Room vs. Area
There are two reasons that a first aid room may be preferable over simply a designated first aid area of the gym – privacy and isolation. There are certain injuries, including some injuries that may not be serious, for which privacy for the gymnast may be desirable. Bathrooms may provide privacy, but not necessarily the sterile environment or equipment and interfere with others who may need to use bathroom facilities. As often is the case, a combination of both a first aid room and a first aid area may be the best solution. In a large gym, they could be located in opposite ends of the gym providing quicker access to first aid supplies. The first aid area could also be located just outside the door of the first aid room.
First Aid Equipment
Obviously, the first aid room/area is the central storage location for all first aid equipment and supplies. Specialty equipment like the new portable defibrillators (more likely useful for parental spectators, rather than gymnasts), backboards and inflatable splints would also be stored there.
Couch, Cot/Bed, Massage Table, Adjustable Table
It is not uncommon for gymnasts to need to lay down either for treatment or for rest. Some injury treatments require treatment for shock and there is no reason why gymnasts should have to lay on the floor to be treated. Ideally, perhaps a first aid area would be equipped with a couch, a cot or medical bed and/or an adjustable (lower the head and raise the feet) medical table. A massage table could double as on or more of these and provide double use for the space and equipment.
Accessible from Gym, Outside and Parent’s Area
The first aid area should be carefully located to provide quick access from any area of the gym, from the outside for quick emergency medical personnel access and to the parent’s area allowing parents to visit their injured or sick child without having to cross the gym.
Clear Exit Path for Emergency
Ideally, there should be a clear flat path for emergency personnel to roll in and out their emergency gurney with a minimum of obstacles to slow the process, make the ride rougher for the patient and a direct route to an exit for quick extraction of the patient.
Nurse’s Desk, Phone and Computer
Also in the first aid room must be a phone for calling 911 and/or the gymnast’s parents. A computer with all of and a hard copy of all of the emergency information and medical records and forms for each gymnast in the gym should be available. We advise already having a printed copy of emergency information and medical records and forms available on file for emergency personnel to take with them to the hospital. You could have a printer/copier available to do this, but there will likely be other things to do at the time of an emergency.
A first aid supply cabinet should provide controlled access, storage and the ability to easily inventory all first aid supplies. Access to any medications, even over the counter medications, should be locked out of the reach of young gymnasts. For easy access and remembering in an emergency, we recommend setting all first aid supply locks (we prefer keypads) to 911 for the combination. Neatly arranging and labeling all supplies allows for making an easy, accurate inventory of first aid supplies, minimizing or eliminating a situation where you need a particular type of first aid supply and are out of it. Maintaining a centralized first aid area and storage area does not mean that some first aid supplies could not or should not be kept in other areas like Band-Aids being available at the front desk.
For obvious reasons, the first aid room/area should have direct easy access to a bathroom, preferably a private bathroom to maintain isolation and a sterile environment when that is necessary or desirable. Having a directly accessible bathroom also allows better chance of maintaining a sterile environment since hand washing will be easier for all to do.
We actually suggest maintaining a sterile refrigerator/freezer in the first aid area rather than the ice machine. An ice machine is an expensive piece of equipment for a gym and has uses in the food area in addition to the first aid area. Placement in the first aid area raises questions about its use in drinks in the food area. We believe that a number of pre-prepared ice packs should be stored in the first aid room/area refrigerator/freezer and the inventory should be maintained as with other first aid supplies. The ice machine becomes a back-up supply.
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