AEDs Installed at Cutting Edge Hair Salon & Old Man Franks by Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation
by James Coulter
Two automated external defibrillators (AEDs), funded by a local non-profit organization, were donated to two Winter Haven businesses and installed in their facilities.
On Saturday, Melanie’s Cutting Edge Hair Salon and Old Man Franks each received an AED donated to them by the Cardiac Culpepper Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to assisting local first responders.
Each defibrillator was donated with their cabinets, which contain an alarm that signals the local fire rescue if opened. They were installed at their respective facilities with the assistance of Eric Shimkus, an engineer, firefighter, and paramedic from the Winter Haven Fire Department.
Shimkus was one of the first responders who responded to a call by Melanie Culpepper Brown after her late fiancée, Michael Culpepper, suffered from a cardiac arrest. Despite their best attempts to revive him and transport him to the hospital, Michael did not survive.
His passing inspired Melanie to create the Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation in his honor. Her organization has been raising funds to install AEDs throughout the city and assist local EMTs and other first responders.
Shimkus has been assisting her with her endeavors since then. He offered his services on Saturday installing the AEDs cabinets at the two local businesses. He appreciates the foundation’s efforts to buy and install defibrillators and raise awareness of the hard work of people like him.
“I think it is a great thing for the city of Winter Haven,” he said. “I know through the city, they do get grants and place AEDs in separate businesses, but with Melanie doing it as well, it will be a bonus to the city of Winter Haven.”
Debbie Dekle, Assistant Manager for Old Man Franks, was present when the AED was installed at their lakeside eatery. Michael previously worked there as one of the very first security officers.
Dekle has worked at Old Man Franks for 20 years, and as a bartender for 15 years. She knew Michael personally, and was proud that an AED was installed next to a signed portrait of him in his memory.
“He was a teddy bear, [and] I miss him,” she said. “It is wonderful that Melanie has all these fundraisers to raise money for defibrillators, because every business needs to have one. I think her foundation is wonderful.”
Darren Ramsey served as a volunteer at Old Man Franks for the past seven years. He knew Michael, and considered him to almost be like a brother. Since his passing, he has assisted Melanie in her endeavors with her new foundation.
“I have helped her ever since she started it, and whatever event she has, I help her with that,” he said. “[AEDs are] a good thing that needs to be everywhere, not many companies have the defibrillators and all of that needs to be around in case people have a cardiac arrest.”
Melanie has hosted various fundraisers throughout the year to help raise money for these AEDs. Her next event will be “Racks for a Heart,” a pool tournament to be hosted at Slates on Sep. 18. Registration starts at 11 am, and the games begin at noon. $20 for buy-in, $10 to CCF plus $10 for each team.
Her foundation has also started Bricks-R-Us, which will allow people to purchase memorialized bricks to honor loved ones and which will be installed at various monuments at Winter Haven businesses, including Old Man Franks, Tanners Lakeside, and Caribbean Bay.
Finally, a mobile app is currently being created that will allow people to locate various AEDs within the Winter Haven area in case of an emergency.
“These are the first two that have been installed, and I plan on putting one on every block,” she said. “It will take me a while, but I will do it.”