|A Matter of Life & Death|
Part 2: The portable automated external defibrillator (AED), gives a victim of SCA a strong leg up on survival.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler — July 2002
The incident I experienced happened more than 20 years ago, and there was little if anything I or anyone onboard could have done then to save that man's life. However, today's modern technology, in the form of the portable automated external defibrillator (AED), gives a victim of SCA a strong leg up on survival.
"AEDs are very appropriate to the maritime environment, as they are compact, safe, and simple to use," says Dr. Ray Jarris, one of the principals of Global Medical Systems (GMS), a physician-owned company, whose Marine Health Services (MHS) division provides high-quality medical support to mariners.
Jarris's company provides 24/7 medical assistance regardless of your location anywhere in the world. Contact via satphone, fax, e-mail, marine and high seas operators, or land or cell phone will link you to a trained communications staff and then to the physician on call for the appropriate intervention. "For the true emergency, like an SCA event, voice capability is preferable," he says.
The particular AED Jarris speaks of is the Heartstream FR2, a state-of-the-art unit manufactured by Agilent Technologies, a division of Philips Medical Systems. The unit weighs about four and a half pounds and is the size of a hardcover book. Once you press the "on" button, the unit's fully automated voice chip leads you through the defibrillation process until the victim's heartbeat resumes a normal rhythm. While the device has a very short learning curve--Jarris reports that one was given to a sixth-grade class and that the students, within several minutes, successfully "resuscitated" their test mannequin--he strongly suggests taking a basic Red Cross or American Heart Association certification course. "In that way you can become familiar and comfortable with both the equipment and the process," he says. "In addition, semiannual refresher courses make maintaining the certificate easy."
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.