Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can happen suddenly and without warning.

It occurs when the heart stops beating normally due to chaotic, irregular passage of cardiac impulses. This prevents oxygenated blood from pumping around the body. Unless these impulses are corrected within minutes, the victim will die due to the lack of oxygen throughout their body.

The only proven method to treat SCA is rapid defibrillation. If a member of your crew was to go into cardiac arrest whilst out at sea, their chance of survival would be almost 0% unless you have an AED on-board.

So, let’s look into what AEDs are and what to consider when buying one for your vessel.

What is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?

An AED is a portable device that automatically checks the heart’s rhythm and, if needed, delivers a controlled electric shock to the chest. If successful, this will restore the heart’s natural rhythm and allow blood to pump normally once again.

AED’s are vital in cardiac arrest events and, if used within the first 3 minutes, the chance of survival increases from 7% to a staggering 74%.

What to consider before buying an AED?

 When choosing the best AED to suit your vessel, it’s vital that you consider the following:

Reliability

There is no use buying an AED which isn’t reliable enough to provide you with lifesaving treatment whenever it’s needed. Find out what kind of testing an AED has been through to prove its reliability.

Ingress protection rating (IP)

IP is how well an AED protects itself from dust and water ingress. The higher the IP, the better protected a device is. Every shipowner and operator will want a pretty high IP, particularly because AEDs tend to be used infrequently and can easily gather dust.

Ease of Use

Trying to deal with an SCA at sea is incredibly stressful, and it’s very easy to get flustered when rushing to save a life. An AED must be easy to use and intuitive to help rescuers deal with the situation as calmly as possible and deliver the treatment successfully.

Be sure to ask plenty of questions about the usability of any AED you consider, and check out video demonstrations where possible so you can see exactly how easy or difficult is it to use.

Warranty

Purchasing an AED can be a serious investment, so you’ll want peace of mind that your device is protected under a warranty in case anything goes wrong. Warranties for portable defibrillators tend to provide cover from anywhere between 2 and 8 years, and the longer the warranty, the more reliable the AED is likely to be.

Battery Life

The main battery on an AED is what provides that all-important, heart starting shock to save a life. Look out for the number of years and shocks that a battery will provide so that you can be prepared for the frequency of battery replacements.

Note also that with each shock a battery provides, its life timescale will reduce. Even if an AED is never used to deliver shocks, its battery power will still diminish over time and a replacement will still be needed.

Maintenance and servicing costs

For some ship owners and operators, annual service checks are compulsory in accordance with their own internal policies. If this is the case, be sure to purchase your AED from a company that can provide this service.

The cost of spares

There’s more than just the initial cost of an AED to think about, so be sure to consider the running costs involved, too. There are three key aspects to consider:

  1. Pads need to be replaced after every use of the defibrillator, and otherwise every two years.
  2. The main battery pack needs replacing every 5 or 7 years depending on the type you choose when purchasing your AED.
  3. The additional battery that powers self-test functions and alerts tend to need replacing every 18 months to 2 years.

It’s important to be vigilant about your AED maintenance because failure to replace parts when necessary could make the device unfit to save a life.

The benefits of Lifeforce Marine AED

Martek Marine is the exclusive UK distributor of Defibtech products, which is one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of AEDs.

The Lifeforce AED is specifically designed for the marine environment and was the world’s first defibrillator to be Type Approved by Germanischer Lloyd (GL).

The benefits of Lifeforce include…

  • High Reliability – The Lifeforce AED has an IP rating of 54 to 55, which makes it suitable for use in harsh environments. It has been extensively tested to military standards and drop tested to ensure that it’ll work whenever you need it.
  • Ease of use – An independent usability study has proven Lifeforce Marine AED to be the easiest to use on the market. The device guides the user safely and confidently through the rescue process and, by automatically detecting if and when a shock is required, there is no chance of human error.
  • Future proof – The Lifeforce Marine AED comes with an 8-year warranty, which is one of the longest available.
  • Great battery life – The Lifeforce Marine AED comes with either 5-year (125 shocks) or 7-year (300 shocks) batteries. The latter means that you don’t have to worry about replacement quite as often, but it does make the initial purchase price of the device a little more expensive.
  • Hassle-free maintenance – The Lifeforce Marine AED feature self-test functions to check for faults and battery levels, and sound alerts if problems are found. This gives you peace of mind that your device is always ready to save lives, with no need for manual servicing.
  • Lightweight and compact – If a member of your crew went into SCA anywhere on your vessel, you need to be confident that a defibrillator can be used on them within 3 minutes. At only 1.9kg, the Lifeforce Marine AED can be easily transported from one side of the vessel to another.

 

What extras/spares do I need for my AED?

 AEDs need a few added parts in order to deliver rapid, effective treatment. Some are essentials and some are optional extras – let’s take a look at what you should be buying alongside your AED.

Pads

Defibrillator pads, also commonly known as electrode pads, connect to the AED via cables and adhere to the chest of the patient. This is what completes the circuit to allow the shock of electricity to be delivered.

Pads are only single-use and should be replaced after each use. For this reason, it’s always useful to have at least one spare set to hand so that your AED will be prepared for another use right away. In fact, it’s handy to have a few spare pads in your first aid inventory just in case a set becomes compromised, perhaps as a result of being applied incorrectly to the patient.

Storage

AEDs are expensive pieces of kit, and although the Lifeforce Marine AED is incredibly hardy, it’s a good idea to protect them even further.

Wall-mounted storage solutions are handy for scenarios where you want the AED to be identified quickly and easily. These can be as simple as wall-mounted brackets, or for extra protection, you can opt for wall mounted cabinets.

Signage

Many AED machines are manufactured in bright, eye-catching colours so that they can quickly be spotted in emergencies.

However, to help people to locate defibrillators, you may want to add extra signage around your vessel to direct users to the nearest one.

Remember that in emergency situations, people can quickly panic and don’t always think as clearly as they might under normal circumstances. The easier it is for people to navigate to your AED, the more likely it is that the victim of cardiac arrest will survive.

Want to know more?

Choosing the right AED for your vessel can seem like a difficult and stressful task, especially given how important they are in treating SCA. For more information on what to consider when purchasing a defibrillator, download our free AED buyers guide here.

Alternatively, you can contact a member of our team who will be happy to help.