West coast ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne – running services from Arran to the Isle of Lewis - and Argyll Ferries running the passenger service between Gpurock and Dunoon will soon be fitting their ferries with Automated External Defibrillation (AED) devices thanks to its new partnership with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Under the agreement, BHF Scotland will co-fund the provision of AEDs on CalMac ferries and the Scottish Ambulance Service will train CalMac crews in their use and will provide ongoing support.
In making the announcement, CalMac’s Interim Managing Director Gary Robertson, says: ‘We have been wrestling with a number of issues around the deployment of AEDs on ferries for many years and are delighted to have found a partnership solution that enables us to provide this valuable public access defibrillator service.
‘We are very grateful to BHF Scotland, which has helped us identify the type of AED device which is best suited for deployment on our ferries and to the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) for agreeing to train crew members to use AEDS initially and into the future. SAS also will act as clinical advisors.
‘It will take a little time to install AEDs on all our vessels and train the crews as necessary, but we would hope to have them available initially on the large ferries as soon as possible and the smaller vessels after that. In addition to being available for crew members to use, they will be sited in public areas of the ships so can be used by members of the public too. (Ed: presumably this mean ‘competent’ members of the public.)
‘We already link up with the ambulance service in emergency situations so this extension of that relationship makes real sense.’
Marjory Burns, Director of BHF Scotland, says: ‘Most cardiac arrests happen away from hospital and many of the resulting deaths could be avoided if the person is treated with a defibrillator within about four minutes of collapsing.
‘If your heart stops, every second really does count, and having a defibrillator on hand – with personnel trained to use it – gives the best possible chance of survival.
‘BHF Scotland is committed to helping save more lives in emergency situations. That’s why we welcome CalMac’s decision to make this life-saving equipment available on ferries across Scotland, and we are delighted to have been able to provide funding for this initiative.’
Pat O’Meara, General Manager, Community Resilience, Scottish Ambulance Service, says: ‘There is clear evidence that early intervention with first aid skills and the use of defibrillators before the ambulance crews are on scene can save lives and make a significant contribution to the quality of recovery for patients. This is an excellent initiative that will have a positive impact for ferry passengers.’
The AEDs will be installed on all 28 CalMac ships and Argyll Ferries’ two passenger ships.
This is a very worthwhile and socially responsible partnership initiative. for which all concerned are to be warmly congratulated.
An Automated External Defibrillator or AED is a life-saving machine that can give the heart a controlled electrical shock during a cardiac arrest. For every minute that passes without defibrillation chances of survival decrease by about 10 per cent. Research shows that giving a controlled shock within five minutes of collapse provides the best possible chance of survival.
A cardiac arrest is when your heart stops pumping blood around your body. You are unresponsive and won’t be breathing normally. Immediate CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and defibrillation is needed to have any chance of survival. If you’re untrained or worried about rescue breaths, hands-only CPR can increase a person’s chances of survival prior to a defibrillator and professional help arriving.