CardioReady's Gretchen Kirkwood advises special event planners how to protect guests from Sudden Cardiac Arrest
The reputation of special event planners is on the line at every occasion they plan and execute--meaning it is essential that they make every effort to please attendees. Certainly, safeguarding guests from prevalent health dangers is key in this effort.
As event planners look to improve the event program, room accommodations, food and other services as ways to enhance a guest’s experience, it is also important to ensure that the event location’s safety procedures are on par with convenience amenities. Guests must be protected from dangers, which includes health emergencies.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a prominent risk that needs to be considered when planning events. It is the leading cause of death in the USA, claiming more lives each year than lung cancer, breast cancer and leukemia combined. SCA is an abrupt, unexpected loss of heart function caused by an electrical disturbance in the heart, and often strikes without warning. With more than 400,000 Americans experiencing SCA each year--that is one person every 90 seconds--the chance of someone falling victim to this prevalent health risk while they are the guest at an event is higher than one might think.
Time is of the essence when treating a person who is experiencing SCA. Their chance of survival decreases 10 percent with each passing minute, so quickly recognizing that the person is in need of help and knowing the steps that should be taken is crucial to increasing their likelihood of survival. Employing a shock to an SCA victim utilizing an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) within three minutes of collapse can increase a person’s chance of survival to more than 70 percent, which is more than 10 times the national average.
With a recent Harris Interactive survey indicating that one out of two people expect to find AEDs in hotels, and two out of five people expect to find the devices in restaurants, it is clear that event planners need to ensure that proper preparations are in place in order to meet their clients’ expectations. If an event planner vets the location appropriately prior to guest arrival, lives can and will be saved.
As part of this process, event planners need to ask several key questions:
· Are there enough AEDs on site in order to enable a response within 3 minutes?
· Are the AEDs accessible and visible so that they can be quickly accessed in an emergency?
· Have enough of the site’s staff been trained in AED/CPR usage to ensure that a trained responder will be available should SCA strike during the event?
Event planners should consider implementing an SCA preparedness program to make certain that staff is ready to react should an emergency occur. Program implementation begins with an assessment of the facility to determine how many AEDs are necessary, as well as how many event staffers should be trained. The devices should be placed in easily accessible locations and should be clearly labeled so that if an SCA was to occur, the devices could be located with ease. Trained professionals can come to the location of the event prior to its start to train employees in both AEDs and CPR, to check that devices are working properly, and that the hotel, resort or banquet facility is complying with laws and regulations.
Sound preparation for health emergencies like SCA certainly enhances your clients’ experience. Guests not only feel protected, but also know that their well-being is valued. When all is said and done, no one will remember five-star food or the amenities of a world-class resort if the event is marred by a preventable tragedy.
With AEDs now recognized as a commonly expected standard, SCA preparedness protects not only the safety and wellbeing of an event planner’s clients, but also an event planner’s reputation.
Gretchen Kirkwood is the hospitality practice leader of CardioReady, a suburban Philadelphia company that offers organizations turn-key preparedness and training solutions aimed at improving survival from Sudden Cardiac Arrest.