Olympia– On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed a measure requiring fitness centers to acquire and maintain at least one semiautomatic external defibrillator (AEDs).

Senate Bill 5592, sponsored by Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), says the bill was brought forward by a constituent.

“A family turned their loss into action in hopes of saving others’ lives,” Hunt said.  “By requiring AEDs in all fitness centers, we take a necessary step towards protecting and providing immediate care for those that suffer from any form of heart disease or trauma.”

Last October, Brian Reiter died of a sudden heart attack at 49 years old while working out at a local gym. Brian, an active community member, was captain of Thurston County Search and Rescue and a strong advocate for AEDs. His family, who testified in committee, hopes the law saves lives. “This law won’t bring my husband back,” said Kim, Brian’s wife. “But it can keep another family from suffering as we have.”

The American Heart Association reports that cardiac arrest remains a prominent public health crisis in a 2022 report Heart and Stroke Statistics. With over 356,000 Americans having suffered a heart attack or stroke out-of-hospital, 90% resulted in fatality.

“By societal standards, someone could appear or be very healthy,” Hunt said. “In fact, many people at a fitness center or health club may take pride in their wellbeing, but they may still suffer from a heart disease. With this bill, we are equipping our fitness centers to be a place of wellbeing in a very tangible sense. All our communities are much more fortunate with this requirement, and we owe gratitude to the Reiter family for bringing this proposal forward.”

If signed into law, Washington would join 14 states, including Oregon and California, in requiring fitness centers and health clubs to carry defibrillators.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.