Senator Fuschillo And Assemblymember Weisenberg Announce New Safety Requirements At Health Clubs

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

July 18, 2005

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) and Assemblymember Harvey Weisenberg (20th Assembly District) joined at the New York Sports Club in Long Beach to announce the beginning of a new law which requires automated external defibrillators (AED) to be on hand at all New York State health clubs with memberships of 500 or more. The new law, which Senator Fuschillo and Assemblymember Weisenberg sponsored in their respective houses, goes into effect on Wednesday, July 20.

"Working with the Acampora Family of Northport, after they lost their 14-year old son Louis, has allowed me to personally view the impact these devices can have. After their loss, the family worked to get AEDs in schools and in the hands of the general pubic. That work has already saved 17 lives in New York schools," stated Assemblymember Weisenberg. "The technology is available and it must be provided for it to be effective. Health clubs, with the tendency of people to push themselves to extremes, are certainly one place where these devices should be available and they will be on July 20."

The law calls for health clubs, health spas, health studios, gymnasiums, weight control studios, martial arts and self-defense school whose membership is at least 500 members to mantain at least one operational AED which is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration on site. The new law also requires that the health club must have at least one staff member on site during all business hours who is trained to use an AED and who is trained to perform CPR.

Defibrillators are electrical devices used to counteract fibrillation of the heart muscle and restore normal heartbeat by applying a brief electric shock. Using defibrillators can significantly increase the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest.

According to the American Heart Association, a victim’s chance of survival decreases by 7-10 percent for every minute that passes without defibrillation. The American Heart Association estimates that 250,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital, and that a quarter of these deaths could have been prevented if a defibrillator was available for immediate use.

"In the past, the ability to defibrillate was solely in the hands of emergency medical personnel. Unfortunately, quick emergency medical response isn't always possible," said George Rosales, Senior Regional Director of Advocacy for the American Heart Association. "The best way to give members of a health club a fighting chance of survival should they suffer sudden cardiac arrest, is to ensure that the health club is equipped with lifesaving equipment, and that health club personnel are trained in CPR and in the use of an AED."

"When a person goes into cardiac arrest, a few seconds can mean the difference in avoiding tragedy and all technology that can help must be utilized. With so many New Yorkers working hard to stay in shape, there is a great need to offer the best protection possible," stated Senator Fuschillo. "The ability to have these devices on hand will greatly enhance the safety of the thousands of health club patrons across New York State."

Senator Fuschillo and Assemblymember Weisenberg made the announcement at the New York Sports Club in Long Beach. All of the branches of the company have been equipped with the devices since December of 2004 and much of their staff has already been trained to operate the devices and to perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).