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February 2019

Think Golf Course Safety to Reduce Your Liability

By Robert Koshinskie

Ensuring adequate safety and reducing your exposure to potential liabilities can be a challenge even if you feel your facility is compliant with prevailing rules and regulations. You need to be aware of changes that could increase your exposure to lawsuits, including being properly prepared to respond to medical emergencies.

Premises Liability
“Premises liability” is a legal exposure arising out of an injury on your property such as inadequate security, slip and fall accidents, and not being properly equipped to respond to other medical emergencies.

The general legal requirement is that you must make a reasonable effort to keep a safe environment for anyone on your property — staff, members and visitors — and “reasonable effort” can change over time.

Staats v. Vintner’s Golf Club LLC
The story of Staats vs. Vontner’s Golf Club is an example of how interpretation of reasonable effort can seriously impact your business.

According to court documents, “Plaintiff Carolyn Staats nearly died after being attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets while playing golf on a Yountville course operated by Vintner’s Golf Club LLC (Club). She sued the Club for general negligence and premises liability, but the trial court granted summary judgment against her on the basis that the Club owed no duty to protect its patrons from yellow jackets that came from an undiscovered nest on the course.”

The California Court of Appeals reversed the decision noting that, “We hold that the duty of golf course operators to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition includes a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect patrons from nests of yellow jackets on the premises.”

This case raises questions about what reasonable effort during medical emergencies could mean to your liability.

A Shift of Emergency Response to the Public
Another example of how reasonable effort has shifted is the history of automated defibrillators (AED), which help revive victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

Before AEDs, only trained emergency personnel were permitted to use a defibrillator. Now AEDs are designed and approved for use by the layperson and many states have enacted laws or regulations that require AEDs in many public areas like airports and health clubs.

Portable oxygen is another life-saving tool not yet mandated for public places like AEDs, but new developments in technology may lead to new regulations.
 
Portable Emergency Oxygen: The Next Shift in Emergency Response
The American Red Cross recommends administering oxygen in cases that can occur at your golf course:

 A PERSON WHO IS NOT BREATHING;

 AN ADULT BREATHING FEWER THAN 12 OR MORE THAN 20 BREATHS PER MINUTE;

 A CHILD BREATHING FEWER THAN 15 OR MORE THAN 30 BREATHS PER MINUTE;

 AN INFANT BREATHING FEWER THAN 25 OR MORE THAN 50 BREATHS PER MINUTE.

Portable emergency oxygen is commonly delivered by pressurized cylinders found on ambulances. Emergency medical technicians receive special training to use these pressurized oxygen cylinders, which can present significant danger to life and property.

In one failure, an oxygen cylinder flashed and set an emergency medical technician on fire during a routine equipment inspection on her ambulance. Her associates were able to save the victim while the ambulance where the fire started went up in flames.

Pressurized oxygen cylinders are not permitted for layperson use, but safe portable emergency oxygen is now available to the layperson rescuer, just like an AED.

Safe, Low-Cost Portable Emergency Oxygen is Now Available
U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) states that “oxygen equipment intended for emergency use may be marketed for over-the-counter distribution, provided such devices deliver a minimum flow rate of 6 liters of oxygen per minute, maintained for a minimum of 15 minutes.”

Fortunately, there is an emergency oxygen device on the market that meets FDA guidance and safely creates oxygen from solid chemicals.

Placed in a public location the device can be carried to the victim of a medical emergency. The device does not require maintenance over a two-year period and can be used by untrained laypersons in three simple steps by following visual instructions prominently displayed on the device case.

Step-up Your Medical Response Protocols
You can easily integrate emergency oxygen into your existing medical response protocols. Victims of a medical event will receive the additional life-saving benefits of oxygen until paramedics arrive. Your staff, members and guests will appreciate the extra level of medical response preparedness that your golf course offers.

Be proactive by including a portable emergency oxygen device to your emergency medical response protocols today.

Written on behalf of Rapid Oxygen by Robert Koshinskie, principal of Ringbolt Consulting, who is an expert on medical device products including new product development, business analysis and strategy. To learn more, go to rapidoxygen.com.

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