CPR was being undertaken, however only 38% of the bystanders were applying effective CPR.

“Only at 12.4% of the facilities were both CPR and AED and at 24.4% of the facilities, the bystanders neither applied CPR or AED to any of the patients.”

The findings showed that after the arrival of paramedics and the administering of treatment only 38.8% of patients improved.

Logistic regression modelling showed that effective CPR was 1.9 times a better predictor for improved out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest patient outcomes at exercise and sports facilities.

Dr Sekendiz said the findings also revealed that sports traditionally known to be low/moderate intensity are higher risk sites for sudden cardiac arrest.

She concluded “this can be due to an ageing population with various cardiac health risk factors, who prefer to play such sports as a recreational activity because they consider it to be safe.

“As a result, the age of the bystanders can also have an impact on the quality of their chest compressions.

“This study has implications for exercise and sport facility operators to revise their emergency plans and procedures, and to ensure they have staff currently trained in CPR and utilise an AED to be capable of properly responding to an unexpected cardiac emergency situation.”

Papers from Dr Sekendiz on the issue, as published in the journal Resuscitation, can be accessed at and

Image: Dr Betul Sekendiz pictured at the recent European Resuscitation Council Conference from in Bologna, Italy.

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16th March 2018 - Significant numbers of fitness professionals unprepared for emergencies in their facilities

2nd November 2017 - CQUniversity risk management expert warns of dangerous sports supplement promotions

10th July 2017 - Snap Fitness claim it is not responsible for PT’s actions in negligence lawsuit

14th June 2017 - NSW Government announces funding program for defibrillators at sports clubs

24th May 2017 - ESSA reminder on the importance of exercising for a healthy heart

22nd January 2017 - FFA provides defibrillators across Australia’s elite football leagues

11th November 2016 - Belgravia Leisure installs defibrillation units at all of its facilities

19th September 2016 - Napier death underlines need for defibrillators

23rd August 2016 - ExerciseNZ releases guidelines on management of unsupervised fitness facilities

5th August 2016 - Urban Lifesavers event to raise cardiac arrest awareness

28th September 2015 - Defibrillator supply program open for Victorian sporting clubs and facilities

26th August 2015 - Should fitness clubs install defibrillators?

20th July 2015 - Donation sees defibrillators installed at local parks in Parramatta

3rd September 2014 - CrossFit121 gym staff use defibrillator to save Melbourne woman’s life

15th August 2014 - Defibrillators installed in all cityfitness Clubs

11th May 2013 - Survey to assess risk management in fitness

23rd March 2012 - Geelong aquatic and recreation facilities equipped with defibrillators

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