A Heart Ready Award is a new distinction awarded by the American Heart Association to cities, counties and communities leading the way to save lives through Automated External Defibrillator (AED) programs.
The American Heart Association has developed strict statewide criteria to measure the effectiveness of these programs. Okaloosa County was the first of six counties in Florida to receive the Heart Ready designation.
Okaloosa County has established a comprehensive AED program carefully monitored by doctors that includes a record of where every AED is located, who is trained to use them and a maintenance plan for each device.
In a cooperative effort with Okaloosa County EMS and the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, there have been more than eighty (80) AEDs placed in deputies patrol cars, marine patrol units and courthouse security areas. These were funded by a state matching grant.
During cardiac arrest, these AEDs are used to send an electrical shock to the heart to restore it to a normal rhythm before paramedics can arrive on the scene to administer advanced care.