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It can be a depressing irony. Working out at the gym improves one’s health, but sometimes, people can collapse while there.

New York’s top court Thursday decided that health clubs in the state are required to possess defibrillators, but they don’t have to use them if a customer goes down. Robert Walker, executive director of the YMCA in Batavia, says emergency procedures won’t be changing despite the ruling.

“We are going to maintain the highest standards for safety with an AED," Walker said. "If we got it, we’re going to use it.”

Walker says at the Y – where a large percentage of customers are children and elderly people -- there’s always at least one person present during business hours who is certified with the AED.

The ruling is based on the 2007 death of a man who collapsed in cardiac arrest at a Long Island Bally’s gym. A defibrillator was brought to his side. A trainer detected breathing and a pulse, but didn’t use it. Paramedics arrived soon after, but the man still died.

The Court of Appeals says a negligence lawsuit is possible, but the gym’s burden of responsibility is limited.

Walker says AEDs’ maintenance, reliability and ease-of-use have improved since the state demanded their presence at gyms several years ago which makes it a “no brainer” to have people trained to assist always present.

(Pictured: the Y's AED is centrally located near the front desk)

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