|A Matter of Life & Death|
Part 3: The key to saving the life of an SCA victim is to reach him quickly with the right life-saving tools.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler — July 2002
But when should an AED be used? "The only time an AED should be used is when there is an absence of a pulse and the person is not breathing," says Jarris. "And it's crucial that it be applied quickly. For every minute saved in the first ten minutes of an SCA incident, there is a ten-percent better chance of survival," he adds. Jarris goes on to describe the SCA chain of survival procedure which includes making the call for emergency help and advice, immediately beginning CPR, early defibrillation, and starting advanced life support, such as intravenous medication where possible.
I also spoke with Ken Dane, general manager of Global, about the costs for MHS's service. "Our fees are annual retainers, and for professionally crewed yachts costs range between $1,000 and $3,000," he says. For owner-crewed vessels of up to five people, the charge is $425 regardless of the boat's size. "We really try to be flexible and have done six-month contracts as well as short-term ocean crossing deals," Dane explains. The Heartstream FR2 AED device, equipped with all the bells and whistles, including hard carrying case and long-life battery, will cost just over $4,000 and must be purchased with a doctor's prescription.
Once coverage begins, Dane also suggests taking down a medical history of all those onboard, listing allergies to medication, current prescriptions, any major medical problems like diabetes and heart disease history, for example, and the primary family physician information. "We're not for emergency use only and encourage our clients to contact us in the course of an illness or soon after an injury or incident occurs, as early intervention is the key to avoiding complications," Dane says. "Our staff is highly trained, and we know how to talk to Mom and Pop as well as a paramedic." Jarris adds, "We can make the determinations for the best options based on your location, including having an ambulance meet you at the dock if required." Any additional medical costs, like an ambulance, are the client's responsibility.
GMS also provides training programs including the three-day U.S. Coast Guard-approved Save A Life At Sea (SALTS) course, CPR, and blood-borne pathogens training as well as works with pharmaceutical companies to create medical chests reflecting the size and individual needs of a particular vessel. In addition, the company, in a joint venture with Maritime Medical Emergencies, has produced a set of 11 training videos, including one on cardiac resuscitation.
According to the American Heart Association, the key to saving the life of an SCA victim is to reach him quickly with the right life-saving tools. Having an AED onboard as well as being linked to a service like the one GMS provides can, in the event of something terrible happening while away from the dock, combine to be a powerful force in saving a life.
Global Medical Systems Phone: (206) 781-8770. Fax: (206) 781-8771. www.globalmd.net.
Philips Medical Systems Phone: East coast: (800) 934-7372. West coast: (800) 263-3342. www3.medical.philips.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.