Olympia — A bill requiring fitness centers to carry at least one semiautomatic external defibrillator (AED) was signed into law Tuesday.  

Senate Bill 5592, sponsored by Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), was brought forward by constituents, Kim and Karli Reiter. Rep. Jessica Bateman (D-Olympia) sponsored the House version of the bill. 

Kim Reiter’s husband, Brian, passed away at age 49 from a cardiac arrest while working out at his local gym. Brian, an active community member, was captain of Thurston County Search and Rescue and a strong advocate for AEDs. According to his wife, Brian initiated the installation of an AED device where he worked and kept his AED training up to date.    

His family, who testified in committee, said they hope the legislation saves lives.   

“I know that this law will not bring back my husband,” said Kim Reiter. “But it will keep another family from suffering as we have.”  

Expected users, such as staff on site, would need to be trained to use the device. Lacey Fire District Chief Steve Brooks said he feels confident the devices could easily be used either by staff or others who aren’t trained, if needed.  

“It is well documented that if someone has never actually picked up an AED, if they just access it, in every model that’s approved for use in our country, there are clear instructions, both visual and audible instructions,” Brooks said. “Once the device is activated, it will actually literally walk the provider through, not only the application of the AED but the associated CPR activities which are critical for its effectiveness as well. We routinely train seventh graders on the use of these devices.” 

Time is critical during a cardiac event. A person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest drops by 7% to 10% every minute a normal heartbeat isn’t restored. Immediate CPR and AED use can double or triple the person’s chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association.   

“A family turned their loss into action in hopes of saving others’ lives,” Hunt said. “This is for Brian and other people, so that we have safe workouts, and if someone does have a cardiac arrest at a health club, we’ll have access to an AED.” 

Fitness centers will have until June 6 to acquire an AED.