There were a lot of happy campground owner/operators at the Northeast Campgrounds Association’s 2016 Conference on Camping and Trade Show in Nashua, New Hampshire. There, some of the friendliest business owners we have ever met got together to discuss everything camping. The old saying “if you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life” certainly holds true among these down-to-earth campground owners. Don’t misunderstand – these people work exceptionally hard keeping their campgrounds running, but you can tell they also love what they do.
The AED Superstore was thrilled to be invited to exhibit and speak at this small but enthusiastic conference. About 60 of these fine folks attended our seminar on Automated External Defibrillators and the reasons a campground should consider investing in them. Obvious reasons, like they are simple, safe and save lives when someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest, but there were also questions on subjects such as the liability risk involved in having an AED on site and the various state requirements to be covered by Good Samaritan Laws. An AED is not an impulse item – it should not be purchased on a whim. Side-by-side with other vendors at the trade show, we were well aware AEDs are not a quick sell, but we also knew educating campground owners on their importance was the most crucial aspect for the AED Superstore being represented there.
This was not the first camping show in which we had participated. In November, we exhibited at the 2015 KOA Expo. A lot of the same questions were raised at both this recent conference and the KOA event. More than once owners said, “My insurance agent advised me against having an AED since it’s too big of a liability risk.” There were at least four insurance company booths at this conference, so why not probe a little deeper and get some detailed information on why insurance companies would advise against a campground having an AED?
Guy Gagnon at Leavitt Recreation & Hospitality Insurance was exceptionally accommodating. The question was simple, “What would you say if a campground owner came to you and told you they were considering purchasing an AED?” His response? “I’d say do it! They are pretty much fool-proof and it can’t hurt to have one around.” Well, this was encouraging, but he was only one of four. The next representative interviewed was Jacquiline Cloutier-Roy of Davis & Towle Insurance Group. Her advice was almost identical, “I would tell them it’s a great idea! You can’t accidentally hurt someone, and they are all made to walk you through a rescue, right?” The answer is, of course, yes they all use voice and visual prompts to guide the rescuer through an event. She was adamant there was no reason, from an insurance perspective, a campground should be concerned about such a purchase. Not surprisingly, the next two insurance companies, AdvenSure Outdoor Recreation Insurance Program, and Philadelphia Insurance Companies, both had the same reaction.
Since many campgrounds are located in remote areas, they face unique challenges when it comes to rendering major first aid of any kind. Response times for EMS to an emergency is typically 8-10 minutes under the best of circumstances. When your location is remote, the response time is longer. Add a maze of campsites they will need to navigate and the time stretches out a little more. If the local EMS is volunteer-based you could be looking at significantly longer response times. If there is one emergency situation where time is critical, it is when someone is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. For the best results, the first defibrillation shock should be administered within 3 to 5 minutes of a victim’s collapse. Even if CPR is begun, waiting for EMS to arrive with their defibrillators greatly diminishes an SCA victim’s chances of survival. Having an AED on site, and staff trained in CPR/AED use, can only enhance your campground’s safety program.
One campground said they are considering offering CPR classes for their regular campers as an activity once or twice this season. Another said they already have an AED and every year they make sure their returning employees are up-to-date on their CPR certification, and any new employees receive training. How great is that? When asked if they ever had to use the AED, the response was a hearty “Not yet (knock on wood)! But we feel better knowing we have it – kind of like a fire extinguisher.” A new owner related the story of how she purchased the property after the previous owner had passed away 3 years ago of cardiac arrest. She spent a great deal of time asking questions about the various models, features, and pricing. She was determined they would have one this season.
As mentioned earlier, an AED is not an impulse item – it is an investment. An investment in the safety of a campground’s visitors and staff. Insurance companies see no reason not to take this step to protect everyone on your property. Are there liability risks? Not from an insurance perspective. But let’s be honest – we live in a litigious society. If a lawyer sees an opportunity to find fault and win a settlement, they will file a lawsuit. The thing to keep in mind, however, is if you are following your state’s Good Samaritan Law requirements and maintaining your AED according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, you have nothing to worry about. Nobody has ever been successfully sued for using a properly maintained AED!! Good Samaritan Laws exist in all 50 states to protect owners and users of AEDs from lawsuits of this kind. Please don’t let someone die because you are afraid of being sued. No amount of regret can bring someone back.