Local business owners take 'proactive' approach, purchase life-saving AEDs

Matt Algarin
Medical Division Chief Phil Metz, from the Destin Fire Control District, presents Destin Bay House General Manager Erin Shoults with an AED, after she recently purchased the device to place at her business.

The Destin Bay House and Destin Bike Tours are two of the latest businesses in town to purchase lifesaving AEDs through the Destin Fire Control District.

"As a business owner in Destin, we feel it's important to be proactive," Bay House General Manager Erin Shoults told The Log.

After attending a CPR class at the fire district and learning about the benefits of the automated external defibrillators, Shoults and Kylie Ochsenreiter, of Destin Bike Tours, knew they had to have an AED.

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the Red Cross website.

"An AED is one of the only ways to save many victims of cardiac arrest," said Phil Metz, medical division chief for the Destin Fire Control District. "When in cardiac arrest, especially ventricle fibrillation, time is critical."

"The sooner electrical shock is administered, the greater the chance of survival," he added.

Since 2007, the Destin Fire Control District has received four matching grants through the state of Florida to purchase AEDs. These grants cover 75 percent of the cost, which is about $1,400 per device. The rest of the cost is offset by the businesses that purchase the AED.

The district received 50 AEDs in 2007, 25 in 2010, 12 in 2012 and 10 this year. All told, there are approximately 125 devices in Destin, fire officials say.

"This has to be one of the largest concentrations of AEDs in a municipality in the country," Metz said, adding that the use of AEDs in Destin have directly saved at least six people's lives over the past few years.

As for Shoults and Ochsenreiter, purchasing these devices for their businesses was a no-brainer.

"We wanted to be good members of the community," Shoults said. "It makes people feel better about our businesses."