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Published on 31/10/2017

How it feels to survive a Sudden Cardiac Arrest: An incredible real-life story

The world’s biggest killer, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Sadly, most mariners will know of someone who’s had a SCA at sea, as SCA can affect anyone, anywhere and regardless of how fit they are. When a person collapses, is unresponsive, and is not breathing normally, he or she is most likely experiencing SCA. Whether the victim survives, depends largely upon the immediate intervention of bystanders.

In the event of a SCA, blood flow to the brain and other vital organs stops. An electric shock to the heart with an automated external defibrillator offers the best chance of survival, by restoring a normal heart rhythm. Survival rates drop by 10% with every minute that passes during a sudden cardiac arrest, meaning every second is vital. Particularly at sea, no emergency response unit will ever reach a vessel in that time, so it’s up to shipowners to have the right equipment on-board to save a life when necessary.

There are some fascinating real-life stories from SCA survivors, both offshore and on-shore. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation recently reported an unbelievable story of two friends, who in an incredible course of events, over the course of two years, both saved one another’s life following an SCA!

The two friends were playing sport together, when 30 minutes into the game, one of them fell to the floor, his knees buckled and he did not move his arms to brace his fall. His friend immediately knew that he had gone into cardiac arrest and he ran to get an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the sideline of the sports pitch. The AED was quickly setup to deliver a shock and within minutes the victims heart had started beating again. By the time the paramedics arrived on scene, the victim had regained consciousness and he has since made a full recovery. This incredible story doesn’t end there…

The same two friends were playing sport again together 10 years later, when the unbelievable happened, the friend that had previously saved the others life, had a SCA on the sports field. This time it was the cardiac arrest survivor’s turn to save the day. Sadly, on this occasion, no defibrillator was available at the facility, so it was necessary to resort to manual CPR methods until paramedics arrived. The victim was critically ill in hospital for some time and had to be put into an induced coma for 10 days, but thankfully he is now back to full health.

This experience led the pair to start a collection amongst their team members to purchase an AED to have on-hand at sports games, in case someone else went into sudden cardiac arrest like they both did. It’s a good job that the pair went to this effort, as the AED that they contributed to the facility has since been used to save a life.

In addition to encouraging teammates to raise money together to purchase an AED for the team, the pair are now working actively with other sports teams to encourage them to do the same. “It’s a small thing to do to save a life,” the pair said, “obviously, it feels great to be alive and it continues to feel that my friend and I are in a modern version of a fairy tale.”

Having worked with the National Health Service in the United Kingdom for several years, supplying award-winning automated external defibrillators (AEDs), Martek Marine is an approved NHS vendor on the NHS procurement frameworks for the whole of the UK, as well as recommended supplier to Ambulance Service AED programs. This knowledge was married with Martek’s experience bringing disruptive technology to market that’s proven to improve ship safety, performance and crew welfare to develop Lifeforce AED, the only marine approved automatic defibrillator to be Type Approved by Germanischer Lloyd (GL).

In the event of SCA offshore, there’s no time for a medevac, so having a defibrillator on board is a must. The risk of SCA is even greater for crew with pre-existing heart conditions. A huge milestone has been achieved through Lifeforce AED, not just for people with heart problems, but for all crew who can now travel safely with the knowledge that an approved medical apparatus is there to take care of them in the event of SCA. That help isn’t far away, should the worst happen.

Lifeforce AED is saving lives across the globe and for every life saved using the product, $1,000 is donated to a charity of the customer’s choice. Ready to find out more? Check out Lifeforce AED on our website today.