How do you handle emergency situations?

TGIF! How are you all doing today? Anything fun planned for the weekend? Heading out to watch the Derby anywhere? Whatever you do, I hope it’s wonderful 🙂

Switching gears a bit, I wanted to talk about a situation from class earlier this week. Wednesday night, I was faced with a fear I think all fitness instructors have: an emergency situation in class. I’ll preface this by saying that the girl ended up being fine, but it was one of the scariest situations I’ve experienced (or, at least in a situation where I’m “in charge”). Let me set the scene for you:

I wasn’t doing the workout with the class because I had plans after work and did my workout (4 mile run-thanks for the motivation Jen!), so I was walking around the whole time and really focused on all of the members in class. It was a small class for some reason- only 11 people- so this was especially easy to do.

I also took a different approach to my teaching style. If you’ve been to my class, you know that I can be a little, well, intense at times… I like to push you and make you want to push yourself. I want you to feel amazing after you do one more squat when you think you can’t do anymore. I want you to feel like your endurance is improving when I push you to finish out a cardio blast when all you want to do is stop. But, earlier in the day, I had read this blog post and was reminded that not everyone takes to that kind of teaching style/approach.

So… I changed it up. Throughout class, I tried to give motivating comments to people and was often reminding them that it’s their workout and that they know their bodies better than I do, so if they needed to take it down a notch or scale back a bit, it was ok to do so. They are the only ones that know their bodies, what they’ve been busy with, how they’ve been sleeping, what they may have had for fuel that day, so who am I to tell them to give me 1 more rep or 10 more seconds if they know that they don’t have it in them?

And, what did that get me? A girl who dropped to the ground 3 minutes before cool down because she couldn’t breathe. Of all days and of all classes! I have to admit- my first reaction was panic. Everything I had learned from my recent CPR class or from the various certification sessions was no where to be found. Luckily, that only lasted for a second before I told someone to get help and I assessed the situation:

  • She was breathing, although she said she couldn’t breathe.
  • She was shaking, but likely not because of a seizure (like I originally thought) and moreso because she went into panic mode thinking she couldn’t breathe.
  • She was still conscious, we just needed to get her to calm down, realize she could breathe and try to get her heart rate down.
  • Her heart rate was going down as we tried to calm her down.

The above steps happened rather quickly, thankfully, and she was back to normal breathing within a few minutes. But let me tell you… those few minutes were the longest few minutes ever.

The whole situation made me think… what if this happens again? Was it my fault? Did I push them too hard? What could I have done to handle the situation better? What if something more serious happens- will I know what to do? I’m sure I’ll be faced with another “emergency” situation again, and I’m sure I’ll figure out to do, but the whole thing was just so SCARY!!

How do you guys handle emergency situations? Do you freak out or stay calm? Has this ever happened to any of my fellow instructor friends? What about those of you who go to classes? Have you experienced this outside of the gym? Did you have to help? Are you trained to help? How do you stay calm in scary situations?

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5 thoughts on “How do you handle emergency situations?

  1. Fiona MacDonald says:

    My biggest fear at the gym is someone dropping ..I’m a Registered Nurse and I’m always looking fore the AED the minute I walk into the gym!! Good for you for even being able to process any kind of emergency reaction. You should be proud of yourself!!

  2. Kim says:

    I’ve been in similar situations but never when I’m the one in charge – working at a school there are occasionally emergencies!!!
    Way to stay calm and handle that crisis – glad she is OK and I hope that she returns to class!

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