What Every Box Owner Should Know About AED Laws


Some of the least talked about laws in the fitness community are those that require health and fitness studios to maintain automated external defibrillators at their facilities. Though we’ve all seen AEDs hanging on the walls of elementary schools, in public buildings and at athletic facilities, few are aware that in many states fitness facilities are required to not only maintain AEDs on the premises, but train their employees on how to properly use AED units in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

First, a few words on SCAs. According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, SCA is a leading cause of death among U.S. adults over the age of 40. Approximately 326,200 people in the U.S. experience an out of hospital, non-traumatic SCA each year, with nine out of 10 of those incidents resulting in death. This statistic is staggering, considering the fact that the number of people who die each year from SCA is roughly equivalent to the number who die from Alzheimers disease, assault with firearms, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, HIV, house fires, motor vehicle accidents, prostate cancer and suicides combined.

Although SCA victims can survive if they receive immediate AED treatment — ideally within three to five minutes after collapse — even the best emergency medical service teams are not always able to reach a victim this quickly.

This small window of opportunity to effectively treat SCA, coupled with its high occurrence rate, has caused many states to adopt laws that require certain types of businesses — including “health studios” — to maintain AED units at their facilities.

Let’s take California, for example. The state has adopted a robust AED law that specifically applies to any “health studio” that permits the use of or access to its facilities and equipment for physical exercise, body building, figure development, fitness training or any other similar purpose, on a membership basis. By definition, this includes CrossFit Boxes. In addition to setting out specific requirements for providing and maintaining access to AED equipment, the law requires, among other things, that studio owners train their employees on how to properly administer AED treatment.

Here are just a few of the requirements under the California law:

  1. The studio must comply with all local and federal regulations governing the maintenance and placement of AED units at the facility.
  1. The studio must ensure that the AED is maintained and regularly tested according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross and, according to all applicable FDA, state or federal rules.
  1. The AED must be checked for readiness after each use and at least once every 30 days if the AED has not been used in the preceding 30 days. The studio must maintain records of these checks.
  1. If emergency care is rendered using an AED, the emergency medical services system must be activated as soon as possible, and use of the AED must be reported to the licensed treating physician and to the local EMS agency.
  1. For every AED unit acquired – up to five units – no less than one employee per AED unit must complete a training course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED use that complies with the regulations adopted by the Emergency Medical Services Authority and the standards of the AHA and ARC.
  1. Employers shall have trained employees who should be available to respond to an emergency that may involve the use of an AED unit during staffed operating hours.
  1. The studio must have a written plan that describes the procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency involving the use of an AED, which must include immediate notification of 911 and trained office personnel at the start of AED procedures.
  1. One important aspect of the law is that it does not require the studio or the employee to actually use the AED. An employee who renders emergency care or treatment is not liable for civil damages resulting from the use or attempted use of an AED unless the person engaged in gross negligence or willful misconduct while rendering the service. In other words, the law is designed to encourage “good Samaritans” to take reasonable action without fear of punishment, but does not require anyone to actually render AED treatment.

These are just a few of the requirements under the California law — there are several others — and 13 other states have adopted their own version of health and fitness studio AED laws that include their own set of requirements.

For Box owners, the key takeaway here is to become familiar with the laws of your home state, and incorporate those requirements into your mandatory business and training practices. You’ll not only be in compliance with the law: More importantly, you might just save a life.

NOTE: None of the information in this article is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only, does NOT constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel from an attorney.


By Drew Amoroso and Juliet Starrett. Drew is an attorney in San Francisco where he provides legal counsel to emerging and established fitness and health and wellness brands. He can be reached at fitlawdrew@gmail.com. Juliet is the co-founder and CEO of San Francisco Crossfit and MobilityWOD.com, an attorney, two-time extreme whitewater world champion, cancer survivor, winner of the Jefferson Award for public service, and proud wife and mom.