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Saving Your Crew’s Lives at Sea

Posted on 23rd June 2021

In light of recent events at the 2020 Euros, ambulance services are encouraging everyone to learn CPR in case the unthinkable should happen.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can strike anyone, regardless of age, at any time, even the fittest and healthiest of us. SCA effects 100,000 people in the UK alone per year and needs immediate action should someone begin to suffer from it.

The treatment of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) depends on a chain of survival:

  1. Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system
  2. Early CPR with an emphasis on chest compression
  3. Rapid defibrillation
  4. Effective advanced life support
  5. Integrated postcardiac arrest care

CPR allows the blood flow to continue before the shock can be delivered. If somebody goes into cardiac arrest, the chances of survival is less than 10%, but if the defi is used on the patient within three minutes, the chances increase to 70%.

Working at sea can be especially taxing with irregular hours, quick turnaround from port to port as well as handling heavy machinery, working in enclosed spaces, with hazardous gases and chemicals.

Having an AED at sea is essential for saving lives

The benefits include being battery powered, so if there is an electricity outage, it will still remain operational. It is recommended that at least 2 AEDs should be aboard your vessel. Thinking about the size of vessels, could you run in under three minutes, the optimal time a shock needs to be delivered for the highest chance of survival, to the nearest AED and back again? Is two going to be enough?

Not only is this a huge risk in terms of survival time, where every minute counts, the further out to sea you are, the less able emergency service can reach you, if at all. Without a defibrillator, this puts your chances of survival at 0%.

You have a duty to protect your crew, including access to medical care. Don’t wait until the worst has already happened, ensure you can prevent it. More and more passenger ships are taking the initiative to protect their customers, can you say the same for your workforce?

Misconceptions about AEDs at sea

Here are some of the misconceptions which we regularly hear about why people choose not to stock AED’s onboard vessels:

  • AEDs won’t work onboard vessels due to the motion – This is not true with the Lifeforce AED as our AED is military tested for the marine environment.
  • AED’s are too expensive – They’re relatively affordable compared to the other costs associated with running a boat, plus it takes the worry out of the health and safety procedures you have.
  • You need training to use an AED – Training is recommended so people feel comfortable with the device but it isn’t essential.
  • When should you use an AED and what if it’s used when it shouldn’t be? – In the case of somebody collapsing and you cannot find a pulse you should immediately initiate defibrillation, for added peace of mind the AED will automatically analyse the patient’s vital signs and it will ONLY deliver a shock if required.

Could you save a member of your team on-board your vessel? You are responsible for protecting the lives of your crew at sea, and you know that a happy and secure crew is a productive one!

In 2017, a couple onboard a vessel off the coast of Brazil found themselves in this very, nightmare situation. 35 nautical miles from shore, in the face of an emergency due to SCA. According to the article in the Ocean Voyager, if it wasn’t for the onboard AED, the patient would not have survived.

What considerations should you take when buying an AED?

The most important factors to consider when purchasing an AED are:

  • Reliability – ensure you know what kind of testing your AED has been through to ensure it has high reliability.
  • Ease of use – AEDs should be easy for all your crew to use and help the user manage the situation calmly. When purchasing an AED, be sure to ask about what questions and check out videos to show you exactly what needs to be done.
  • Warranty – Warranties for AEDs can range from 2-8 years, the longer the warranty, the more reliable your AED is likely to be.
  • Ingress protection rating – Ingress protection is how well protected your AED is from things such as water or dust. The higher the ingress protection, again, the more reliable your AED will likely be. This is important as AEDs are used infrequently and could gather dust easily.
  • Battery Life – Look out for how long the battery life is on an AED and how many shocks it can deliver up to. It is important to note that the amount of shocks delivered will deplete the battery life so a replacement may be needed in a time scale less than the AED indicates, depending on how frequently it is used.
  • 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.
  • Cost of spares – There are additional costs when it comes to the maintenance of your AED, such as spares. This is the replacement of batteries and shock pads. The pads of your AED should be replaced after every use, or if it is not used, they should be replaced every two years. The battery will also need replacing depending on the shelf life and the amount of usage the AED has gone through.

It is very important to stay on top of the spares needed for your AED as you want your equipment to be fully functional if it is needed in an emergency. Staying up to date could be the difference between life and death.

Want to know more about AEDs?

Download our free AED buyers guide for more information on what to consider when purchasing a defibrillator.

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